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How To Answer The Hardest Job Interview Questions

Updated on September 29, 2011

Apply for enough jobs and you will come across one hiring manager that wants to make you squirm in your chair, asking you questions that have nothing to do with the job or the amazing resume you submitted.

As the sweat starts to pour off your forehead and you stumble for ways to answer the question, you finally give up and answer, “I don’t know.”

Although these job interview questions are rare, a little preparation in following these steps will help you ace the interview.

1. Don’t Panic
The question may seem foreign and figuring out the answer may baffle you, but most interviewers don’t expect you to give a correct response. The hardest interview questions are designed to see how you react.

Interviewers ask these types of question to determine:

  • Your creativity in problem solving;
  • Your “street smarts” — straight As in college show your ability to study, memorize and learn, not necessarily your ability to solve complex problems;
  • If you buckle under pressure.

It is more important that you show the company how you arrive at the answer rather then answering correctly. Take a deep breath, calm down and start talking.

Don't hide from hard interview questions. Photo by bizior.
Don't hide from hard interview questions. Photo by bizior.

2. Be Assertive And Think Out-Loud
After you calm down, be sure to talk through your answer. Remember that the interviewer is gauging how you handle pressure and deal with complex problems. Blurting out a final answer to such job interview questions does not show you can think on your feet. Let the interviewer hear your thought process.

3. Break Down The Questions Into Steps
The hardest job interview questions are usually quite simple to answer. The problem is that such questions are not familiar to us.

If you can break the interview question down into a few steps the answer will be easier to answer.

4. Never Say “I Don’t Know”
Saying those three little words are the worst answer you can possibly give. It shows that you cannot handle the pressure and do not have the ability to solve problems in as an employee of the company.

An answer that is completely wrong is much better than giving up.

Example Hard Job Interview Questions And How To Answer

Q. You have nine balls and one is lighter than the others. How do you find the lightest ball in two attempts?

This can be easily solved if you break down the steps to finding the answer. The first step is to divide the balls into sets of three and weigh each set. You will then know which set has the lightest ball. The second step is to weigh two of the three balls in the lightest set. If one weighs less than the other, you have found your ball. If they are equal, the ball you did not weigh is the lightest.

Q. If you could be one animal, what animal would you be?

The general staples to this question are strong animals, such as a tiger or lion. Whatever animal you choose, be sure to relate its qualities to the job. For a creative answer that may be less intimidating, use a beaver as your example. The beaver constantly works hard, solves complex problems to build dams in strategic locations and does not have many natural enemies in the wild. They also have a playful side that lets them relax during their free time.

Q. Why didn’t you have a 4.0 GPA in college?

Pick a subject you studied in college that relates most to the skills you will use on the job. For this example, it will be English. Then select a subject completely unrelated to the job. For this example, it will be Science. Your response should be “I was really interested and concentrated on my English classes. I can’t say the same for my Science classes.”

Q. If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and dropped in a blender, how would you get out?

Show the interviewer that have multiple plans ready to solve the problem.

  • Plan A: Yell at the top of your lungs to draw attention from any “normal sized” humans around.
  • Plan B: If the blender is not set in its base, run from one side of the glass to the other, trying to knock it over and escape.
  • Plan C: Since the blades sit above the bottom of the glass, try to jump from the blades to grab on to the rim of the blender and pull your body out.
  • Plan D: Stand on the blades and wait for the blender to be turned on. Hopefully your body will be flung into the air and out of the blender, just like liquids escape without a lid.

Answers to some easier interview questions


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