Tricky Interview Questions And How To Handle Them
February 26, 2020
It takes a lot of effort, dedication and time to pass through the initial steps of the screening process, and bag an interview. So, of course, the last thing you’d want is to mess it all up because of a question you were not expecting at the interview.
“Tell us something about yourself.” It is the most common interview icebreaker question, and yet it has lived through the test of time. This highly open-ended and ambiguous question isn’t going anywhere, so you better brace yourself for it during your interviews for internships, work placements and graduate roles. Even the best of us are flummoxed to find the best response to this question? But why? The best response, logically, is to summarize your professional journey in a lively, chatty and factual way. But it is also important to read the room, study the vibe and adjust your demeanour in tandem with what the panel seems to elicit.
Forewarned is forearmed!
The first category of tricky questions is where the interviewer’s intention is to ask something innocuous to test how dedicated you are to the job. As a college graduate, you have to show extreme keenness and alacrity to prioritise your job at all times. However, it is also important that you balance work and play. No employer wants overworked and exhausted, and thereby unproductive employees. Be honest, but don’t go on blurting that you’re applying for a role in the finance department because it pays well. That cannot be the only motivation. Strike that perfect balance. When an employer asks about the future, make sure you talk about career progression in the same sector. WHen the employer hints at the past, make sure you highlight the achievements and treat everything else as a lesson instead of a mistake.
These questions include:
• Do you check emails during vacations? Would you be willing to take client calls on weekends?
• What’s your biggest weakness? What could be one reason I wouldn’t/shouldn’t hire you?
• How do you handle stress?
• What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Another category of bizarre questions is those hypothetical questions which make little sense, except maybe in dystopia.
• What stationery product can you not live without?
• If you could only save one thing in this room right now, what would it be?
• What kitchen appliance would you be and why?
And then there is this bunch of factual, objective questions that are so impossible to know that you cannot imagine them serving any purpose but to flummox you and test how calm you can stay under pressure:
• Estimate the total number of cars in the UK.
• How do you fit a giraffe in a fridge?
• How many hours would it take to clean every single window in London?
• You have six zeros, do any math on it and make it 120.
Be prepared for all eventualities: no one’s saying it is possible to guess how whimsical your potential interviewer is going to be, but you can always practice tricky interview questions with a handful of examples. Work your way as a storyteller.
Share your story. It’s what makes the response interesting. Like I mentioned before, there are no right or wrong answers, only the charming or awful ones. The employer is actually trying to assess how your mind works under non-linear and tricky circumstances. They are more interested in your deductive and thinking process.
Be witty. Play with words. Insert anecdotes. Have travel tales ready. Time your humour. And all of this is possible if you’re not caught unawares and if you practice.
Drop those lame puns and dad jokes while you’re at it!