How to Prepare for Tricky Interview Questions

It's all very well to know what to do and what to avoid in a job interview. But we all know the hardest part isn't looking or sounding the part. The difficulty comes with all those tricky questions the interviewers throw at you.
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Of course, preparation will help ease pre-interview nerves, but what kind of questions can you expect to be asked? Read our guide and practice answering the different types of questions. While it’s impossible to prepare for every situation, there are some common interview questions that you can anticipate.

Question types

Essentially, there are three main types of questions that you will be asked in an interview to assess what kind of person you are and how you would operate in the workplace. The three question types are comprised of classic questions, brain teasers, and behavioral questions.

Classic Questions

These are classic “getting to know you” questions, they allow you to share your story and create an impression on the interviewer. Classic questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you know about the company?
  • What are your goals?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • Why should we hire you over any other candidates?

While these questions might seem like ones that you can answer off the cuff, that may not be the case. How often do you tell someone out loud what your goals are? How often do you describe yourself out loud? Rather than wing it, sit down in front of a mirror and answer these questions. You might not say the exact same thing in the interview (and you shouldn’t, then it will sound too rehearsed), but you’ll at least have a good outline and idea of how you want to answer.

Brain Teaser Questions

These types of questions are specific to the role that you are applying for and test what you know. A lot of the time they are more technical questions for very technical or analytical jobs that come across as seemingly random and unrelated.

They are used to assess your skills, such as logic, math, critical thinking, creativity, and the ability to perform under pressure to determine how you think or how you problem solve. Often, it is not always a specific answer the interviewer is looking for but how the answer is reached. Some examples of brain teaser questions are:

  • Solving mathematical equations: “It takes Builder A 20 minutes to build a house and builder B 30 minutes to build a house, how long does it take if they work together?”
  • Solve this mystery question: “A windowless room has three light bulbs. You are outside the room with three switches, each controlling one of the light bulbs. If you can only enter the room one time, how can you determine which switch controls which light bulb?”
  • Explain a concept: “How would you explain the internet to someone coming out of a 30-year coma.”

Remember, the best way to answer these questions is thoughtfully. Pause before your launch into your answer. Consider the question, maybe even repeat part of it back to them to show you are wanting to make sure you have comprehended the question fully. Then start answering what they asked you. Try not to look like you think the question is silly, even if it doesn’t have much to do with what you’re interviewing for. You never know what they might be trying to get at.

However, keep in mind that not all interviewers ask these types of questions. So although it is important to know you might be asked one of these but don’t worry too much, depending on the type of role you are applying for you may not encounter them at all.

Behavioral Questions

So interviewers can get a better grasp of your personality, and what previous experiences you have had in life or in the workplace, they may ask you a series of behavioral based questions. These types of questions directly relate to the position and the answers that they are looking for are concrete examples of your skills. Some examples of behavioral questions are:

  • Give me an example of what you would do if…
  • Tell me about a time when…
  • How do you handle challenges?
  • Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you rectify it?
  • Give an example how you effectively worked in a team.
  • How do you handle stress?

Thoughtfully answering these questions is a good idea, but it is also a good idea to think about them before the interview. Coming up with a time you effectively worked together in a team setting if you haven’t had much job experience might be difficult. If you’ve just graduated high school in the last couple of years, the answer might be to talk about an important school project you successfully executed in a team.

If you have worked in the retail industry for a while, it might be to talk about a successful Black Friday you and your coworkers orchestrated. Try to think outside the box when answering questions that you might not readily think apply to your work experience.

It is also a good idea not to make yourself sound superhuman. If an interviewer asks you how you handle stress, you shouldn’t say, “I don’t get stressed.” Everyone gets stressed and they are not looking for you to talk about how you’re perfect and better than the average applicant, but rather that you have coping mechanisms already in place for when things get stressful.

For these types of questions, you could also apply the CAR method as talked about on our previous blog as a framework when talking about yourself and your experiences.

Prepare your own questions

Interviews are just as much about you sizing up the company as they are about sizing up you. Come prepared with some questions to ask the employer. Common questions could be:

  • What is the work culture like here?
  • Who will I be reporting to?
  • What kind of induction and training will I receive?
  • What is the next step from here?

If you have properly prepared and researched the company, you could also tailor your questions to be relevant to the company and the position you are applying for.

As mentioned earlier, it is difficult to determine exactly what will be asked. Understanding and preparing for what may be asked will help put you at ease and help the interview run smoothly. If you are especially nervous, try practicing your answers using CAR in front of a mirror or with a friend.

Tricky Interview Questions: How CCI Training Center Can Help

CCI Training Center is proud to be able to help students take courses they need to be successful in a variety of industries in Dallas-Fort Worth, and Arlington, Texas. Our mission does not stop when you successfully pass your certification examinations, or have passed a class you need to start applying for positions.

We want to make sure you succeed in every part of your journey.

For this reason, before you even start classes, we offer career assessments. Before you even sign up for classes, you can take an assessment that will show what industries you might have a strong aptitude for. When you are finished with your courses, we will help you build your resume, including different job skills you may have that you wouldn’t think to put on a resume.

CCI Training Center has interview assistance to help you prepare for all the kinds of questions we have listed above. We want you to not only feel confident because you’ve done the training for the skills you need for your new career, but because you have practiced and prepared for interviews in the industry you desire to be a part of.

We know many of our students already have full-time positions, full-time families, and full-time bills that they must handle even while they are trying to educate themselves for a better career. CCI Training Center is designed to offer education to those who need it on a more flexible schedule. We will fit into your busy life, not the other way around.

Because of CCI Training Center flexible class schedule, resume building, interview assistance, and job placement benefits, our students can go from struggling to support themselves and their families, to providing a better life for everyone in under a year. You do not have to go to a four-year university to obtain the education you need to better your lifestyle. CCI Training Center only has the classes you need for optimal success, without all the fluff.

Do you have any other great preparation tips for interview questions? Join the conversation at Career Spotlight with CCI Training.

And when you’re ready, talk with our staff about everything you need to start your courses at CCI Training Center. They are ready and willing to help you find financial aid if need be, set up a course schedule that fits you’re needs, and get you on your way to a better job, and a better life.

Written By

Martin Zandi

A committed leader in the career education industry, Martin enjoys working with the community and colleagues in further improvement and expansion of education programs to improve outcomes.

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