The toughest job interview questions revealed

The 20 fiendish interview questions you won’t have prepared for - and how to answer them

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.


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