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Commonly Asked Tough Interview Questions -
The Long (and Growing!) List

Compiled for you by Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com

For additional help on preparing for interviews, see Interview Prep - before, during and after the interview. Or try the Tough Interview Questions Quiz - a quiz covering some of the most frequently asked tough interview questions and their best responses, in a multiple-choice format.

There are no “right” answers provided for the following commonly asked interview questions, because so much of this is subjective: dependent on the position (and the skills and qualifications necessary for the type of position being targeted), the specific company holding the position, the field or industry being targeted, and the personality of the particular interviewer. However, it is a very good idea to become familiar with the types of questions asked of job candidates at interviews, and to prepare thoughtful responses in advance.

It is also important to know what questions to ask during an interview, suggestions of which are included at the end of this article.

Questions That Your Resume and/or Cover Letter Should Answer (and that you'll likely be asked at interviews)

What are your qualifications for this position?

Why do you think you’ll be a good fit for this company?

What personal and professional qualifications do you possess that have allowed you to be successful in your field?

What specific strengths did you bring to the table?

What has been your most important work-related contribution?

What were your most memorable accomplishments in your last job, and the jobs proceeding it?

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your previous experience that will enable you to be successful in your next position?

What personality traits do you possess that you think are necessary to succeed in this field?

What is the most significant improvement in (your field or area of expertise) that you have achieved in the last year?

What can you do for us if we hire you?

Long List of Commonly Asked Tough Interview Questions

What do you think it takes for a person to be successful in your field?

How do you feel about looking for a new job?Sue Campbell has over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career, business and marketing goals.

What do you look for in a job and a company?

How would you define a conducive work environment?

How many projects can you handle at one time?

What activities do you / did you perform in your last position, and what was the approximate time devoted to each of these activities?

How have previous jobs prepared you for greater responsibility?

What was the least relevant job you have held?

How long will it take for you to make a contribution?

What did you enjoy most about your last job?

What did you enjoy least about your last job?

If there were two things you could change in your last or present job, what would they be and how would you change them?

Of all the work you have done, where have you been the most successful?

How could you have improved your performance in your last position?

Why do you want to work here?

Tell me about your understanding of the job you’re applying for?

When should we expect to see concrete results from you?

Tell me about a situation or position where you assumed responsibilities that were beyond your written or understood job description.

How much do outside influences play a role in your job performance?

Are you more of a task-oriented or project-oriented worker?

Why have you chosen this particular field?

What would you like to have done more of in your job?

Have you thought about why you might prefer to work for our company?

If you could eliminate one responsibility from your last job, what would it be?

What motivates you to put forth greater effort?

Describe your “dream” job.

Please rank the following from most important to least: job duties, hours, distance to work, pay, work environment.

How do you feel about your present workload?

What do you do when things are slow at work?

What have you learned from your mistakes?

Have you done the best work you’re capable of?

If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?

How do you keep professionally informed?

What is the most recent skill you’ve learned?

What is your learning style? Hands on, research, by example?

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?

How can we best reward you for doing a good job?

Why do you think you’ll be successful in this job?

Do you set performance standards for yourself? Do these evolve over time?

How do you cope with stress on the job?

What does the word “success” mean to you?

What does the word “failure” mean to you?

How do you go about making important decisions?

What kind of people do you prefer to work with?

What kinds of people do you find difficult it to work with?

What good or bad work habits did you pick up from your first job?

What’s more important to you, truth or comfort?

What is the most useful criticism you’ve ever received?

How, specifically, do you contribute toward a team environment?

Describe your leadership style.

If you’re hired for this job, how will you approach the first 30 days?

What is the most intellectually challenging thing you are looking for in a job and why?

What is the most creatively challenging thing you are looking for in a job?

How did you prepare for this interview?

What are the advantages of diversity in the workplace?

Can you sell me on our product/service?

How would you compare your verbal skills to your written skills?Sue Campbell has over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career, business and marketing goals.

Do you prefer to communicate in person, by phone or via e-mail?

When you’re assigned to work with new people, how do you go about getting to know them; who they are, how they work and what their strengths and weakness are?

What organizations do you see as this company’s major competitors? Can you compare and contrast the organizations?

What do you do to make the people around you feel important, appreciated, and respected?

How do you prioritize your time?

What decisions are easiest for you to make?

What decisions are the most difficult for you to make?

What project methodologies have you found most effective?

How do you usually confront subordinates when results are less than acceptable?

How do you handle interruptions, breaks in routine and last minute changes?

What would have to change in your present position in order for you to want to continue working there?

What is the most important feature to you in a job?

What pace do you prefer: steady, controlled, and predictable; fast-paced and deadline pressured; or electricity charged?

How did you get your last job?

I’ve interviewed several very good candidates, and you’re certainly one of them. What single message would you like me to remember that will convince me that you are the right person for this job?

What have you done to reduce your company’s operational costs?

How many hours a week do you need in order to complete your work?

How does your position relate to the overall goals of your current company?

What area of your skills would you like to improve in the next year?

What does “growth” mean to you?

What does “challenge” mean to you?

Tell me how you’ve added value to your job over time.

Have you ever needed to reinvent or redefine your job in order to meet your company’s expanding needs?

What proactive steps have you taken to increase the output of your position?

What would be your next logical move in progression at your current company?

Is your leadership style one of comfortably delegating responsibilities, or do you expect your reports to come to you for added responsibilities?

How would you describe the type of structure, feedback and direction you need in order to excel?

How would you gauge your ability to predict needs before they arise?

In what areas do you typically have the least amount of patience at work?

How would you grade your ability to communicate with peers, subordinates, customers, competitors and upper-level management?

Tell me about the last time you failed to meet a goal or objective. What plan of action did you take to get you back on track?

Tell me about the last time you inherited a problem.

How do you typically stay in the information loop?

What is the reason you’re leaving your current / left your last position?

How did you learn about this position?

There appears to be a gap of _____months/years on you resume. What were you doing during this time?

What do you think makes this position different from your current or last position?

Describe a situation where the team fell apart. What was your role in the outcome?

Describe a situation where the person you were dealing with enabled you to be more effective.

Do you want this job? Then why during our entire conversation haven’t you asked for it?

New Graduate; Commonly Asked Interview Questions

What made you choose this major?

Why did you attend this particular school?

How does your degree prepare you for a career in this industry?

What natural skills do you possess that made this the ideal academic and career choice?

How will your education help you to excel at a job here?

What qualifications do you have, beyond your academic achievements, that will enable you to excel or succeed within our company?

Do you think your grades are a good indicator of your ability to succeed here?

What other types of positions and companies are you considering right now?

In the non-related positions you’ve held, what transferable skills have you gained that you will apply here?

Questions Job Candidates Should Ask During Interviews

What do you see as this position's responsibilities on a daily basis? Weekly? Monthly?

How, if at all, do you see these responsibilities changing over time?

What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of this position?

What are some additional aspects of this position that are unique to your company?

What was the reason for this position's vacancy?

How long has this company been in business?

How many people do you employ?

How long does the average employee remain with your company?

What are this company’s current challenges?

What do you view as this company’s greatest goals and missions?

Has this company experienced a downsizing at any time in its history, and if so, when?

How long have you worked for this company?

What do like the most about your position here?Sue Campbell has over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career, business and marketing goals.

What is the work environment like day to day?

Is there anything else I should know about this company?

Are there any aspects of my skills or background that you would like to hear more about?

Is there a job description? May I see it?

How would my performance be measured and how is successful performance usually rewarded?

Can you describe your organizational culture?

By what criteria will you select the person for this job?

Why is this position open?

What salary range has been budgeted for this position?

Where does this position fit into the organization?

What kind of person are you looking for?

What happened to the last person holding this position?

To whom would I report?

What problems might I expect to encounter on this job?

Tell me about promotions and advancement in this company.

What are your expectations of the person hired for this position?

What are the three most significant things that need to be accomplished in this position in the first year and what do you foresee as the major hurdles?

Describe the performance evaluation procedures you use.

What tasks will occupy the majority of my time?

What will be my first assignment?

When can I expect to hear from you about the next stage in the interviewing process?

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?  /  1st-Writer.com Services

See more articles on job hunting

Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com - over 18 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!

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This page last updated: 01/20/2012