6 Tough Job Interview Questions to Expect

Few things are more nerve-wracking than a job interview. You want to make a good impression and convey your enthusiasm for the job—but you must do so in the face of questions that can be tough to answer. Here are six tough job interview questions and how to prepare for them, so you can focus on communicating your strengths during your interview.

  1. What do others most often criticize about you? This is a variation on the “What are your weaknesses?” question that asks for your weaknesses from others’ perspectives, not your own. Since we don’t always hear others criticize us (or their criticisms are biased), if you have trouble answering the question, consider preparing an answer that focuses on a weakness you know you have and are working to correct.
  2. What was it like working for your last boss? Poor worker-supervisor fit might be one of the top reasons people leave their jobs, but never use this or any other question as an excuse to criticize your previous boss or company. Instead, say “It was challenging,” followed by a neutral description of the difficulties you faced. Or lead with a positive: “My last boss was very knowledgeable about the industry and set goals that helped us understand the context of the work we did.”
  3. Why were you let go from your last job? Questions like these look for the reasons behind your last firing. They also look for information on how you handle setbacks in your life. Prepare for such questions by finding ways to frame your previous job and its ending in constructive terms that emphasize what you learned and how you are prepared to move forward.
  4. Are you overqualified for this job? See also “What salary do you expect?” and “What do you expect from a supervisor?” These questions look for more information on how you work “on the job” and how you would fit into this company’s work environment. Practice honesty, but with tact. For instance, you might reply, “In some ways, yes. However, I look forward to building my skills in [an area in which you are weaker but that is directly related to the job], and I really want to work for this company because….”
  5. If you could relive the last ten years of your life, what would you do? This question, along with questions like “What motivates you?” and “How do you handle stress?” seeks to learn more about your personality. Prepare for these questions by thinking about which of your personality strengths best qualify you for success in this job role, and talk about them.
  6. Why should we hire you? This question is an interview classic for a reason: It asks you to think quickly, it gauges how straightforward you’re likely to be and it is the top question on every interviewer’s mind. Don’t be afraid to answer it directly, with a focus on how your skills and abilities benefit this company specifically.

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