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Interview questions, whether we like it or not, can be tough to answer. It is usually the simplest of interview questions that can catch us out. Within this careers video and article we take a look at a number of sample questions and provide you with great tips on how to answer them.


During your interview you will undoubtedly be asked interview questions that are tough to anser. Here is an explanation of thre tough interview questions and how to answer them effectively.

Tough Interview Question 1 – Are you a risk taker?

A tricky question to answer but it all depends on the type of company or organisation you are applying to join. If the company is a well-established, steady organisation that has achieved its success over a long period of time, building a reliable name for itself, then it is wise to veer on the side of safety and state that you are not a great risk taker.

However, if the company of organisation has recently started up and is competing in a highly competitive industry then a level of risk taking may be commensurate to this role. If you do decide to say that you are a risk taker then it is a good idea to give examples of calculated risks that you have taken. Make certain that you emphasise that you would not take a risk unless you were positive of a successful outcome, and that you would never jeopardise the company. It is always best to seek advice from Senior Managers if unsure and this is something that you would always do unless you were certain of the outcome.

Sample response for a company/role that requires a level of risk-taking

“If the situation requires then I am not averse to taking risks. However, the risks that I do take are always carefully thought through and focused on achieving the goal. I would always look, wherever possible, to consult my manager before taking the risk. In a previous role I was required to take risks on a weekly basis. However, those risks were always carefully calculated and veered on the side of caution. With regards to Health and Safety matters I would never take any risks and I would certainly never breach confidentiality.”

Sample response for a company/role that does not require a level of risk-taking

“No I don’t take risks, especially when work is involved. I always follow company rules and procedures and if I’m ever unsure of something I will always seek clarification first from a line manager or senior member of the team. I’ve seen people take risks at work before, and they usually end up going wrong. In terms of Health and Safety, I would never take risks. I would hate to be part of a situation at work where a member of the team became injured because somebody was taking risks or shortcuts. If I witnessed somebody doing something that they shouldn’t be doing, then I would have to say something and inform my supervisory manager.”

Tough Interview Question 2 – What are you like at taking criticism from senior managers?

Regardless of how you think you would react, it is important to tell the interview panel that you look at this in a positive manner. Of course you do not want to portray an image that you are a pushover, but an answer along the following lines would be acceptable:

“Whilst working for my current employer, a situation arose where I was criticised for a mistake. At the time of the criticism I felt disappointed in my own performance, but knew it was important to learn from my mistake and improve for next time. I understand that not everybody is perfect and when we make mistakes it is the ability to move on and improve for next time that is important. I spoke with my line manager after the mistake was made, apologised and made certain I improved my performance in that particular area.”

The above type of response identifies that you have the ability to accept criticism but also that you are sensitive to it too. Nobody likes criticism of any kind but in this response you have shown that you did not get angry, defensive or arrogant but instead you turned a negative situation into a positive one.

Tough Interview Question 3 – How would you resolve a dispute with a work colleague?

Everybody has disputes with colleagues at some point in their career so it is not wise to say that you’ve never had one. You may get on with the majority of people most of the time but it is good to say that you had an issue with a colleague years ago and describe how it was resolved. You could state that you were the one who initiated the resolution by talking to the other person to try to clear the air. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate you have good communication skills and are prepared to listen to what others have to say.

Maybe you took the colleague’s comments onboard and agreed a way forward? It is a good idea to show that you are able to resolve issues with other colleagues without involving senior or line managers. However, if the dispute was in contravention to the company’s policies on bullying or harassment then you would feel it was important to report the incident to your line manager.

“The first thing I would do is try to arrange a meeting with them; somewhere out of the way of any distractions, and in private. I would ask them if we could both search for ways to resolve our differences, with a view to possibly becoming friends or at the very least amicable work colleagues. It is only natural that we cannot get along with everybody; however, whilst at work we should put our differences aside and work towards the company objectives. I would do all that was in my power to resolve any conflict and I would never allow it to deter from my professionalism.”

Now use the template on the following page to create your own answer to this question based on your own opinions and experiences. If you have already been in this type of situation before, explain how you resolved it.



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