Tricky interview questions – expect the unexpected!

How do you get an elephant in a fridge? If you were interviewing for a new job, is this the sort of interview question you would expect to get? How would you answer it? Believe it or not this is actually a real interview question put to an unsuspecting candidate for an IT job in the UK.

An article on HR Online brought our attention to a report by Glassdoor about the Top 10 Toughest Interview Questions for 2016. All 10 of these questions are designed to catch candidates off-guard and see how they react when something unexpected comes their way. The idea is that anyone can answer a question such as “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, so, in order to see how one candidate stands out from another, some companies choose to take a slightly different route.

Since these questions are often unrelated to the role for which the candidate is applying, and are often somewhat wacky, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer – it’s more a case of seeing how the candidate goes about in trying to think of an answer.

Job Applicants Waiting

The Top 10 Toughest Interview Questions as reported by Glassdoor are:

  1. “Which magic power would you like to have?”
  2. “If you were a fruit, what kind would you be and why?”
  3. “If you could have dinner with three actors that are no longer living, who would you pick?”
  4. “How many hours would it take to clean every single window in London?”
  5. “How do you get an elephant in a fridge?”
  6. “If the time is quarter past 3, what is the angle measurement on the clock?”
  7. “If you had three minutes alone in a lift with the CEO, what would you say?”
  8. “How many people born in 2013 were named Gary?”
  9. “What will you be famous for?”
  10. “How many nappies are purchased per year in the UK?”

The reason that Glassdoor puts together this annual report is because they feel that candidates should be prepared to answer any question that is thrown at them, not just the obvious ones. Interview questions are getting tougher and tougher, as employers are looking to differentiate candidates and test their critical thinking and problem solving skills. Therefore, candidates should expect the unexpected and have an idea of what their response would be in similar situations.

According to Glassdoor, there is also a statistical link between tough interview questions and greater employee satisfaction later on, so these sorts of questions are in the candidate’s best interest too!

I was recently having a conversation with friends here in Hong Kong about interview questions, and one friend mentioned one question they always use on candidates that immediately tells them what sort of person that candidate is and if they’ll do well at the firm. The question is: “What is 7 divided by 15?” Some people who can’t think outside the box simply don’t understand the question and ask for it to be repeated; others who are more mathematically savvy might actually give the correct response to three decimal places (0.466 if you’re curious); whilst others might think of a witty response that will immediately make them stand out, in a good way.

The key, when preparing for an upcoming interview, is of course to be prepared for all the usual questions about your experience and goals that you know to expect, but also to be prepared to be a little bit flexible so that if a question such as one of the above does come your way, you don’t sit there staring at the interviewer with a look of utter fear on your face. Just as a wild animal can sense fear before you know you’ve displayed it, so too can an interviewer!

If you’re looking for interview tips or any career advice to see how you can reach your potential, get in touch now!