Interviews are typically a combination of standard, unconventional, and difficult questions. The last two may catch you off guard, but they are there to test your problem-solving and communication skills. They include questions such as “What are your weaknesses,” which answering may feel like putting yourself down. However, such questions allow you to discuss genuine weaknesses and the steps you take to address them.

To help you think and frame your responses, here are common interview questions you should look out for and a guide to help you avoid getting tripped up by them.

Questions That Test Your Problem-Solving Skills

“If you could have a superpower, what would it be?”

“How many tennis balls could fit in this room?”

Interviewers don’t necessarily look for the correct answer when asking these questions. They look at how you approach the problem and your thought process when coming up with a solution. It requires clear communication skills, so take your time to frame your response.

Questions That Test Your Knowledge of the Company and Role

“What do you know about our company?”

“What do you think makes us different from our competition?”

Interviewers want to know if you’ve researched and understood the company culture. Your answers will show how serious you are about the role. They will likely follow up by asking how you would contribute to their company’s success. So, prepare thoughtful answers and explain how you’re the best fit for the role.

Questions That Challenge Your Confidence and Resilience

“Tell me about a time you failed.”

“Describe a recent stressful situation that you overcame.”

Interviewers ask these questions to assess your ability to handle situations, not to trip you up. It’s your chance to show resilience in handling the challenges that came and will come your way. Be honest and open up; be positive and demonstrate your ability to learn from mistakes. Tell how your experiences have made you become a better professional.

Tips for Answering Difficult Interview Questions

Stay calm and composed. Take a few seconds to think before answering. Make sure your response is clear and concise. Also, be aware of your body language. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and smile.

Be honest and open up. Politely ask if you need more time to think. Don’t be afraid to admit you find the questions difficult, but you will still answer them. It shows your confidence and willingness to learn.

Be prepared. Do extensive research about the company and the role you’re applying for. Knowing what to expect will give you confidence and accuracy in your answer. You can even practice your answers to potential questions. This way, you identify areas of improvement. And make sure you prepare a few questions for the interviewer.

Ask clarifying questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something or need more information from them. Asking will demonstrate your genuine interest in the company and your role. Keep in mind that interviews are a two-way process.

Also, dress professionally, whether it’s an onsite or remote interview. Please be on time. Your work ethic must be innate.

It’s easy to get tripped on common job interview questions if you’re unprepared. They can come off as intimidating and challenging. But if you put honest efforts into preparing for the interview, it will demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the job. You’ll be ready to impress any employer and succeed in any job interview.

For more tips on preparing for an interview, visit our website at or connect with our President, Dan Simmons, on LinkedIn. Looking for a new job in the animal sciences? Visit our job postings here.