The toughest job interview questions revealed

Difficult job interview questions

When you go for a job interview, the chances are that you spend hours preparing for all the questions you are expecting. When the interviewer asks about your biggest weakness, or what your previous boss would say about you, you've have practiced the perfect answer. However, a new study has revealed there are some new, fiendish questions doing the rounds.

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The study, by Glassdoor, asked users to reveal the hardest questions they had been asked - or that they asked candidates - and it has produced a list of 20 real stinkers.

1. What's the closest thing on your CV to a lie?
2. What am I thinking right now?
3. How would your enemy describe you?
4. If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned you £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?
5. What's the most selfish thing you've ever done?
6. You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance.
7. If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?
8. Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.
9. How do you cope with repetition?
10. How would you describe cloud computing to a 7 year old?
11. There are three people, each with different salaries, and they want to find the average of them without telling any of the other two their salary. How do they do it?
12. Who is your hero, and why?
13. What's your the biggest regret managing people so far?
14. What would you ask the CEO if you met him one day?
15. You have 50 red and 50 blue objects. Split these however you like between two containers to give the minimum/maximum probability of drawing one of the colours
16. What does social justice mean to you?
17. What is your coping mechanism when you have a bad day?
18. Are you a nice guy?
19. Provide an estimate for the number of goals in the Premier League.
20. Tell me about your childhood.

Some of these are clearly specific to a role. If you're not applying for a job in IT, for example, there's a good chance you are safe from the cloud computing question. However, there's a risk that you might be asked almost any of the others.

David Whitby, UK Country Manager at Glassdoor. "Preparing for an interview thoroughly means being ready for anything, even a curveball question not directly related to the job. Remember, it's not necessarily about getting the right answer, more how you cope under pressure."

How to answer

While it's impossible to prepare for every tricky question, there is a five step process that will help you answer anything they throw at you.

1. Don't panic
Don't fall over yourself to give an answer. If you need to say anything immediately, then say something along the lines of, "That's a great question. Let me have a second to think about it."

2. Think
Take your time to think about it. If you are asked about your biggest regret, for example, consider your most honest answer, and reason. Then consider how you can frame that answer to show you in the most positive light. You might, for example, explain how you didn't have the experience to deal with it at the time, but you have learned so much.

3. Think aloud if it's appropriate
Some of these questions, like the astronaut one and the one about Premiership goals, are designed to test your mental reasoning, so show them what you are doing. You could, for example, estimate the number of teams in the Premiership, calculate roughly how many matches there are, estimate the number of goals in an average match, and come to a conclusion. They won't mind if you're wildly out, as long as you used logical reasoning to get to a figure.

4. Don't lie
You don't have to be bluntly honest, but don't lie either. Not only is it a morally dubious idea, but you'll struggle to keep it up. If, for example, you're asked how you deal with repetition and you hate it, don't try to pretend you love it, turn it into a positive. You can, for example, say that rather than repeating things over and over again, you prefer to improve on them.

5. Don't try too hard to please
If, for example, you are asked to describe what is closest to a lie on your CV, and you have been scrupulously honest, then say so. You may feel pressured into inventing something, but you don't need to. You can explain that you don't want to pretend you're perfect, but you don't believe it's worth trying to exaggerate your experience as you will only be found out.

The interviewer isn't looking for a perfect answer to any of these questions. They want to see you think on your feet, be honest (in a positive way), and approach things carefully and logically. If you do that, they really don't care what your answer is.

Of course, if you were to reveal your hero is Donald Trump or Simon Cowell, it may affect how the rest of the interview goes.

Britain's most dangerous jobs
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Britain's most dangerous jobs

By far the most dangerous job across most of the world is fishing. Apparently 103 in every 100,000 fishermen will die at sea - most of them by drowning, and according to Oxford University, those who work at sea are an incredible 50 times more likely to die at work than anyone else.

How well they are rewarded for risking their lives depends on where they fit in the pecking order. At the very top, with your own boat and crew, in a good year, you could bring home more than £100,000. At the bottom of the heap as a trainee deckhand you would be lucky to get more than £10,000 a year.

In the army, these experts have the nickname Felix - because they need every one of the nine lives. We all make mistakes at work and in this role mistakes will kill or maim you. 

In return for taking up such a dangerous role, you'll be paid £32,000 a year, which is made to look even more paltry by the fact that many of these experts end up drawing a disability pension before very long.

The risks of working with highly volatile and explosive materials in impossibly difficult natural environments is bad enough. Add in the risks of working in politically charged environments where you may well be a target for terrorists, and you can see why this is a dangerous job. In fact it has a fatality rate of around 32 per 100,000, and around 100 people a year die in the industry- around twice the average for all UK workers.

This risk, however, is reasonably rewarded - partly because of the fact it can be hard to attract workers to the places where oil and gas needs to be extracted. It's not uncommon for those with experience to be making £75,000 a year.

Put people up high, give them something heavy and awkward to carry, then get them to do it in the rain. It's not surprising this is a dangerous job. What is perhaps surprising is that over the past five years 30% of all work-related deaths in the UK have been in this industry. The riskiest construction jobs are those where heights are part of the every-day business of work - with scaffolders, steeplejacks ad roofers facing the most danger at work.

The pay starts around £20,000 for skilled workers, rising to around £50,000 for site managers.

Around 54,000 road accidents involving professional drivers take place on British roads every year - which is around 250 a day. Meanwhile, one in four of all road deaths involve a driver who is at work at the time. Despite stringent rules about how long they are allowed to drive for, and in-cab telematics to make sure they don't bend the rules, tiredness is the main cause. 

In return for the danger, plus the long hours and the anti-social lifestyle, these workers can expect to earn around £25,000 a year.

The risks are perhaps unsurprising, given that drowning accounts for the majority of fatalities. However there are also problems from high gas consumption and mental health problems, often due to having to spend inordinate times decompressing in a confined space with another individual.

However, given the risks, the inhospitable locations and the skills required, the role can earn you £100,000 a year or more.

These are often ex-military personnel employed to protect wealthy or powerful individuals. The role is unsurprisingly highly dangerous, with the constant threat of terrorist attacks, enemy fire or booby traps.

There really is danger money associated with this job, which is another role than can earn the right individual 6 figures a year.

Around 15 police officers lose their lives at work every year. However, surprisingly, the biggest risk is from involvement in a road accident, which causes 70% of the deaths. Around half of these are officers getting to and from work. Meanwhile no more than one or two are killed by criminals in an average year. Fatalities, however, are only a small proportion of the massive number of injuries a policeman can pick up - with roughly one police officer injured every hour.

In return they can expect to earn around £40,000, rising to £55,000 for senior officers.

Again there aren't a huge number of deaths in the line of duty. However, every fire is potentially fatal, and every job carries the risk of injury. Injures are very common, although burns account for only 5% of them, the rest tend to be due to things like training and carrying equipment.

The pay has been subject to a number of arguments and even strikes but is currently around £30,000.

Perhaps it's surprising that this doesn't come higher up the list. Since 2001 over 350 have lost their lives fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The front line is clearly just about the most dangerous environment possible, and has to be up there with the place that most people would least like to work.

In return for putting their lives on the line in the service of their county, army personnel can expect to be paid £14,000 when they start out - rising to up to £100,000 for the most senior officers.

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