Do you remember the last tricky interview question you had thrown at you during a job interview? Chances are that it completely caught you off-guard. Recruiters use such curveballs during job interviews to test your responsiveness. They want to see how you respond when you’re caught off-guard because that’s likely to happen as a part of your job.
As a rule, it’s safe to assume that you can’t be prepared for what you cannot anticipate. Curveball questions are designed to take you by surprise, so don’t try rehearsing stereotypical answers to some pre-compiled list of “tricky interview questions you MUST prepare for!”
Instead, stay on top of your game by doing the eight things we will discuss in this article:
1. Carry Your WITfolio
We’re sure you know enough about job interviews to carry your portfolio along but don’t leave your WITfolio behind! One of the greatest marks of an impressionable person is their ability to find humour in even the most nerve-racking situations. Being witty in an interview could earn you those much-needed brownie points from your interviewer.
Initiating friendly and humourous banter with your interviewer leaves a lasting impression on the interviewer. It makes you stand out from most other applicants who tend to be very formal and stressed. As a matter of fact, being witty can help break the ice and make you feel more confident and comfortable, too.
So, the next time tricky interview questions are thrown at you, try getting witty with your response. Oftentimes, the best answers come to you when you’re in a stress-free and relaxed state of mind.
2. Listen Carefully
Nervousness is an expected part of a job interview. No matter how many times you’ve faced job interviews before, a bit of anxiousness is bound to be there. It makes you overthink everything, which is why you may try to fill in gaps of silence without really having something of value to say.
Worse yet, if you’re nervous, you may end up rambling, talking too fast, and cutting the recruiter off midway. If you don’t let the recruiter finish what they’re trying to say or ask, chances are that whatever you say will be unrelated and irrelevant. It may also be interpreted as a lack of knowledge in the particular subject. You need to be attentive and wait until the recruiter has finished their question.
This can help you respond appropriately and impressively to what’s being said.
3. Don’t know the answer? Don’t Panic!
A lot of the times, recruiters only throw tricky interview questions at you to assess how well you formulate your thoughts. So, the point is not whether you answer it correctly. If you’re unnerved, formulating good answers can be very challenging. In fact, the more you panic, the less sensible you’re likely to sound. By remaining calm and composed in the face of sudden curveballs, you give your mind the space to handle them tactfully.
4. Stay Calm and Focused
However qualified you may be, a wrong answer to any question can change the recruiter’s mind and they may reconsider your fit. Similarly, however good your answer may be, if you aren’t calm and composed, the interviewer may take note of your nervous tick rather than your answer itself. So, take a deep breath and stay focused. That should help you make a pretty good impression.
5. Engage and Ask Questions for Clarity
Sometimes, your answer could be a personal take on the matter and not the answer the recruiter was expecting. Since your answer provided a different opinion on the same question, it could be refreshing to the recruiter so long as it’s befitting the question. But on the other hand, if you’ve misunderstood the question, you might end up saying something completely unrelated to the question.
In such a case, the recruiter may be swift to spot the gap in communication and this will work against you. That’s why it is important to ensure that you’ve understood the question completely before answering. Feel free to ask a question or two to make sure you get exactly what you’re asked.
6. Take Time to Think
We’ve already established that staying calm and present helps to formulate better answers. While this is true, it’s slightly different from what we mean when we say, ‘take time to think’.
Being calm and present doesn’t mean you have to answer the question immediately after you’ve understood it. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell the recruiter if you need a moment to think about what you’d like to say. Doing this is much better than coming up with a spontaneous answer that’s weird and unrelated.
7Let Your Individuality Shine!
This is the last but most important one on the list. There is always a reason why an interviewer throws a curveball question. It isn’t a question they ask just for the sake of fun and interaction. If you’re asked something like, “if you could be an animal, what would you choose to be?” Or, “if tomorrow is your last day on earth, what would you do?” it’s possible that the interviewer is trying to understand your personality, and judging whether you’d be a good fit in the company. Take your time, but let your individuality stand out by being honest in your answer.
Recruiters have to scout through thousands of applications every day, and each company has its own recruiting process. In the light of that, interviews can sometimes be daunting and in some cases have tougher processes.
Knowing what skills your recruiter is looking for and understanding the nature of the sudden curveball thrown at you, can go a long way in acing that job interview. Staying objective under pressure will help your brain develop that much needed optimism, and help you focus your energy on positive thoughts. Take sufficient time to process every question, and you’ll be surprised at how the answers come to you.
If you’re preparing for job interviews, check out these 10 interview mistakes you should never make.
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