We’ve all been there: One minute, you’re absolutely killing it with your job interview questions. The next, you’ve been left stumped by a query straight out of left field.
Learning how to handle these obscure curveballs can be the difference between you or a competitor getting the gig. It’s a tough industry out there, and you can never be too prepared for an interview that could change the entire course of your career.
Career Coach Hallie Crawford recently spoke with recruitment website Glassdoor and shared a list of the ten toughest job interview questions currently doing the rounds. We’ve compacted her feedback and produced a quick guide on how to ace those trickier lines of inquiry.
How to answer the toughest job interview questions:
“If your current employer had an anniversary party for you, what five words would be written on the cake to describe you?”
How to answer: Don’t go over the top on this one. If you choose long adjectives, you might come across as a little over-confident. Instead, think of things co-workers and management have said about you recently – they’re the ones who are most familiar with your personality as an employee.
“Who in history would you want to go to dinner with and why?”
How to answer: Think about people who have mastered a technical craft and familiarise yourself with a particular actor, writer or scientist. Be prepared to talk about what you’d like to discuss, and why you admire them.
“Would you be able to name a brand that represents you as a person?”
How to answer: Here, you’ve got to distinguish between a brand you like and a brand that fits your persona. So if you’re a family-orientated, you might want to talk about companies that are family-owned and pride themselves on running their business with multiple generations of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
“Can you describe an instance where you had to make a decision without all of the necessary information?”
How to answer: Think positively. There must have been something you’ve achieved at work by going through things methodically and coming to the best decision you could, despite some information being missing. If you’ve ever bailed a colleague out for one of their mistakes, that could also come in handy.
“Can you sell me on one idea, and then sell me on the opposite of that idea?”
How to answer: Okay, now we’re getting technical. This is where candidates are advised to ask their interviewer for an example of a scenario. If they don’t play ball, recall something from a previous job where there was debate over different ways of doing something. Think about how you’d compromise in that situation.
“If a co-worker had an annoying habit, and it hindered your quality of work, how would you resolve it?”
How to answer: “Smacking them” wouldn’t get you very far. Instead, you’re encouraged to say that you’d think about steps towards a resolution before confronting them about it. Interviewers want to hear how you’d plan ahead in this circumstance.
“What part of the newspaper do you read first? What does this say about you?”
How to answer: Think about the company you’ve applied for. Are they sporty, or tech-based, or perhaps even in the political sphere? Tailor your answer for your audience. You can play fast and loose with this too, and link preference to personality – you could talk about a love of technology if you’re a “keen learner”.
“Throw your resume aside and tell me what makes you who you are?
How to answer: Yep, the “tell me a bit about yourself” part. Make sure you have prepared something about what makes you different to everyone else, or even an anecdote about getting into your chosen industry. Failing that, it’s always positive to talk about three values that you hold most dear.
“What’s wrong with your past or current employer?”
How to answer: You must not bash the company you work for, no matter what the situation is. Make the focus all about you instead. Talk about a need for a new, more challenging line of work and even ask what opportunities there are to grow at the company.
“Tell me about the worst manager you ever had?
How to answer: For the last of the tricky job interview questions, we remind you these aren’t therapy sessions. Go easy on whoever your boss from hell was, as you never know what executives operate in which circles. It’s advised you talk about management styles you didn’t enjoy, rather than personalities.
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