The Most Difficult Interview Question to Answer: Ranking the Toughest Challenge

Choose the interview question you think is the most difficult!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Mar 2, 2024 05:38
Step right up and dive into the world of StrawPoll's latest and most intriguing ranking – "What is the most difficult interview question to answer?" We've compiled a head-scratching list of questions that have left even the most seasoned professionals stumped. But wait, there's more! Cast your vote for the question that left you speechless, or throw in the wildcard and suggest a question that we've missed. Join countless others as we explore the enigmatic realm of interview questions that leave us all a little tongue-tied. So, are you ready to put your interview skills to the test? Click through and let the ranking begin!

What Is the Most Difficult Interview Question to Answer?

  1. 1
    25
    votes
    This question can be difficult to answer because it's vague and can be interpreted in many ways. It's important to focus on relevant information that showcases your skills and experiences.
    The 'Tell me about yourself' question is a commonly asked interview question that is designed to allow the interviewer to learn more about the candidate's background, experiences, skills, and personal attributes. It provides an opportunity for the candidate to introduce themselves in a concise and compelling way.
    • Question Type: Open-ended
    • Purpose: To learn about the candidate's background and experiences
    • Length: Usually answered in 2-3 minutes
    • Content: Typically includes professional history, key achievements, skills, and personal attributes
    • Flexibility: Allows candidates to highlight the most relevant aspects of their background
  2. 2
    41
    votes
    This question can be tricky because you don't want to appear too negative, but you also don't want to come across as arrogant. It's important to choose a weakness that you've worked on improving.
    The question 'What is your greatest weakness?' is a commonly asked interview question that aims to assess a candidate's self-awareness, ability to reflect on personal limitations, and willingness to improve.
    • Purpose: Evaluate a candidate's self-awareness and ability to acknowledge personal weaknesses.
    • Assessment Area: Personal Reflection and Growth
    • Expected Response: Demonstrate self-awareness, discuss a genuine weakness, and showcase efforts made to overcome or manage it.
    • Desired Traits: Honesty, Self-Improvement, Openness to Feedback, Willingness to Learn
    • Challenges: Balancing the need to acknowledge a genuine weakness without jeopardizing chances of securing the position.
  3. 3
    13
    votes
    This question can be difficult because you need to sell yourself without sounding too boastful. It's important to highlight your skills and experiences that align with the job requirements.
    The 'Why should we hire you?' question is a commonly asked question in job interviews where the interviewer wants to assess why the candidate is the best fit for the role and what unique qualities they bring to the table.
    • Purpose: To evaluate the candidate's self-awareness, confidence, and ability to explain how their skills and experiences make them the ideal candidate for the job.
    • Assessment: Evaluate the candidate's understanding of the job requirements, industry knowledge, and ability to align their qualifications with the company's needs.
    • Expected Response: A well-prepared response that highlights the candidate's relevant skills, experiences, accomplishments, and their alignment with the job description.
    • Effective Strategies: Identifying the employer's pain points and addressing how the candidate can solve them, providing specific examples of achievements, and showcasing enthusiasm for the role.
    • Key Points: Demonstrate a clear understanding of the company's mission and values, emphasize how the candidate's unique qualities and experiences align with the company culture.
    Why should we hire you? in other rankings
  4. 4
    21
    votes
    This question can be difficult because everyone is motivated by different things. It's important to be honest and explain what drives you to do your best work.
    The 'What motivates you?' interview question is designed to understand what drives an individual to perform well and stay committed in a work environment. It seeks to uncover the candidate's personal and professional interests, goals, values, and their ability to self-motivate.
    • Question Type: Open-ended, behavioral question
    • Purpose: To assess the candidate's self-awareness, passion, and alignment with the company's values
    • Response Length: Varies, but usually requires a thoughtful and well-articulated response
    • Expected Skills: Ability to introspect, articulate personal and professional motivations, and connect them with the job at hand
    • Evaluation Criteria: Relevance, authenticity, clarity, coherence, and enthusiasm in the response
    What motivates you? in other rankings
  5. 5
    13
    votes
    This question can be difficult because it requires you to have a clear plan for your career. It's important to show that you're ambitious and have goals, but also flexible and open to new opportunities.
    The question 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' is a commonly asked interview question that seeks to assess the candidate's long-term goals, career aspirations, and commitment to their professional growth.
    • Question Purpose: Assess candidate's long-term goals and commitment to professional growth.
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate to High
    • Objective: Evaluate candidate's ambition, career planning, and alignment with company goals.
    • Insights: Provides insight into the candidate's motivation, drive, and their ability to align personal aspirations with the organization's objectives.
    • Evaluation Criteria: Candidate's clarity, realistic goals, awareness of industry trends, understanding of the company, growth mindset, and commitment.
  6. 6
    16
    votes
    This question can be difficult because it requires you to be vulnerable and admit to a mistake. It's important to explain what you learned from the experience and how you've grown as a result.
    The question 'Can you tell me about a time when you failed?' is known to be one of the most difficult interview questions. It is designed to assess how a candidate acknowledges and learns from failure, displays resilience, and handles challenging situations.
    • Category: Interview question
    • Purpose: Assess candidate's ability to learn from failure and handle adversity
    • Difficulty Level: High
    • Expected Answer: Candidate should share a specific failure, explain the circumstances, describe the actions taken to address it, and highlight the lessons learned
    • Evaluation Criteria: Ability to reflect on failure, accountability, problem-solving skills, resilience, learning agility
  7. 7
    9
    votes
    This question can be difficult because everyone copes with stress differently. It's important to explain what strategies you use to manage stress and stay productive.
    The 'How do you handle stress?' interview question is designed to assess how well a candidate manages and copes with stressful situations in the workplace. Interviewers ask this question to evaluate a candidate's ability to handle pressure, stay focused, and make rational decisions under stress.
    • Assessment of coping mechanisms: Evaluates the candidate's ability to manage stress and their strategies for dealing with it
    • Problem-solving skills: Assesses how the candidate approaches challenges and finds solutions under pressure
    • Emotional intelligence: Determines if the candidate can regulate their emotions and maintain composure during stressful situations
    • Communication skills: Evaluates the candidate's ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with others when facing stress
    • Adaptability: Assesses the candidate's capacity to adapt and adjust to changing circumstances and unexpected stressors
    How do you handle stress? in other rankings
  8. 8
    5
    votes
    This question can be difficult because you don't want to undervalue yourself, but you also don't want to price yourself out of the job. It's important to do your research and have a realistic salary range in mind.
    The "What salary are you looking for?" question is commonly asked during job interviews and can be difficult to answer correctly. It aims to gather information about the candidate's salary expectations and negotiate a suitable compensation package.
    • 1: Requires candidates to disclose their salary expectations.
    • 2: Evaluates whether candidates' salary expectations align with the company's budget.
    • 3: Assesses candidates' understanding of their own market value and industry standards.
    • 4: Tests candidates' negotiation skills and ability to articulate their worth.
    • 5: Provides an opportunity for employers to evaluate candidate expectations against internal salary structures.
  9. 9
    8
    votes
    This question can be difficult because you don't want to speak negatively about your previous employer. It's important to be honest about your reasons for leaving and focus on what you learned from the experience.
    The question, 'Why did you leave your last job?' is one of the most difficult interview questions to answer as it requires the interviewee to delicately balance honesty and diplomacy. This question aims to assess the candidate's reasons for leaving their previous employment, their level of professionalism in handling job transitions, and their ability to reflect on their career choices.
    • Purpose: To understand the motives behind leaving the previous job.
    • Assessment: Evaluate the candidate's professionalism, self-awareness, and potential cultural fit.
    • Complexity: Moderate to high, as the candidate needs to discuss any negative aspects without portraying themselves negatively.
    • Introspection: Requires self-reflection and analysis of personal and professional growth.
    • Diplomacy: Reveals the candidate's ability to discuss sensitive topics with tact and without blame.
    Why did you leave your last job? in other rankings
  10. 10
    8
    votes
    This question can be difficult because it requires you to stand out from other candidates. It's important to highlight your strengths and experiences that make you a valuable asset to the company.
    The question 'What makes you unique?' is a popular and challenging interview question commonly asked by employers to candidates. It aims to assess the candidate's self-awareness, confidence, and ability to differentiate themselves from other applicants.
    • Purpose: To evaluate the candidate's understanding of their own strengths, abilities, and what sets them apart from other candidates.
    • Assessment: Determines the candidate's level of self-awareness, confidence, and ability to articulate their unique qualities.
    • Challenge Level: Challenging, as it requires self-reflection and the ability to articulate aspects of oneself that make them stand out.
    • Expected Response: Candidates are expected to highlight their unique skills, experiences, or personal qualities that align with the job requirements and demonstrate how they can bring value to the organization.
    • Evaluation Factors: The uniqueness and relevance of the mentioned qualities, the candidate's ability to communicate effectively, and the alignment with the job requirements.

Missing your favorite interview question?

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Discussion

Ranking factors for difficult interview question

  1. Ambiguity of the question
    If the question is poorly defined or open to interpretation, it can be challenging to answer because the candidate may not be certain about what the interviewer is seeking.
  2. Personal nature
    Questions that require self-assessment or delve into personal experiences, beliefs, or emotions may be challenging to answer, as they require the candidate to be introspective and candid.
  3. Controversial topics
    Questions about politics, religion, or other controversial issues can be difficult to answer because it may be challenging for the candidate to express their opinion without offending the interviewer or taking an unpopular stance.
  4. Technical complexity
    Questions that require deep technical knowledge or understanding of complex concepts may be difficult for a candidate to answer if they lack the requisite expertise or experience.
  5. Hypothetical scenarios
    Questions that ask the candidate to speculate about future events, hypothetical situations, or potential challenges can be difficult to answer because they require the candidate to think on their feet, make decisions based on incomplete information, and consider multiple possible outcomes.
  6. Critical thinking and problem-solving
    These types of questions may require the candidate to identify and analyze problems, synthesize information, and propose creative solutions. These can be difficult to answer because they require the candidate to draw on their analytical and critical thinking skills.
  7. Time pressure
    Questions that require the candidate to produce a thoughtful, well-reasoned response within a short period may be challenging to answer due to time constraints and the need to think quickly.
  8. Uncommon or unexpected topics
    Questions about niche areas, specialized knowledge, or topics not commonly discussed in interviews can be difficult for candidates to answer because they may be unfamiliar with the subject matter or caught off guard by the question.
  9. Dealing with failures or weakness
    Questions that require the candidate to discuss their past failures, mistakes, or weaknesses can be difficult to answer because they require the candidate to be vulnerable and open about their flaws and shortcomings.
  10. Comparisons or competition
    Questions that ask the candidate to compare themselves to others, express their unique attributes, or justify their candidacy against other potential applicants may be difficult because they require the candidate to demonstrate self-confidence and assertiveness while remaining respectful and measured.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most difficult interview question to answer. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or question is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!

Statistics

  • 1143 views
  • 159 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each question once every 24 hours. The rank of each question is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More information on most difficult interview question to answer

Interviews are a crucial part of the job search process. They provide an opportunity for employers to evaluate a candidate's qualifications, skills, and overall fit for the position. However, interviews can also be nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to answering difficult questions. One of the most challenging aspects of an interview is being asked a question that catches you off guard or requires you to think on your feet. In this article, we will explore some of the most difficult interview questions that candidates may encounter and provide tips on how to answer them effectively.

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