You landed the much-awaited interview and things are going really well till the interviewer hits you with a tough interview question also known as curveball question.
Curveball questions are strategically placed in an interview to put you off-balance and catch you off-guard. These types of questions also test your thought-process and creativity under high pressure situation of an interview. These questions can be tough to answer if you hear them for the first time during the interview. You don’t want to sound too rehearsed while answering these questions, and yet you need to be convincing enough to satisfy the hiring manager. You don’t need to fear these tough interview questions as with right amount of practice and structured framework you can answer them with much confidence.
In this post we take a look at the 5-step process through which you can honestly handle tough interview questions. So, let’s get started!
How to handle tough interview questions like a pro:
1. Dig deeper than surface and take time
The interviewer may ask, “What is the one thing our company doesn’t do well as the competition”. If your natural reaction to this is “Umm”, then you should definitely do your homework before the interview. Even if you know the answer you need to maintain your balance. This question has a two-sided edge to it as you don’t want to be overly critical yet you need to point out a flaw.
The key to answering this question lies in preparation. Ideally, you should research about the company before the interview to gather information about the financial performance, products, services, and major happenings.
While answering a tricky question, its best to take your time and say, “While doing my research, I found that competitor XYZ has an aggressive marketing strategy. I could even see their advertisements in today’s newspaper. I believe your company has a more cautious approach to marketing which worked well so far but could be a challenge in the future.”
When your answer question in such a way, you impress your interviewer with your research skills and your ability to monitor competition. This can be a tough question to answer if you haven’t done company analysis or industry analysis.
2. Walk through your thought process
Interviewers don’t always want exact answer to a tough interview question. Instead they want to have a glimpse at your thought process. So, answering “If you could be a tree, which one would you be?” with an oak instead of a pine tree won’t eliminate you from your interview process.
Instead if you say “I believe I am strong and dependable, just like an oak tree that makes people feel safe around it”, you can certainly impress your interviewer.
Even if you don’t know anything specific about trees, flowers or animals, you can say “I would be the one that is most dependable and loyal to the organisation” and think of a name later. Sharing your thought process with the interviewer is important.
3. Show your ability to think on your feet
Most candidates prepare to talk about the high points in their career, but very few have stories about time when things didn’t go their way. These are the things that are not usually on your resume and interviewer wants to see how you coped with partial success or complete failure.
The interviewer may ask, “Tell me about a time when things didn’t go as planned.”
You should think about the time when you were in a tough spot and could still manage to come out victorious.
You could say, “I went to client for a presentation for one of our company’s products. During the presentation, the projector stopped functioning correctly. The technical team could not address the issue as well. However, I had brought around 5 handouts of the slides for the meeting and got the remaining printed at the client office. This way we could continue even in the absence of the projector.” The above example demonstrates how you could anticipate challenges and think on your feet even in tough times.
4. Simplify the process
“How would you explain something to a five-year-old?” This is an all-time favorite curve-ball question when the interviewer wants to check your ability to break down complexity in to manageable pieces of simplicity. If you are applying for a tech role in AI, the interviewer may ask you to “Explain Artificial Intelligence (AI) to a five-year old”. If you are applying for marketing role then “Explain Marketing to a five -year old” may be asked.
The key is to use words that five-year old kids speak and understand in order explain the process. If you are prone to using jargon to converse then you’d find this question difficult to answer. Think like a total beginner, remove the complex details and focus on the purpose in an simplified way.
5. Take it easy while you handle tough interview questions
The fundamental art of answering a curve ball question is to identify one when it’s being asked and taking it easy. Candidates who don’t practice beforehand always get nervous with such questions during the interview. Its always advisable to go through mock interview with a professional before your actual interview.
Don’t just blurt the first thing that comes to your mind upon hearing such questions. Instead, focus on the process through which you arrived at your answer. If you are lucky you may never encounter such questions in the interview. However, it’s always better to practice and not rely on luck when it comes to the interviews.
Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect. StepVue offer’s personalized Mock Interview Service, Company Analysis Service, Industry Analysis Service and Flexi Interview Packages that help you prepare for your next job interview and gives you the confidence to ace it. Have a look at our Graduate Student Services and Young Professional Services and our Interview Packages for complete interview preparation.
Good luck with your job search!