The Most Common, Yet Challenging Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

John Krautzel
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You can't predict the exact questions employers will ask during a job interview, but you can take steps to prepare yourself. Here are 14 common, challenging interview questions with answers to help you formulate your own responses.

1. What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

When answering this interview question, it's tempting to say you work too hard. An experienced hiring manager is going to want a better answer. Be honest, but offer a strength to compensate.

2. What Are Your Future Plans?

When seeking employment, it's best to tell the person interviewing you that you want to expand your skill sets and grow within the company.

3. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

This is one of those interview questions that can make or break you. Learn about the company and its culture, and formulate a specific response that pertains directly to the organization.

4. What Salary Do You Expect?

To prepare for this interview question, do some research to find what the job typically pays for someone with your experience, then come up with a slightly higher figure. The person conducting the interview just wants to make sure your expectations are reasonable.

5. What Is Your Greatest Strength?

This is one of the most critical interview questions, and it gives you the opportunity to brag a bit. Talk about your skills, experiences and accomplishments, and don't hold back.

6. Why Did You Leave Your Previous Position?

If you're currently unemployed and looking for work, the hiring manager may ask why you left your previous employer. Don't disparage your last company. Say that you're seeking employment that offers new opportunities and challenges.

7. How Did You Learn About This Job Opening?

This is your chance to namedrop, if possible. Don't hesitate to let the hiring manager know if you're friends with some of the heavy-hitters in your industry.

8. How Do You Handle Stress?

This is one of the interview questions that can reveal a lot about you. Be sure to give a positive answer, such as meditation or reading, rather than shouting into a pillow.

9. What Do You Know About Our Company?

Spend some time reading the company's website before the job interview, and absorb everything from their CEO's name to the general corporate culture.

10. How Would Past Co-workers Describe You?

Be specific. Don't just say that you're a team player. Provide concrete examples that highlight how you contributed to the organization.

11. Can You Explain Your Employment Gaps?

Be honest when answering this question. If applicable, discuss the volunteer assignments you completed, and then explain that you were waiting for an ideal opportunity.

12. What Do You Do in Your Spare Time?

Keep it wholesome. Talk about hobbies that enrich you as a person.

13. What Is Your Greatest Achievement?

Don't hold back when answering this question. Talk about one specific moment in your professional career, and sell it hard.

14. What Was Your Greatest Professional Challenge?

Make sure this story has a happy ending. Talk about the obstacles you faced in your career, but focus more on how you overcame them.

Spend some time practicing your answers, but don't memorize them. Anyone can spout off canned responses to interview questions. Be unique, and let your true personality show.

Photo courtesy of Iefan Admad of


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for your comments @Oksana Horak-Duwirak. Some of these questions may be outdated for some places but they are pretty standard questions asked during most interviews. Maybe not all of them will be asked but you can be sure that some of them will be. So very true about salary and benefits, though. Unless the interviewer brings it up. Then you can respond as you did with the fact that you have a good idea what the salary range might be and then ask them for the range. They won't always give it to you. Some of them will hem and haw around the subject - even if they brought it up. So yours is a great response. Thank you.!

  • Oksana H.
    Oksana H.

    So I would "expect" a nice high pay grade. The job may only be offering a medium pay grade. Don't put your foot in your mouth. Tell the interviewer that you have an idea of what you are seeking as pay and would prefer they share first, what the offer is.

  • Oksana H.
    Oksana H.

    Salary. Having numerous interviews, this is another question that could end up with no job. Never, ever bring up pay, benefits, vacation, health questions at a first interview. I have had the interviewee as me what I was looking for. I am at a higher level, so I w

  • Oksana H.
    Oksana H.

    These are outdated questions, truly. Some, are actually much more difficult to answer than realized when first starting out on interviews. Such as, your greatest weakness. Inexperienced interviewers could actually bumble this question so badly if not understood that saying very negative things about oneself can hurt. To me, this is like a passive-aggressive question.

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