Curveball Interview Questions (And How to Handle Them Like A Pro)

  • Career
    Curveball Interview Questions (And How to Handle Them Like A Pro)

Source: Phil Oh, via

Whether you’re a recent graduate or an intern extraordinaire, chances are that a professional interview is in your not-too-distant future. And while routine interview questions can be anticipated and prepared for with robotic precision, more and more employers are integrating curveball queries in a bid to separate the savvy candidates from the so-so ones. Ahead, we take a look at some trickier interview questions and what to do if one comes your way.

“What do you dislike the most about this industry, and why?”

While we’re all used to rattling off what we love about our industry, it can be a little disarming to suddenly be asked to pinpoint what you don’t love. Be honest in your response, and try to offer a solution or improvement that makes your chosen gripe suck a little less. For example, you might say “My least favourite thing is how competitive the industry can be, but this has encouraged me to develop a wider range of skills and generate ideas that could create new roles in the future.”

“If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be and why?”

Now is not the time to say “I’m a perfectionist” or “Sometimes I become too focused on a task”… Employers can see right through these so-called faux flaws, and are more interested in the authenticity with which you answer. Be honest with yourself, and be sure to tell your interviewer how you’re working on improving your least desirable trait.

“Is it better to be punctual and good at your job, or late and perfect at your job?”

This particular question comes via Nadia Geller, managing director and owner of Californian interior design company Nadia Geller Designs. In an episode of CNBC’s ‘The Job Interview’, Geller posited that ‘good and punctual’ is the better response, as “perfection is really not attainable. And if you’re late on top of it, then people are waiting on you and to me that’s a no-no”.
While you might not get asked this exact question, it’s a good reminder that absolute perfection is elusive.

“If everyone in a meeting unanimously agreed with your manager’s idea, but you thought you had a better one, what would you do?”

As more and more business operate on flat hierarchies, the next big idea is just as possible to come from the intern as it is from the team leader. Questions like this are designed to test your confidence and professionalism, so now is the time to let your inner diplomat shine.

“If you became CEO of this company tomorrow, what’s the first thing you would change?”

No, this does not mean introducing nap pods or an in-house barista on demand. Use the research you’ve done on the company, the market and their main competitors to make a thoughtful, informed suggestion that reads as constructive, not cocky or naive. You want to show the interviewer that you have a good idea of what their company is about, where they’re headed and what you can bring to the table.


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