How To Handle Tough Interview Questions

What’s the one piece of advice given over and over to interviewees? Prepare. Research the company, research the role, take time to analyze what’s going to be required of you, and take time to assess your own abilities. That’s the advice that Direct Line Group Careers gives to its applicants on their insurance jobs site. So, what do you do when you take this sound advice, but mid-way though a promising interview situation you’re thrown a question that you couldn’t possibly have prepared for? Tough Interview questions are becoming more popular for interviewers to gauge how adept a candidate is at thinking on their feet. Without their prepared answers to fall back on, how an interviewee reacts to a question which seems utterly random can be revealing. The good news? If you’re applying for a role that you have a lot of passion for, in an area where you’re naturally talented or well practiced in without necessarily having direct working experience, these questions are a great way to show off your abilities. The bad news? There’s not much you can do to practice for a question that’s deliberately obscure. But that’s not to say it’s completely impossible - After all, the purpose of any interview is to see how good a fit you are for the role and the company. So, however wacky the question is, the recruiter will probably be hoping for you to consider the context in which it’s being asked when it comes to your answer. That means if you’ve researched the role you’re applying for and know what is going to be expected of you, the chances are you’ll have a good idea of the type of logic and thought process they’re looking for when you make your reply.


How To Handle Tough Interview Questions

Below are a few genuine questions that have been asked in interview situations; while none of them have a necessarily right or wrong response, they’ll often fit into fields of purpose. One way to prepare for completely curveball questions is to get used to looking for what the intention is behind the weirdness!

Questions:

  • “Name five uses of a stapler without staples"
  • “What do you think of garden gnomes?”
What they’re really asking: Are you creative? Can you see the bigger picture, or are you focused on the detail? Are you happy to improvise, and are you a good communicator?

Questions:

  • “Given 20 light bulbs (which break at a certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height at which the bulb breaks?”
  • "Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest three horses. In each race, only five horses can run at the same time. What is the minimum number of races required?"
What they’re really asking: Are you logical? Do you have a good knowledge of probability and equations? Can you figure out an effective method for solving problems and assess its viability?

Questions:

  • “How would you weigh an elephant?”
  • "If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”
What they’re really asking: How creative are you when it comes to problem solving? Have you got an eye for important details? How do you improvise under pressure?

And What Are All The Questions Are Really Asking?

They’re all challenges: challenges to normal interview structure, challenges to your ability to think on your feet and logical challenges which reveal your thought process. So most importantly, don’t see a curveball question as an attempt to trip you up: see it as an opportunity to show that you relish a challenge. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

When most people think of Nike, they think of shoes, retail stores, and, of course, athletes. That's all true, but there's more. Behind Nike's walls, you'll find the doers and thinkers who design, create, and innovate every day. There are also data scientists who discover and leverage athlete insights to create the future of sport.

You might be surprised to learn about the impact you can have in Data & Analytics at Nike versus at a major tech giant. Nike employees get to work on a wide array of challenges, so if you're obsessed with math, science, computers, and/or data, and you love sport, these stories may inspire you to work at Nike.

SHOW MORE Show less

Employee loyalty is something every company longs for. It's estimated employee turnover costs as much as 130-200% of an employee's salary. When a talented, knowledgeable, trained employee leaves, it's bad for business. And, when lots of them leave, it can be the kiss of death.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the interview situation one of our viewers, Remi submitted. He was in an interview and was asked the question: How many cows are there in Canada right now? - What a weird question but this is a technique that some hiring managers are using these days.

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Kevin submitted. He is a college student who's working a part time job to make ends meet. The manager/owner of the company has become a micro-manager who watches him work on camera and reads his company emails. A bit over the top wouldn't you say?

SHOW MORE Show less

All work and no play can create a tense and unwelcoming environment. Studies have shown that employers that offer additional perks have employees that are happier and more loyal to their place of employment. If you are looking for an employer that acknowledges how important it is to give its employees a place to de-stress and bond with their co-workers, check out these companies!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if you worked for an owner who micro-manages you my watching you work on camera and reading through your company emails.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less