University of Wisconsin–Madison

Tough Questions Interviewers Ask and How to Answers Them

An interview isn’t a contest to see if the interviewer can stump the job candidate. However, interviewers can ask some thought-provoking, tough questions. Here are some questions we’ve collected from recruiters and suggestions for answering them:

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision, but didn’t have all the information you needed.
    Use a real anecdote from your experience to answer this question. The answer doesn’t have to be great and grand. It could be a simple situation that was handled well. It could demonstrate ability in your field. For example: You may want to tell the interviewer how you selected your college from among all the colleges you applied to. Were you satisfied with your choice? Why or why not?
  2. What suggestions do you have for our organization?
    Let’s say you’re interviewing with a retailer and you’re asked this question. Don’t answer with the expected answer—anything to do with upkeep of the organization’s stores. Instead, talk about merchandise that you might want to add…or how you would rearrange the stores’ layout and why. Your answer should reflect your creativity.
  3. What is the most significant contribution you made to the company during your internship/co-op?
    Tell a story about an accomplishment that added value to the company, demonstrating skills that show initiative or resilience. Tell the interviewer about the options and the outcome of your work.
  4. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
    Be honest. You’ll show credibility and integrity. While mistakes aren’t rewarded, sometimes making a mistake can show that you’ve pushed yourself to the limit. Be careful, however, to concentrate your answer on describing what you learned from your mistake.
  5. Was there anything today that you were afraid I was going to ask you? Why did it make you uncomfortable?
    The trick here is to keep your cool. Many people blurt out the question that they didn’t want asked—and that could raise new questions in the interviewer’s mind.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers