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How To Handle Difficult Interview Questions


Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when faced with difficult questions that can determine your suitability for the role.

A lot of people will have experienced the rising panic when asked a tricky question.

Your mind starts to race as you desperately search for things from your career you can use as an example, or, even worse, goes totally blank.

Successfully surviving these questions can set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your problem-solving abilities, adaptability, and composure.

Here are some strategies to help you handle difficult interview questions effectively

The first step in handling difficult interview questions is to understand why they are being asked.

Interviewers often pose challenging questions to assess your critical thinking skills, how you handle pressure, and whether you can provide thoughtful, well-structured responses.

Recognizing this can help you approach each question with a strategic mindset rather than feeling intimidated.

When faced with a difficult question, it’s okay to take a moment to pause and reflect before answering.

This brief pause allows you to gather your thoughts and formulate a coherent response.

It also shows the interviewer that you are thoughtful and deliberate in your communication, rather than rushing to provide an answer.

Using a structured approach to answer difficult questions can help you communicate more clearly and effectively.

The STAR technique

One popular method is the STAR technique, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Describe the situation you were in, the task you needed to accomplish, the actions you took, and the results of those actions.

This approach is particularly useful for behavioral questions, which ask you to describe past experiences.

Maintain a positive attitude when answering difficult questions, even if they touch on challenging or negative experiences.

Focus on what you learned from the situation and how it helped you grow professionally.

Honesty is crucial; if you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s better to admit it rather than trying to bluff your way through.

You can express your willingness to learn or describe how you would go about finding the answer.

While you can’t anticipate every question, some difficult questions are common in many interviews.

Preparing for these can help you feel more confident and ready to respond.


  • “Tell me about a time you failed” where you should focus on what you learned from the failure and how it led to personal or professional growth; “
  • What are your weaknesses?” where you should choose a genuine weakness but emphasize the steps you are taking to improve in that area
  • “Why did you leave your last job?” where you should be honest but diplomatic, avoiding speaking negatively about past employers and focusing on your desire for new challenges or growth opportunities.

Active listening is crucial in an interview setting.

Ensure you fully understand the question before you start your response. If a question is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

This shows that you are engaged and seeking to provide a relevant and accurate answer.

Your demeanor during difficult questions can be as important as your answers.

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Staying calm and composed, maintaining eye contact, and using confident body language can help convey your professionalism and ability to handle pressure.

Handling difficult interview questions requires

  • Understanding the purpose behind them
  • Taking time to reflect before answering
  • Using structured responses
  • Maintaining a positive and honest approach
  • Preparing for common challenging questions
  • Practicing active listening
  • Staying calm and composed

By following these strategies, you can navigate tough interview questions effectively and make a strong impression on potential employers.

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