There’s nothing worse than being stumped at a job interview. Here are five tough curveball questions that often catch job applicants off guard and how to answer them. Use them to prepare for your next job interview. 

1.   How would you explain a complex concept to a five-year-old?

One of the desirable traits that interviewers look for when interviewing a potential job candidate is communication skills. This is one of the most common job interview questions. It’s used to gauge your ability to simplify complex ideas and communicate effectively. It assesses not only your communication skills but also adaptability and critical thinking.

Plausible answer

Start by breaking down the complex concept into small digestible sections/parts. Provide a step-by-step guide using simple and concise language to help them understand each section. Go the extra mile to use analogies that the interviewers are familiar with to make it even easier for them to understand.

2.   If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Job interviews aim to understand your academic qualifications and experience that make you a good fit for the position and uncover your personal traits. Few questions reveal one’s personality traits, values, and problem-solving abilities than this.

It gives the interviewer insights into how you internalize concepts and what motivates you. It also gives them an idea of how well you fit in or can contribute to the company culture.

Plausible answer

If I could have any superpower, I would choose the power of empathy. understanding and feeling what others are going through helps me connect with people more deeply. It would enable me to be a better team player, resolve conflicts more effectively, and create a supportive work environment.

3.  Describe a challenging situation you encountered in your previous work experience and explain the steps you took to overcome it

Companies want resourceful people who can solve problems and make decisions. Interviewers use this common interview question to evaluate your problem-solving skills, adaptability, and ability to work under pressure.

One way to answer this question correctly is by highlighting a situation that aligns with your skills and best expresses your ability to overcome obstacles, collaborate with others, and achieve positive or expected results.

Plausible answer

In my previous role as a project manager at [Company Name], we faced a significant problem when one of the key members of my team unexpectedly resigned in the middle of a critical project. The project almost crumbled as the team member was an expert and possessed vital knowledge of the subject matter.

To address this challenge, I immediately convened a meeting with the remaining team members to discuss the impact and reallocate responsibilities. I also went the extra mile to reach out to other departments to leverage their expertise and ensure a smooth transition.

By creating an open communication channel, bringing on board other departments, and creating a collaborative work environment, we successfully filled the knowledge gap and completed the project within the agreed timeframe.

This experience taught me the importance of teamwork and being able to adjust and adapt quickly to changes in the workplace. I also learned how to be calm and prepared for unforeseen circumstances.

4.   How do you handle feedback and criticism?

This kind of job interview questions aims to determine your openness and desire to learn and grow. It also determines your ability to handle constructive feedback and criticism positively. This is a golden opportunity to flaunt your active listening skills, attention to detail, ability to accept feedback graciously and implement recommendations to improve your performance or achieve the expected outcomes.

Plausible answer

I value and consider feedback and criticism a powerful personal and professional growth tool. Whenever I receive feedback or criticism, I first listen and deeply understand the shared perspective. I then reflect on the input, evaluate its validity, and look for opportunities to learn and improve.

More importantly, I maintain a growth mindset. I’m always open to constructive criticism and don’t take it personally. Instead, I take it positively and use it to refine my skills. In my previous role, I used feedback and criticism from my supervisors and team members to enhance my performance and contribute more effectively to the growth and success of the team and organization.

5.   Why are you interested in this position?

This job interview question is meant to assess your genuine interest in the role and understanding of the company. As you prep for the one-on-one or phone job interview, do your homework to understand the company thoroughly. Tailor your response based on your findings and emphasize how the position aligns with your career aspirations and life goals.

Plausible answer

I have monitored your company’s growth and innovation in the [Industry the company is in] for a year. I’m genuinely inspired by your commitment to developing cutting-edge solutions that amicably address the needs and expectations of your target customers.

The opportunity to join a team that fosters creativity and encourages problem-solving greatly aligns with my passion for pushing the boundaries. More importantly, your company emphasizes collaboration and nurturing a supportive work environment resonates with my values. Working alongside talented professionals like you will further develop my skills and hone my ability to contribute positively to the growth of this industry.

Bonus Tip

The interview should be interactive and not just about you. Toward the end of the interview, stand out from other candidates by asking the employer one or two insightful questions. For example, you can ask about their future aspirations and plans, then add a comment on how you can help them achieve the goals they mention.

Final Thoughts

Doing due diligence and preparing thoughtful responses to these five common job interview questions will make you stand out and increase your chances of being hired. Use the internet to learn more about the company and your interviewing role. The findings will help you prepare well and boost your confidence and morale. Be sure to dress accordingly, keep time, and be audible. Good luck!