How to Handle Difficult Interview Questions

How to Handle Difficult Interview Questions

Category: Career Insights- Employee Blog

Views: 203 | June 9, 2024

Job interviews can be tough, especially when they ask tricky and difficult questions. To help you do well in your next interview, we've put together a guide on handling tough questions. Follow these tips to impress your potential bosses and get the job you want.

Why Handling Difficult Interview Questions Matters

Successfully addressing difficult interview questions can significantly impact your chances of landing the job. Employers use these questions to assess various aspects of your candidacy, including your ability to think on your feet, communicate effectively, and demonstrate resilience in challenging situations. Mastering the art of handling tough interview questions can make you stand out as a strong candidate and increase your likelihood of securing the position.

Understanding the Purpose of Difficult Interview Questions

Difficult interview questions are often crafted to evaluate more than just our technical abilities. They want to see how we solve problems, think critically, handle emotions, and perform under pressure.  By understanding the intent behind these questions, we can better prepare and deliver confident, well-rounded responses.

Types of Difficult Interview Questions

  1. Behavioral Questions

  2. Situational Questions

  3. Technical Questions

  4. Abstract Questions

Mastering Behavioral Questions

Behavioral questions typically begin with phrases like "Tell me about a time when..." or "Give an example of...". They aim to predict our future behavior based on past experiences.

The STAR Method

Using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is an effective way to structure our answers:

  • Situation: Describe the context within which we performed a task or faced a challenge.
  • Task: Explain the actual task or challenge involved.
  • Action: Detail the specific actions we took to address the task or challenge.
  • Result: Share the outcomes or results of our actions, emphasizing what we learned or achieved.

Example Question: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult coworker.

Navigating Situational Questions

Situational questions are hypothetical and assess our problem-solving and decision-making abilities. They usually start with "What would you do if...".

Key Strategies for Situational Questions

  • Clarify the Situation: Ensure we fully understand the scenario before responding.
  • Think Aloud: Demonstrate our thought process and rationale for our decisions.
  • Align with Company Values: Tailor our answers to reflect the company's values and priorities.

Example Question: What would you do if you were given a project with an unrealistic deadline?

Tackling Technical Questions

Technical questions evaluate our industry-specific knowledge and expertise. Preparation is key to handling these questions confidently.

Preparation Tips for Technical Questions

  • Review Core Concepts: Refresh our knowledge on fundamental theories and principles relevant to our field.
  • Practice Problem-Solving: Engage in regular problem-solving exercises and coding challenges if applicable.
  • Stay Updated: Keep abreast of the latest industry trends, tools, and technologies.

Example Question: Explain a complex technical concept to a non-technical person.

Responding to Abstract Questions

Abstract questions often seem unrelated to the job but test our creativity, critical thinking, and ability to handle ambiguity.

Approach to Abstract Questions

  • Stay Calm: Take a moment to collect our thoughts and avoid rushing into an answer.
  • Be Creative: Embrace the opportunity to showcase our unique perspective and innovative thinking.
  • Relate to the Job: Where possible, connect our answer to skills or experiences relevant to the position.

Example Question: If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?

General Tips for Handling Difficult Interview Questions

Practice and Preparation

The importance of thorough preparation cannot be overstated. Regularly practicing with mock interviews and familiarizing ourselves with common difficult questions helps build confidence and refine our responses.

Maintain Composure

Staying calm under pressure is important. Deep breathing and pausing before answering allows us to collect our thoughts and deliver clear, concise responses.

Honesty is the Best Policy

It’s better to admit if we don’t know the answer to a particularly challenging question than to bluff. Employers appreciate honesty and the willingness to learn.

Ask for Clarification

If a question is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for more information. This shows our attention to detail and commitment to providing accurate answers.

Use Positive Body Language

Non-verbal cues such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and sitting up straight convey confidence and engagement.


Dealing with tough interview questions needs preparation, practice, and good strategies. Knowing what questions to expect and using methods like STAR, talking through thoughts, and matching answers with company values helps us handle even the hardest interviews confidently. Each tough question is a chance to show our skills, experiences, and what makes us the ideal fit for the job.