Tricky interview questions: what are the answers employers are looking for

Navigating tough interview questions is crucial for students aiming to secure their dream job post-graduation. Understanding how to effectively respond to these is definitely something that everyone needs to know how to do. But whenever asked these, many people wonder, what’s the answer that the employer is looking for? What should they showcase? And here is my guide to some of the most trickiest ones!

  • “Why do you think you will be successful in this job?”

    • Tailor your response to match your skills, interests, and experiences with the job requirements.
    • Showcase your understanding of the role and how you can contribute to the company’s success.
  • “What are your career goals?”

    • Demonstrate your commitment to your chosen career path and the company.
    • Showcase your research into the industry and your long-term aspirations.
  • “What is your biggest weakness?”

    • Frame your answer positively, possibly by discussing how you overcome potential downsides of your strengths.
    • Provide examples of how you manage or mitigate challenges related to your weaknesses.
  • “What is your most significant achievement?”

    • This question delves into your values and attitude, often extending beyond academic achievements.
    • Employers seek genuine pride in accomplishments, particularly those showcasing leadership, perseverance, or overcoming obstacles.
    • Opt for examples from extracurricular activities or work experiences that highlight your strengths and align with the job role.
  • “What motivates you?”

    • Often asked in strengths-based interviews, focusing on your passions and strengths.
    • Share examples from your experiences that indicate strong motivation for the specific job you’re applying for.
  • “Give an example of a time when you showed initiative.”

    • Avoid merely describing ideas without action; focus on instances where you not only proposed a solution but also implemented it.
    • Highlight the positive outcomes or impact of your initiative to demonstrate effectiveness.
  • “What can you bring to the company?”

    • Showcase your skills, experiences, achievements, values, and enthusiasm.
    • Tailor your response based on thorough research of the company, ensuring a balance between confidence and humility.
  • “Where do you expect to be in five years’ time?”

    • Demonstrate enthusiasm and ambition while aligning your goals with the company’s mission and industry trends.
    • Tailor your response to reflect your understanding of the organization, sector, and your own experiences and skills.
  • “What has been your biggest failure?”

    • Use this question to showcase resilience and growth mindset.
    • Discuss how you learned from setbacks and turned them into opportunities for personal or professional development.
  • “How do you handle stress?”

    • Demonstrate your coping mechanisms and resilience in stressful situations.
    • Share specific strategies or experiences that highlight your ability to manage stress effectively.
  • “How do you deal with conflict?”

    • Provide examples of conflict resolution and communication skills.
    • Emphasize collaboration, problem-solving, and maintaining professionalism during conflicts.

Mastering these responses demonstrates not only competence but also the values and attitude sought by employers. So these questions are not something you need to be scared of! Instead, use them as an opportunity to sell yourself, and show that you’d be the perfect fit for your potential employer.

What’s the toughest question you’ve been asked at a job interview?


Being well-prepared for questions like these is super-important, and this is a pretty comprehensive set of likely questions, @Kat!

In my experience as an interviewer, the ability to answer confidently without seeming to be “thrown” by something I’ve asked - which is never so “left-field” as to totally take the interviewee by surprise if they’re well-prepared - is a huge plus in an interview. Notice how many of these questions are about your soft-skills, along with how you think you will bring value to the organisation. Understanding this is the key to being successful at interview.

And like everything, it takes practice - so take every opportunity to be interviewed, especially practice interviews by employers working with your university careers service.

Go get that opportunity! :rocket:


The star method is very helpful with questions like ’ Give an example of a time when you showed initiative


do you know if there are any specific industries or types of jobs where these questions tend to be particularly challenging or where employers place a higher emphasis on certain types of responses?

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my toughest question was what environment and what kind of people do u not want to work with

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I’ve encountered many of such question when interviwing for corporate communications/marketing jobs. It’s essential to be able to cope with stress, work individually and as part of a team, not to mention being adaptable too! So pretty much everywhere, where similar skills are needed, you’d tend to hear a lot of behavioural questions before even reaching the technical stage

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