Difficult interview questions and answers

Difficult interview questions and answers

How many recruiters does it take to change a lightbulb?

Hiring managers occasionally like to test a candidate’s problem-solving skills and encourage them to demonstrate examples of logical thinking. We’ve covered how to answer common interview questions, but what happens when you’re asked something more unconventional?

While difficulty of the question will be wholly dependent on the company and hiring manager, here are a few of our favourite unconventional interview questions, and how to answer them…(click to see actual answer)

How many basketballs can you fit onto a bus?

Some of our favourite answers…

As with a lot of these questions, there isn’t a definitive answer. It’s really all about demonstrating a logical way of working them out. A great example of how to answer is:
Avaas Beenie: Calculate length, width, height = cubic metres. Account for seats etc. then assume the size of an inflated ball is 0.2 cubic metres. You divide the cubic metres of bus space by the ball space and – any space for seats, bars etc

How many traffic lights are there in London?

Some of our favourite answers…

A lot. We think @hyderymr is probably along the right lines. Essentially, it’s all about estimation and demonstrating logic in reaching the conclusion. Ok, you get the picture…

How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?

Some of our favourite answers…

Basically go with a well thought out estimate, e.g. ‘That would depend how many pianos there are in the entire world. For example, if pianos need tuning once a week, and it takes an hour to tune a piano and a piano tuner works nine hours a day for five days a week, then pianos need tuning each week. It would be one for every 45 pianos. Give or take…’ If you can demonstrate how adept you are at logical thinking… Ok, you get the picture.

A man pulls up to a hotel in a silver car, and immediately realizes he’s bankrupt. What happened?

Some of our favourite answers…

He was playing Monopoly. Let’s face it, everyone loves a riddle. Remember: some questions may be thrown in to catch you out. Try not to overthink the question. Taking a deep breath may help… (and give you a handy time to pause for thought)

Explain a database in three sentences to your eight year old nephew?

Some of our favourite answers…

Sometimes candidates rely too heavily on overcomplicated answers and technical jargon. This question relies on your ability to simplify things and being able to describe them in a succinct and concise way.

Something along the lines of: ‘A database is a lot of things, which have all been put together in a group. They have lots of information in them, and are kept on a computer. A very nice person sorts them all out’ will be sufficient.

Failing that go with: ‘Grown. Up. Stuff.’

If you could be any type of biscuit, what type of biscuit would you be, and why?

Some of our favourite answers…

Custard Cream. Always Custard Cream.

Whatever the question may be, most unconventional interviews don’t really have set right or wrong answers. They are meant to demonstrate how a candidate would react if a difficult problem came up, not to mention how they would cope under pressure.

Deceptively, they aren’t intended to take too much time. Instead of trying to come up with the perfect answer, just be creative and come to your own conclusion. As long as you can demonstrate how you got there, you’ve passed the test.

Finally, how many recruiters does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: too many…

Now that you’ve answered all of the questions the interviewer may have for you, it’s time to ask a few of your own. If you’re stuck for what to ask, view our suggested job interview questions.


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  • Robin Hodson

    The question to answer 4, is:
    “A woman pulls up to a hotel in her silver car, and immediately realizes she’s bankrupt. What just happened?”