You’ve got your favourite interview outfit dry-cleaned, you’ve put in the hours researching the company and scoured the web for insights on its culture.
The first couple of questions have been batted away, handled with aplomb.
Then the steely-eyed third member of the interview panel asks that left-field question that leaves you stumped, mumbling and sweating, grasping for an answer that won’t totally blow your chances.
And the odds are most job-hunters have beat themselves up within minutes of closing the interview room door for giving a limp response.
Jobs portal Glassdoor has scoured hundreds of thousands of interview questions to produce a list of 20 of the toughest candidates have faced at companies such as Microsoft, Tesla and British Airways.
Examples include “What am I thinking right now?”, and “How would you describe cloud computing to a 7 year old?”, as well as “What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?”.
“Preparing for an interview thoroughly means being ready for anything, even a curveball question not directly related to the job,” said David Whitby, UK Country Manager at Glassdoor. “Remember, it’s not necessarily about getting the right answer, more how you cope under pressure.”
The top 20 toughest questions – how would you answer them?
- “What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?” – Marketing and communications employee, The Phoenix Partnership
- “What am I thinking right now?” – Regional director, TES Global
- “How would your enemy describe you?” – Advertising sales graduate scheme, Condé Nast
- “If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned you £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?” – Associate recruitment consultant, Hays plc
- “What’s the most selfish thing you’ve ever done?” – Graduate consultant, PageGroup
- “You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance.” – Sales employee, Turnstone Sales
- “If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?” – CCP, American Express
- “Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.” – Forward deployed software engineer, Palantir Technologies
- “How do you cope with repetition?” – Product specialist, Tesla Motors
- “How would you describe cloud computing to a 7 year old?” – Graduate scheme, Microsoft
- “There are three people, each with different salaries, and they want to find the average of them without telling any of the other two their salary. How do they do it?” – Technical delivery graduate, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
- “Who is your hero, and why?” – Product quality employee, GE
- “What’s your the biggest regret managing people so far?” – Area director, Regus
- “What would you ask the CEO if you met him one day?” – Performance analyst, British Airways
- “You have 50 red and 50 blue objects. Split these however you like between two containers to give the minimum/maximum probability of drawing one of the colours.” – Operations analyst, Clearwater Analytics
- “What does social justice mean to you?” – Content marketing manager, ThoughtWorks
- “What is your coping mechanism when you have a bad day?” – Consultant, Switch Consulting
- “Are you a nice guy?” – Product manager, Badoo
- “Provide an estimate for the number of goals in the premier league.” – Management accountant, VAX
- “Tell me about your childhood.” – Learning and development employee, Next