How to prepare for tricky interview questions

It’s all very well to know what to do, and what to avoid, in a job interview. But we all know the hardest part isn’t looking or sounding the part. The difficulty comes with all those tricky questions the interviewers throw at you.

Of course, preparation will help ease pre-interview nerves, but what kind of questions can you expect to be asked? Read our guide and practice answering the different types of questions. While it’s impossible to prepare for every situation, there are some common interview questions that you can anticipate.

Question types

Essentially, there are three main types of questions that you will be asked in an interview to assess what kind of person you are and how you would operate in the workplace. The three question types are comprised of classic questions, brainteasers, and behavioral questions.

Classic Questions

These are classic “getting to know you” questions, they allow you to share your story and create an impression on the interviewer. Classic questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you know about the company?
  • What are your goals?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • Why should we hire you over any other candidates?

Brainteaser Questions

These types of questions are specific to the role that you are applying for and test what you know. A lot of the time they are more technical questions for very technical or analytical jobs that come across as seemingly random and unrelated. They are used to assess your skills, such as logic, math, critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to perform under pressure to determine how you think or how you problem solve. Often, it is not always a specific answer the interviewer is looking for but how the answer is reached. Some examples of brainteaser questions are:

  • Solving mathematical equations: “It takes Builder A 20 minutes to build a house and builder B 30 minutes to build a house, how long does it take if they work together?”
  • Solve this mystery question: “A windowless room has three light bulbs. You are outside the room with three switches, each controlling one of the light bulbs. If you can only enter the room one time, how can you determine which switch controls which light bulb?”
  • Explain a concept: “How would you explain the internet to someone coming out of a 30-year coma.”

However, keep in mind that not all interviewers ask these types of questions. So although it is important to know you might be asked one of these but don’t worry too much, depending on the type of role you are applying for you may not encounter them at all.

Behavioral Questions

So interviewers can get a better grasp of your personality, and what previous experiences you have had in life or in the workplace, they may ask you a series of behavioral based questions. These types of questions directly relate to the position and the answers that they are looking for are concrete examples of your skills. Some examples of behavioral questions are:

  • Give me an example of what you would do if…
  • Tell me about a time when…
  • How do you handle challenges?
  • Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you rectify it?
  • Give an example how you effectively worked in a team.
  • How do you handle stress?

For these types of questions, you could apply the CAR method as talked about on our previous blog as a framework when talking about yourself and your experiences.

Prepare your own questions

Interviews are just as much about you sizing up the company as they are about sizing up you. Come prepared with some questions to ask the employer. Common questions could be:

  • What is the work culture like here?
  • Who will I be reporting to?
  • What kind of induction and training will I receive?
  • What is the next step from here?

If you have properly prepared and researched the company, you could also tailor your questions to be relevant to the company and the position you are applying for.

As mentioned earlier, it is difficult to determine exactly what will be asked. Understanding and preparing for what may be asked will help put you at ease and help the interview run smoothly. If you are especially nervous, try practicing your answers using CAR in front of a mirror or with a friend.

Do you have any other great preparation tips for interview questions? Join the conversation at Career Spotlight with CCI Training.