The Ten Toughest Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)




Tough interview questions are ones you wish they wouldn’t ask. The three greatest accomplishments are what you should share with every person you meet on an interview trip.

In answering these ten tough interview questions, keep in mind that you are always to keep your selling hat on. That is. Always give an answer that will help sell your capabilities. One good way to show your capabilities is to tell about accomplishments. Accomplishments in the past point to future accomplishments.

1. Why are you leaving?

  • Always attempt to give an answer which indicates you are an excellent person with a good future, but leaving anyway.
  • For example, I am on the list for promotion, but the people above me in the organization are all happy where they are, and none is likely to move up for five or ten years. I am not sure I want to wait that long.
  • The company is privately held. The owners are happy with the present position of the company and not willing to make the investment to reach the next level.
  • Things are fine with XYZ Company, but my wife and I are ready to start a family, and we want to be closer to our home states when we do so.

2. What are your growth prospects?

  • Excellent. In fact I have been offered a promotion, but I want to get some more diverse experience (in sales, marketing, etc.), and transfers between departments are very infrequent. I suspect my boss would not release other departments to consider me. That has happened in the past with other people.
  • Our company only makes prepreg, and I want to work further downstream where parts are produced. My experience working with customers has been very rewarding, and I want to gain experience in that area.
  • I am a Chemical Engineer, and this company is dominated by Mechanicals. There are several contributions I can make which are not being considered.

3. What are your greatest strengths?

  • Give education and experience, emphasizing accomplishments.

4. What are your greatest weaknesses?

  • Don’t go overboard, but give a weakness which is really strength. I work too hard. My wife tells me I don’t know when to quit.
  • Once I start a project it is hard for my supervisor to get me to stop. I will, but it’s hard for me. (Every personality has strengths and weaknesses. Just give the advantages of yours.)

5. What do you want to be doing in five years?

  • You should want to be promoted and under strong consideration for the next move up. This is the type person they are looking for. If they want someone who will be content with the status quo, why would you want to work there?

6. Would you take a personality or drug test?

  • Always say yes. They don’t ask unless it is a requirement of the job. If you think it is unconstitutional, complain to your Congressman, but not to the company.

7. How much money do you want to make on your next job?

  • Depends on when they ask. If it is early in the process, attempt to stall. Lets decide between us that I am the man for the job, and I am sure we can work that out later. If it is later, be prepared to give more of an answer. You should be learning about the opportunity starting now. When they ask this question at the end of the day, it is usually a buy sign. That is an excellent time to ask other questions which have come up in your research of the company and in talking to people.
  • If you are working with Composites Sources, then we have probably already given the employer an indication based on what you have told us.

8. How much do you currently earn?

  • Tell them. If you feel underpaid, say you are earning $X, but that is low for someone with your education, experience, and accomplishments. If you feel you are well paid, tell them. I earn, $X, but that is not the issue. I am more interested in the opportunity than the dollars. XYZ Company pays very well. I don’t expect much of an increase, especially since I would be moving to a much lower cost part of the country.

9. What do you think of your current boss?

  • If he is a great guy, say so. That is one of the reasons I will hate to leave. I have learned a lot from him.
  • If he is a jerk, say he is a demanding leader and he gets a lot of work out of his people, and you have learned a lot from him. Your job is to learn from your boss, regardless of his management style.
  • They usually ask this when they know about your boss. They want a confirmation of what they have heard, and a feel for your judgement of people. They also don’t want to hear you talk negatively about another person. Someday you might be talking about them like that,

10. What actions would you take if you came on board?

  • Give them an answer, but be sure to preface your answer with the fact that you have only been there for X days or hours, but as you see it now, you might try so and so.


Be sure to tell each person you meet about your three best accomplishments that relate to the job and their interest. Accountants need expense reports turned in on a timely basis. Co-workers need people who can be relied to come in at 2:00 AM when needed to help them finish a project. Upper level management should be looking for people with the potential to replace the person they report to so they can be promoted, or if they leave the company. So let them know of your accomplishments and your confidence that you will be able to be the same type contributor at the new employer.

Do not assume they will all get together tomorrow and make a decision on making you an offer. Treat each person as if they had the power to make you an offer. Sell each person, so that if your host steps in their office just after you leave, they will say that you would make a good addition to the staff. Sometimes it can happen that way. Some companies make offers the day of the interview.

Comments are closed.