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Answering tricky questions in an interview can be challenging, but there are a few strategies
you can use to prepare and respond effectively.

Answering tricky interview questions

Well, always remember, when you get routed through ShortlistMe, the employer has your
details and the interview is taking place because you match their exact requirements, so be

1. Listen carefully

Active listening is a skill that is often overlooked. The interviewer wants to see if you can process information effectively and respond appropriately. By tuning in to the exact words, tone, and context of the question, you can better tailor your answer. If you're ever in doubt about the question, it's entirely appropriate to repeat it back for clarity or ask for more details. This shows the interviewer your commitment to getting things right.

Extra Tip: Try the "mirror" technique. Subtly repeat or paraphrase a part of the question when you answer. It not only confirms understanding but also builds rapport with the interviewer.


2. Take a moment to think

In our fast-paced world, we sometimes feel the pressure to respond immediately. However, in an interview setting, it's acceptable and even commendable to pause and reflect on the question. It showcases that you value giving a well-thought-out response over a hasty one. This patience can also signal that you would be a diligent and thoughtful employee.

Extra Tip: Remember the "3S Rule" - Stop, Smile, and Start. After hearing the question, stop for a brief moment, offer a gentle smile (indicating you're pondering), and then start your answer.


3. Be honest

Integrity is a quality that every employer values. If you're confronted with a question you don't have an answer to, it's far better to be forthright than to attempt to fabricate a response. In doing so, you demonstrate authenticity and a willingness to learn. You can also pivot by discussing related experiences or knowledge, highlighting how you might find the answer post-interview.

Extra Tip: If you find you don’t know the answer, pivot the conversation by tying it to something related that you are familiar with. This way, you can still showcase your knowledge.


4. Stay focused:

The clarity of thought is paramount. While it might be tempting to delve into extensive backstories or segue into related topics, it's crucial to stick to the question's core. Should you find yourself straying, it's a good practice to anchor back to the main point, ensuring that you've thoroughly addressed the interviewer's inquiry.

Extra Tip: Imagine your answer as a tweet. If you had to condense your response into 280 characters, what would the essence be? It's a fun way to ensure brevity and focus.


5. Use examples:

Real-world anecdotes can transform a generic response into a compelling narrative. By citing specific instances from your past roles, you not only validate your qualifications but also offer a glimpse into how you approach challenges and celebrate successes. Ensure your examples are relevant, detailed, and succinctly tie back to the question.

Extra Tip: Create a "story bank" ahead of time. Preparing a set of versatile personal and professional anecdotes can help you quickly pull a relevant story during the interview.


6. Show enthusiasm:

While qualifications are essential, passion can be the factor that sets you apart. Demonstrating genuine excitement about the role and the company signals that you're not only looking for a paycheck but a place to invest your time, skills, and energy. By commenting on recent company news or initiatives, you also show that you've done your homework.

Extra Tip: Incorporate the company's mission or values into your responses. It subtly reinforces that you've researched and are aligned with their vision.


7. Practice:

Like any skill, interviewing improves with practice. By regularly simulating the interview environment, you can anticipate potential curveballs and refine your responses. Consider enlisting a mentor or trusted colleague to provide feedback. Over time, you'll find that your confidence grows, making the real interview feel like just another practice session.

Extra Tip: Use voice recording apps or video tools to record your practice sessions. Playbacks can reveal not just content, but tone, pacing, and areas for improvement.


8. Stay Calm:

Challenging questions can sometimes be designed to assess your composure under pressure. Deep breaths, maintaining steady eye contact, and reassuring self-talk can help you navigate these moments with grace. Remember that everyone, even the interviewer, has faced tough questions in their career. It's your approach, more than the perfect answer, that leaves a lasting impression.

Extra Tip: Before the interview, practice a grounding technique like the "5-4-3-2-1" method, where you identify five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. It's a great way to stay present.


9. Ask Thoughtful Questions:

urn the tables by preparing insightful questions of your own. This not only demonstrates your proactive nature but also gives you valuable insights into whether the company aligns with your personal and professional values. Explore topics like team dynamics, growth opportunities, and company culture.

Extra Tip: End your questions with an open-ended query like, "What are your thoughts on that?" It transforms a simple Q&A into a richer dialogue.


By immersing yourself in these strategies and practices, you'll be well-equipped to navigate even the trickiest of questions. Remember, every interview is a learning experience, bringing you one step closer to your ideal role.