Interview questions come in many varieties. Some are open-ended to exhibit problem-solving skills, while others are about specific things in a candidate’s resume. Some, however, are just plain difficult questions to answer. We call these, “hot seat questions.”

Hot seat questions are designed to exhibit a candidate’s ability to perform gracefully under pressure. Some are certainly about important things the interviewer wants to know, but as with all interview questions, the manner in which a candidate responds is equally -- if not more -- important than the actual content of the answer.

This means that preparing for hot seat questions will give you an advantage going into your next interview. Here are some examples to help you through the process.

Pure Pressure Hot Seat Questions

These questions are all about how you handle being put on the spot. They’re not necessarily relevant to your skills and experience, but they’re meant to catch you off guard. Be ready for hot seat questions like:

  • If you could change one moment in your life, what would it be and why?
  • Are you willing to fail?
  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • Do you think you’re lucky?
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • What is a false assumption I may have about you?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • Defend an unpopular opinion of yours.

Professional Hot Seat Questions

These are a bit more relevant to the job you’re interviewing for, so that adds another layer of pressure to your answer. Be thoughtful about how you respond and take a breath if needed. These include:

  • What did you dislike about your last job?
  • Why have you been out of work?
  • What is the biggest mistake you’ve made on the job? What did you learn?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • How much should you be paid?
  • If I gave you an unlimited budget for a project, what would you do and how would you measure success?
  • How many hours a week do you actually work?
  • Money aside, what element of work gives you satisfaction?

Your actual answers to hot seat questions will be unique to you, but there is a right way to approach them. Always be professional and diplomatic. If you’re asked to speak negatively about something, do it tactfully and with respect. Have reasons to back your opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Show emotions but monitor them and keep them in check. Above all, be authentic and confident.

If you’re looking for more tips and insights, please browse our advice section. If you’d like help in your job search, please reach out to our team.