POSTED ON

22 Mar 2018

"How much would it cost to clean all the windows in LA?"

After tech companies like Google brought questions like these to the mainstream, they have become the stuff of job-hunting lore. Today, to become more competitive, an increasing number of companies employ tricky questions to gauge a candidate's way of thinking. And if you must know the answers the question above, there is really no correct answer, because the interviewer is only testing if you can think outside the box. But if you must have an answer, you can charge by the window. With that in mind, here are of the trickiest job interview questions you may face, and how to answer them.

Q: What would you do if you didn't have to work?

Any answer that doesn't involve sleeping or being lazy will do. The point of this question is to know the interests, hobbies, and passions that you enjoy doing outside of work.

Q: How would you evacuate an entire city?

This question is all about how you would confront a problem, so instead of detailing an evacuation plan outright, start by asking the interviewer about the type of massive disaster that he or she has in mind, and then proceed from there.

Q: How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

The way to answer this question is to dictate the bus's dimensions by assuming its length, width, and height in terms of golf balls. Assuming that the bus is 200 golf balls long, 50 balls high, and 50 wide (200x50x50), then you get 500,000 balls.

Q: How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?

Here's another question where you can apply assumptions and say, it depends on the demand for their services. You can start by assuming how often pianos need to be tuned. Let's say pianos need to be tuned once a week, and that the work takes one hour to complete. So, if a piano tuner works 8 hours a day for five days, then he can tune a total of 40 pianos each week. It is then safe to deduce that there's one piano tuner for every 40 pianos in a given area.

Q: If you were the CEO of your previous company, what would you have done differently?

When answering this question, you have to be careful not to sound like you think ill of your previous employer. The goal of this question is to see how well you can see the big picture and take an objective approach with the issues and challenges you have observed at your former company, and what strategies would you have used to minimize if not eliminate their negative impact.

Q: You want to confirm that your friend John hasn't erased your number from his phone book, but you can't ask him directly. What do you do?

Ask him to call you at a specific time. If he doesn't, then he no longer has your number.

Q: How many quarters would it take to reach the top of the Empire State Building?

A variation of the 'golf ball' question, so again, you have to set the parameters by assuming both the thickness of the quarter and the height of the Empire State Building-unless the interviewer can give you accurate measurements for each. Otherwise, you can say that if a quarter is about a one-tenth of an inch thick, and the Empire State is about 1,000 tall, and that there are about 120 quarters in a foot, then you will need 120,000 quarters stacked on top of each other to match the length of the famed New York City building.

Q: If you were a commodity, why should I buy you?

This one isn't really a trick question as much as it is a veiled one. What the interviewer is really asking is, "Why should we hire you?" To close the deal and land the job, you must be ready with a short list of reasons why they should choose you. Whatever your answer, you need to convince the interviewer of three things: That you will be a productive member of the team, that you will deliver exceptional work, and that you possess skill sets and experiences that make you a valuable hire.

Q: How lucky are you, and why?

This question is designed to assess if you are appreciative of what you have. If you're reading this, that means you are alive and in reasonably good health. You can read, you are educated, and best of all, you are able to look forward to a bright future. Regardless if you think that you are moderately or extremely lucky, the important thing is to show genuine appreciation for where you are in life.

Tips to Keep in Mind

On the surface, these questions may appear utterly unrelated to the job you're applying for. The key here is to understand that companies use these questions to evaluate your thought process and reaction. So, before you head off to that job interview, here are five tips to keep in mind when answering tricky questions.

  • Never question the value of the inquiry. If you start asking what the question has to do with the job, then you may as well kiss your chances goodbye.
  • Never give an "I don't know" answer. This response will make the interviewer think that you are lazy and unimaginative.
  • It's perfectly fine to ask for a moment to collect your thoughts. Just make sure not to take too long.
  • Consider why the question was chosen. If you can't think of a logical solution to a problem, try answering in jest, as the interviewer could be trying to assess if you have a sense of humor.
  • Don't let any question stress you out. Remember that part of the reason tricky questions get asked during job interviews is to see your reaction. How you react during the process is as important as giving your well-thought-out answer.

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