The most difficult interview questions

Learn strategies for answering some of the toughest interview questions.

You reworked your resume, perfected your cover letter, and landed the big job interview. But walking through the door is only the beginning. You know the person across the table from you will ask some difficult interview questions. If you don’t know how to respond, consider yourself toast.

Smart hiring managers ask tough interview questions to whittle down their pool of potential hires, which is why it’s important for you to prepare in advance. Start with these.

Strengths-and-weaknesses interview questions are a given. You’ll want to use some care when choosing your answering the greatest weakness portion. “So many articles say that you should make your biggest weakness a positive attribute, which is not something I recommend doing,” says Brenda Abdilla, a Denver-based career and leadership coach. “This is not an opportunity to humblebrag.”

At the same time, “you want to be real and truthful about an area of development you truly need, but you want to avoid sharing something that’s serious and going to raise a red flag that you’re not a suitable candidate,” cautions Kathy Caprino, a Connecticut-based career coach and author of the book The Most Powerful You. 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss. 

No matter what your answer is, make sure you impress upon the hiring manager that you’re taking steps to improve.

My analytical skills are very strong and I’m extremely comfortable with numbers, but I’m working on enhancing my writing skills.

In the past, I’ve taken on a bit more than I can chew, so I’m honing my ability to manage my time better and making sure I understand what’s involved in extra tasks I say ‘yes’ to.

Don’t let difficult interview questions such as this one psych you out. Job search strategist Jenny Foss says the best way to craft an answer to this question is to determine what sets you apart from your competition.

Tying your strengths to the requirements in the job description is a must, Abdilla says. It will prove to a hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job.

It looks like having project management experience and technical acumen is critical to this role. Let me tell you about how I’ve developed those skills at my previous jobs.

The numbers I achieved at my current job show my dedication to performance. They’re an example of the kind of results you can expect from me.

Even if you hated your last job, you never want to talk badly about a former employer, Foss says. Caprino agrees: “Don’t talk about a toxic boss, problems with other people, lousy leadership, too much work, too little time off or too much pressure. Instead, focus on a circumstance that made success more challenging without pointing fingers