We’ve all experienced that head-scratching moment where the person interviewing you for a new job throws a question at you that you weren’t expecting.
Weird, difficult, curveball questions like ‘what kind of condiment are you and why?’ can really catch you off guard and leave you speechless when you’re expecting to answer questions about your work history and skills.
And of course, that’s exactly why interviewers ask them. They want to cut through your pre-rehearsed answers and really put you on the spot to see how you cope. They want to give you a challenge and ask you a tough question to get a better idea of who you are.
It’s how you respond to these kinds of questions that can really make or break the interview. If you’re able to think on the spot, deal with it calmly, and come across composed, great. If you stand there and stutter, not so great.
You can’t prepare for every question, so you should always be prepared to ask calmly for them to come back to that question later and give yourself some thinking time. That being said, it’s even better if you can come up with a witty, intelligent answer on the spot that really blows the interviewer away.
The latter is much easier if you have prepared your answers in advance, which is why we’ve prepared this list of the 5 toughest interview questions and how to answer them.
1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness
This tricky interview question has become almost commonplace. It’s a go-to for many employers as it forces the applicant to go out of their comfort zone and stop trying to sell themselves.
It’s also one of the most difficult questions to answer as it’s fraught with complications. It’s forcing you to admit a weakness. What is your employer is looking for someone without that particular weakness?
Your best bet is to play it safe and say something that is really a strength disguised as a weakness. For example, here’s a great answer:
“I’m very conscientious and that sometimes means I put a bit too much pressure on myself and hold myself accountable to impossibly high standards. I’m working on this and trying to strike a better balance by focusing as much on what I’ve accomplished as what I could do better.”
See, this is really a strength. The weakness is that the applicant is too conscientious, but what employer doesn’t like an employee to be conscientious? Plus, if there were any reason to be concerned that this would impact performance, they’ve left a get-out by highlighting what they’re doing to address this weakness.
2. What do your friends like most about you?
This is a tough question because it’s so unexpected. In a job interview, the last thing you expect is to be asked about your life outside of the workplace. It’s also a great question as it shows how you are as a person as well as an employee. It shows how well you work with others and can be a great opportunity to show off personal qualities you might have thought weren’t worth mentioning.
The best way to answer this is to be honest. Don’t say something irrelevant in an attempt to score points like ‘they like that I’m great at UX design’, it seems disingenuous. Say something about yourself as a person.
Are you kind? Are you funny? Are you always there for a friend when they need you?
Also, be careful not to inadvertently let them know about something best kept to yourself. For example, ‘my friends think‘I’m fun at parties – I can drink 3 pints of beer in 60 seconds!’ probably isn’t a great answer.
3. What makes you unique?
Another tough question as you’ve probably never thought about it before. Well, now’s the time to start thinking. There’s no specific answer I can give you as what makes you unique totally depends on you.
However, some solid advice is to not say anything too irrelevant to the actual job itself. Anything you plan on saying makes you unique should go at least some way towards proving you’re right for the job.
Ultimately, this question warrants a lot of consideration, and while I don’t have time to go into any more detail here, this article does a great job of laying out exactly how to tackle it.