Career Talk

/ 9 months ago /

 Article by Graduate Coach

How to answer difficult interview questions

The idea of not being able to answer a difficult interview question fills many graduates with dread. What should you do if you’re asked a question that you don’t know how to answer? 

In this post, we will outline how to avoid winding up in this situation and share tips on answering difficult interview questions.

difficult interview question

Preparation is key

The more prepared you are for your interviews, the less difficult the questions will seem. Interview questions are not designed to trip you up; graduate recruiters ultimately want to determine which candidates closely align with the company’s culture and have the competencies required for the role. 

In order to do this, they will ask different types of interview questions. Here are some examples of questions you may be asked: 

  • Case questions – these questions evaluate the process that you use to solve problems. 
  • Behavioural questions – these questions examine how you would act in certain situations. 
  • Competency questions – these questions align your skills, behaviour and past experiences with specific competencies that are required for the role. 

Your perception of how difficult interview questions are will depend on how prepared you areIf you are fully prepared for all of the different types of questions you may be asked, you won’t perceive them as being difficult.

Tip: Before your next interview, ensure that you know everything that is humanly possible about the role, company and industry. 

Action point 1: Familiarise yourself with the different types of interview questions. 

Action point 2: Research different questions you may be asked.

If you would like to learn how to get really good at performing highly in interviews, check out Graduate Coach’s online interview course

What should you do if an interview question catches you off guard?

If you are in an interview and are asked a question that you are having difficulty answering, do not panic. Remember, the interviewer isn’t trying to trip you up. 

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer for some time to think about your response. Doing this demonstrates your ability to communicate and quickly initiate a plan for handling unexpected situations.

Being honest with the interviewer by admitting that you find this a difficult interview question and that you need a few moments to reflect, you will also show that you are willing to come up with a well thought out response. This is a much better approach than telling the interviewer that you can’t answer the question. 

Also, don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer questions to clarify what they are asking you. Doing this will help you to answer the interviewer’s question accurately without going off-topic. 


  • Prepare adequately for your interviews. The more prepared you are when you go into your interview, the less difficult you will find the experience. For additional help with your preparation, consider getting some interview coaching
  • Understand the different types of interview questions. If there’s a particular type of interview question you struggle with, practice answering those questions more. 

Don’t hesitate to admit if you are struggling with a particular question. The interviewer will be interested in seeing how you handle the situation. Don’t panic; explain that you need a few moments to reflect, then respond with a well thought out answer.


Don’t forget to check out our other posts on ‘How to discover your career path’ and ‘How to build a career plan’

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