Predicting Difficult Job Interview Questions

You can often predict most of the difficult job interview questions an employer will ask, and if you can predict the tough questions, you can prepare great answers. Here's how to do it.

Most employers use a few very common questions with a few slight variations.

You simply need to think through the employer's biggest concerns when hiring someone in your field, and you'll be able to determine most of the tough questions you'll probably be asked in a job interview.

How to Predict Difficult Job Interview Questions

The best way to predict difficult job-specific employment interview questions you might be asked is to think about the most important, consequential and difficult tasks or situations you might need to handle on the job.

These tasks or situations might not be the routine things you do every day. Instead, think about those very important tasks you do at work that could have big consequences if not done correctly, or tasks that are difficult to do well.

You will need to be ready to demonstrate to an interviewer that you can handle those types of tasks well because those are the types of job-specific questions you will likely be asked.

Examples

  • A person interviewing for a sales position might be asked what he or she would do if one of the company's biggest customers was irate because of a mistake with an order and threatened to take their business elsewhere.
  • A person interviewing for a counseling job might be asked if he or she had ever dealt with a client who appeared to be at risk of suicide and how the situation was handled.
  • A person interviewing for an office manager job might be asked how he or she might handle a situation where someone they managed was constantly coming in late and asking for days off work due to personal problems.

Many of the difficult job-specific question you will likely encounter will take the form of situational questions (questions that ask how you have handled a specific situation in the past) or behavioral questions (questions that ask how you would behave in a specific, hypothetical situation).

If you review the articles about these types of questions, you'll be prepared to answer many of the difficult, job-specific questions an employer is likely to ask.

Behavioral Questions
Situational Questions
STAR Technique for Answering Behavioral and Situational Questions

Issues That Might Concern an Employer

You also need to predict any issues in your work experience that might concern an employer, so you can handle questions about those issues well.

If you have any of the following issues in your career history, be prepared with a clear explanation and a reason why it won't affect your ability to be a great employee.

Be ready with a clear explanation if you:

  • were fired from your last job
  • have a recent and large (over 6 months) gap in your work history
  • have recently held several different jobs in a short period of time
  • recently started, but did not complete a degree or diploma
  • are lacking a specific skill or qualification that is necessary for the job
  • have no experience doing the type of job you are interviewing for

In general, if you are asked about anything that might be a concern to employers:

  • Briefly explain the situation.
  • Describe the positive steps you have taken (or are currently taking) to successfully resolve the situation.
  • If the situation had a positive outcome, describe that positive outcome so the employer is not concerned that it will be a problem in the future.

The difficult job interview questions are usually the ones that make or break an interview. They either convince the employer you would be an outstanding employee or completely take you out of the running for the job. Be prepared to answer the questions well, and you will make a great impression.

You may also want to review a list of common job interview questions. These questions are frequently ask by employers in many industries, and you should always be prepared with good answers to them.

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