Top 10 Toughest Interview Questions of 2017
How do you prepare for a question that is so leftfield it appears to have been plucked from some incomprehensible mire of obscure interview questions? Well, you can’t really. They’re often thrown in to see how you react, to see your logical reasoning’s behind things.
Anonymous employee review website Glassdoor has compiled a list of the 20 toughest interview questions over the last year. You can see all 20 questions by clicking on this link and view the top 10 below. And yes, they are all real questions asked in interview.
10. “How would you describe cloud computing to a 7-year-old?” – Graduate Scheme, Microsoft
Communication is important in all organisations and a question like this, posed by Microsoft to a graduate, tests the ability to break things down to simple parts and convey what they are. The question also tests just the candidates understanding of computers and their ability to think logically.
9. “How do you cope with repetition?” – Product Specialist, Tesla Motors
Electrica car maker Tesla likes to see itself as a groundbreaking company but building a car can be a cumbersome and repetitive process as parts must be tested over and over again to make sure they are safe and function correctly. It’s a good idea to see how a product specialist with cope with this in advance.
8. “Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.” – Forward Deployed Software Engineer, Palantir Technologies
Analytics company Palantir Technologies is notoriously one of Silicon Valley’s most secretive companies. The CIA-backed startup one-ups the usual interview question of asking for a candidate’s biggest weakness by asking for two, forcing people to think on their feet.
7. “If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?” – CCP, American Express
White House/Pete Souza
Like many of the other questions on the list, this one forces applicants to reflect on how they come across to others around them. It’s important to be aware of how people view you if you’re working as a customer care professional, the role American Express was recruiting for here.
6. “You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance.” – Sales Employee, Turnstone Sales
Sales staff have to be able to convince and cajole and this question gives candidates the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their powers of persuasion by justifying their choice of order. Unfortunately, the candidate didn’t provide the list of the 15 items to Glassdoor.
5. “What’s the most selfish thing you’ve ever done?” – Graduate Consultant, PageGroup
Recruiter PageGroup might be looking for honesty from graduates with this question but the person who was asked doesn’t say. The candidate says the whole process took 4 months and advises “keep on your toes the whole process.”
4. “If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned you £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?” – Associate Recruitment Consultant, Hays plc
Recruiter Hays pose a practical problem to potential employees with this question to see how they would cope with a real life recruitment problem. The interviewee told Glassdoor: “I would choose my friend as he I knew for a fact he would turn up for the work on day one and wouldn’t let me down. (I should have said, go with the person who makes you more money). Sticking to my answer worked in my favour.”
3. “How would your enemy describe you?” – Advertising Sales Grad Scheme, Condé Nast
Conde Naste is the publisher of Vogue, the fashion magazine that inspired the film and book, the Devil Wears Prada. It’s not clear in the Glassdoor review whether the advertising sales grad scheme was company-wide or for a specific title but if you’re familiar with Meryl Streep’s character in Devil Wears Prada, it’s not hard to imagine her asking this.
2. “What am I thinking right now?” – Regional Director, TES Global
TES — or the Times Education Supplement — Global is a digital education publisher. It’s not exactly clear what they were driving at by asking what the interviewer was thinking but the candidate who went for the regional director role wrote on Glassdoor that they found the whole thing “very bizarre.”
1. “What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?” – Marketing and Communications Employee, The Phoenix Partnership
Dima Korotayev / Getty
The Phoenix Partnership makes software for the healthcare sector. With this question, the company may well be testing how far sales staff are willing to push their software without overpromising or exaggerating. However, the candidate who posted the question wrote on Glassdoor: “Say absolutely nothing is remotely close to a lie. They are trying to catch you out and if gave them anything I’m pretty sure they would string you up for it.”