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Difficult Interview Questions and Answers

Interview Questions


It’s inevitable: If you go to many job interviews, you are eventually going to be asked some awkward, uncomfortable interview questions, or even some illegal interview questions. We have compiled a short list of some of the most difficult questions and some advice on how to get you past these little bumps during a job interview.


Sample Interview Questions

* Why did you quit your last job? This question is not on the list of illegal interview questions – it is perfectly acceptable to ask this question. It can be one of the most difficult to answer, though. You don’t want to cast yourself in a bad light, but you also don’t want to make the company you previously worked for look bad – no employer wants to hire someone that is still angry at their last company or “trash talks” their old boss. The best answer is sometimes the simplest – answer the question without going into too much depth. Something along the lines of “I enjoyed working for XYZ, but the company and I were headed in different directions and mutually decided it best if we parted ways” can answer the question without making anyone look bad.

* What pay rate are you looking to get? This is one of the most difficult interview questions. You don’t want to state a number that is way too high – the employer will immediately decide they can’t afford you and not even give you a chance at the job. Likewise, if you state a number that is too low, you may sell yourself short. Especially if the employer already had an amount in mind and you gave a much lower number. Many job seekers like to answer this question vaguely. Something along the lines of “I’m open to discussion – I’d like to hear the job duties and responsibilities and then maybe we can come up with an amount together?” is an appropriate answer.

* So, how many kids do you have and how do you think you’ll be able to handle the job and your kids at the same time? This is one of the illegal interview questions you might be asked. Respectfully decline to answer any questions along these lines. You are not required to disclose this information.

As always, it’s best to seek the advice of a professional such as an interview coach, recruiting agency or resume writer that assists job seekers with resumes and interview questions. They can look over your resume and help anticipate any awkward questions you might be asked. They can tell you how to answer these questions, and even do some role playing to help you be able to answer questions without faltering or searching for answers.  Additional information  that address interview questions can be found on our site under the  Interview Prep section.

Interview Etiquette: What to include in a Interview Follow up email

Sending a interview follow up email is very important.  It lets the employer know that you appreciate their time and are sincere in your desire to be a part of their company. Always send an interview follow up email to let the hiring official for the company you interviewed with know that you appreciate their consideration, then send an actual snail-mail letter reiterating the same things, but adding more depth and detail.

What to include in an interview follow up email:

Thank You: Always say thank you and let the employer know that you appreciate the chance to interview with them and learn more about their company and show them more about you. But don’t go overboard. There is a fine line between gratitude and sucking up. Start your interview follow up email with a word of thanks, then close the email with a professional “thank you.” This should sufficiently get your point across without turning the hiring official off.

Recap the Interview: Select a high point or two from the interview and touch on those in the email. Let the employer know that you were impressed by something about the company (the employee satisfaction rate / low turnover rate, or the amount of new jobs the employer has brought to the community). This lets the employer know that you were paying attention at the interview, and you are truly interested in the company as a career and not just a job to earn money from.

Keep Communication Open: Close the interview follow up email by inviting the employer to call you if there are any questions or if they need more information. Let them also know that you look forward to speaking to them in the future and continuing the hiring process if you are selected.

An employer sifts through many job applications and resumes, and interviews many applicants for a position. Your interview follow up email should help you stand out from the crowd and remind the employer of who you are and what you can bring to the table. Always get your email sent within 2 business days of your interview. Don’t rush home and immediately email the employer, but send it the next business day. You don’t want to look over-eager by bombarding them with an email right away, nor do you want to look uninterested by waiting days or even weeks to follow up after the interview. Many employers hire based on a person’s pre-interview and post-interview etiquette, so make sure your manners stand out from the crowd.

***Remember following up after the interview is a very important part of the interview process.***

A number of different samples of interview follow up material can be found on the following topics:

Interview Follow-Up Email Sample

Interview Thank You Email Samples

Email Interview Follow-Up Letter Template


How to Answer Basic Job Interview Questions

Many people get nervous before a job interview, wondering how to answer job interview questions. The best advice is to just be honest when you answer common interview questions, but don’t offer extra information above and beyond what the hiring official asks you. Use this list of common interview questions to help you prepare. It helps to write out the answers to these job interview questions, then practice saying them as if you were at an interview. You want your answers to job interview questions to sound polished and professional, but not rehearsed.

List of Common Interview Questions:

“What salary are you willing to accept?” is a job interview question that is often asked. Be honest. If they can’t afford to hire you, it’s only fair to let them know up front so they don’t waste your time continuing with the interview process. But don’t throw out a huge number that is out of the realm of possibility, either. It helps to throw out a number and let them know that your price is negotiable, in case they are able to work their budget around your needs.

“Why did you leave your last job?” is another job interview question. This is perhaps one of the most difficult questions to answer, especially if you left under bad terms. Let the prospective employer know that you and your previous employer had different goals, or were moving in different directions and you decided to part ways. If they want you to elaborate, try to keep things positive.  Never, under any circumstances, bad-mouth or trash-talk your previous employer. That makes you look bad, and makes the employer want to steer clear of you, so they don’t end up on the receiving end some day.

“Why do you want to work for us?” is an important job interview question. This is a common interview question, but may be hard to answer. Many people just need a job and some kind of income, and don’t care where they work, as long as the job isn’t miserable. However, telling a prospective employer that you want to work for them because you need money doesn’t really cast you in a great light. Without going overboard and looking like you are kissing up, let the employer know that their company has a great reputation with high employee satisfaction, that the company appears to be going great places, and you want to be a part of it.

Job interview questions are designed to get a feel for you as a person. Remember to stay positive. A great attitude will go great lengths to help you land the perfect job! offers interview coaching options that  include professional interview coaching material or live interview coaching.  These programs will provide you with job interview questions and answers and prepare you for the job interview, for more information Click Here.



What to Expect on a Telephone Interview

Telephone Interview


A telephone interview is normally conducted by an employer and acts as a screening interview.  It is also beneficial to conduct a telephone interview when a prospective employee lives out of the commuting area or has other circumstances, such as military duty, that keeps the individual from attending an interview in person. A phone interview also gives the hiring official or team an opportunity to speak to candidates that they might not otherwise have access to. While a face-to-face interview is always best, a telephone interviewallows the employer a chance to ask you some questions and get to know you beyond the information you provided in your resume and cover letter.  In addition this type of interview also saves the interviewing company time and money.

* Personnel: You may be interviewed by the hiring manager , Human Resource Representative or a team of interviewers. A representative from the Human Resource department, your prospective supervisor and any other related personnel will be on hand, each with their own set of questions for you.

* Introduction: The HR Representative, hiring manager or the head member of the interview team will make the introductions and lay out the format for the interview. A typical interview consists of some background information and an overview of the company, then the exact job position and salary specifications will be discussed. Each interviewer will ask you some questions about yourself, and then you’ll be allowed a chance to raise any questions or concerns of your own with the interview panel.

* Questions: Each interviewer will have an opportunity to present some questions to you to get your feedback.  These may be easy questions, such as where you went to college, what your career goals are, or what type of degree you received. Interview questions can also be more complex. Many interviewers like to present you with some quick scenarios and ask how you will handle them when they arise on the job. Don’t stress over this – answer honestly and take your time.

* Feedback: A telephone interview usually wraps up with a chance for you to ask questions of the interviewers and raise any concerns that you have. Spend some time researching the company before the interview, and read the job description thoroughly so you don’t ask any questions that have already been addressed elsewhere. If you don’t have any questions, that’s fine. But make sure to take a few moments at the end of the interview to thank the prospective employer for their time and for allowing you to interview with them.

Remember that a telephone interview is a screening interview that is used to determine if you are a candidate that meets the criteria of being called in for another interview with Human Resources, and other hiring personnel in the company.  Following your telephone interview, it is good form to send a thank you letter to the company, thanking them for their time and consideration, and letting them know that you look forward to hearing back from them.  Sample telephone interview questions are available in our blog article titled  Types of Interviews:  Phone Interview Questions.


Types of Interviews: Phone Interview Questions

Phone Interivew Questions

Phone interview questions fall under several different categories, ranging from simple interview questions that a job prospect can answer from the top of their head, to more complex scenarios that take some thought to answer. Many different interview questions can be asked during a phone interview. It’s always a good idea to seek the services of a job counseling center, agency or to invest in some interview coaching material that assists job seekers with interview skills and finding employment. Most of these agencies provide their services for an affordable fee or at no charge at all, and a session or two with them can help you immensely when you go for a job interview. No matter what telephone interview questions an interviewer asks you, always remember to answer truthfully and thoroughly. Keep a positive attitude, take your time with each of the phone interview questions and relax.

Personal Questions: Interviewers want to know about you as a person. They’ll begin the phone interview questions and answers portion of the interview by asking you a little bit about yourself. This not only gives them some insight into who you are, but also helps break the ice and help all involved parties to relax. Expect questions about your employment history, your educational background, and your career goals. You may also be asked about your volunteer activities and professional memberships.

Job-Related Questions: Interviewers want to know what type of experience you have on the job. You will be asked some phone interview questions about your duties at other jobs systems and software that you have experience with. This helps the employer get an idea about what kind of training will be necessary to get you up to speed once you begin the job if you are hired. It also obviously tells them if you are qualified for the position.

Strengths and Weaknesses: A common set of phone interview questions that is asked by prospective employers is what you perceive to be your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone likes to discuss their strengths, but most applicants have a hard time coming up with weaknesses to share. Everyone has something that they need to work on however, so spend some time thinking on this question before you interview.  Remember that a weakness should be something positive that you could improve upon.

Job-Related Scenarios: Many employers will come up with some job-related scenarios and ask “What Would You Do?” For example, if you are applying for a job as a teacher, you may be asked what teaching techniques you would use with a student that is having difficulty grasping a concept in the classroom. A truck driver might be asked what they would do in a certain traffic situation. Don’t stress over these phone interview questions – just answer as thoroughly and honestly as possible.


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