Difficult Interview Questions

In an interview, there’s nothing worse than being asked something you weren’t expecting.

It’s hard to know exactly what an interviewer will ask you because everyone is different. Some prefer to challenge you with questions that are more conceptual whilst others will focus more on your specific experiences in previous work.

Either way, preparing yourself for more problematic interview situations could help bring you closer to securing your ideal job.

To address this problem, we’ve put together our own pack of difficult interview questions. Simply click on the category of questions that relates to your concern where you’ll find a host of questions that we’ve seen over our 25+ years of recruitment experience.

The majority of the situational questions within this pack can be answered intelligently and insightfully using our STAR model:

Situation – describe a situation or problem that you have encountered.
Task – describe the task that the situation or your ideas for resolving the problem.
Action – describe the action you took and the obstacles you had to overcome.
Results – highlight the outcomes achieved, reinforcing the positive influence you have had on a situation.

The key here, regardless of what structure you take with your answers, is that you’re calm, considered but most importantly, honest. You might not think it, but you’re allowed to take a moment to answer a question, especially if you give an answer of particular substance – don’t build the interview up to be some kind of time-trial, Russian roulette!

Difficult Interview Questions

Pro-Tech interview questions pack

Influencing or Persuading Others

  • Tell me about a time when you were able to change someone’s viewpoint significantly.
  • Tell me about a time when you were asked to do something that you disagreed with.

Interpersonal and Team Skills

  • What experience have you had of working in a team?
  • What skills and personal qualities have you contributed to the teams you have been part of?
  • Tell me about a time when you used tact and diplomacy.
  • Tell me about the last time you had a disagreement with someone.
  • Tell me about the most difficult person you have worked with.
  • What kinds of people do you enjoy working with?
  • What kinds of people frustrate you?
  • What qualities do you admire most in others?

Communication Skills

  • Tell me about a time when you were successful in getting crucial information from another person.
  • Tell me about a time when someone misunderstands what you were attempting to communicate to them.

Personal Adaptability, Energy and Resilience

  • Tell me about a time when your work or an idea was criticised.
  • Tell me about a time when you felt under pressure.
  • Tell me about a time when you felt frustrated by your work.

Self-management, Self-motivation and Self-knowledge

  • Tell me about a time when you acted over and above the expectations of your role.
  • What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?
  • What are your three major accomplishments?
  • What does “success” mean to you?
  • What does “failure” mean to you?
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • What are your interests outside work?
  • Tell me about a major problem you have encountered and how you dealt with it?

Problem Solving and Decision Making

  • Tell me about a difficult decision that you have made.
  • Tell me about an unpopular decision you have made.
  • What significant problems have you faced in the last year?
  • How do you work under pressure?
  • What impact do you think…will have on our business?
  • How would you motivate an employee who was performing poorly?

Conflict Management and Ethics

  • How do you resolve conflict in the groups or teams that you membership of?
  • How would you resolve a dispute?
  • Tell me about a time when you bent the rules. When is it okay to do so?

Personal and Career Objectives

  • What are your short and long-term goals?
  • What are the most important things you are seeking in a career?
  • What person do you admire most and why?
  • Why do you want this position?

Knowledge of the Organisation and Role

  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What skills and personal qualities are essential for success in this role?
  • What would you like to know about this organisation?
  • What do you believe you can contribute to this organisation?
  • What do you know about our organisation?
  • Why are you interested in working for our organisation?
  • In what kind of a work environment are you most comfortable?
  • Tell me about a time when you have been managed in a good or bad way.
  • What qualities should a successful manager possess?
  • Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him or her.
  • What problems do you feel you will have fitting into the job?

Work Experience

  • Tell me about the best job you’ve ever had.
  • What did you enjoy most or least about your last job?
  • What extra-curricular activities are you involved in?

Academic Experience

  • If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  • Ability, Competence and Achievement
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?  Why?
  • What do you feel qualifies you for this position?

Stress Management

  • How do you react to criticism?
  • Can you accept criticism for poor work?
  • What causes you to lose your temper?
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