7 Tricky interview questions and how you should answer them

Going for a  job interview can be tough, especially if you’re not prepared to answer some of the questions that your potential employers ask you. Are you going to an interview and are you clueless when it comes to answering interview questions? Well, don’t stress, today I’m going to boost your confidence with 7 tricky interview questions and give you pointers on how you should answer them.


1. “Tell me more about yourself”: Some job seekers may see this interview question as an invasion of their privacy, but it’s not. The interviewer is just trying to determine what kind of personality you have and if you would fit into their company / business.

The safest way to answer this question is to mention your childhood (where you grew up, etc), past work and recent opportunities that you may have come across (preferably ones related to the industry). Don’t go too much into specifics. Focus on what most interests the interviewer, highlight your most important accomplishments and be brief. Starting your answer with “I can summarize who I am in three words…”, “My passion is…” or other compelling words immediately focuses the interviewer’s attention on you. Don’t answer this question with “What do you want to know?” (which will show the interviewer that you did not prepare), compile an answer and practice it before you go to the interview.

2. “How do you fit an elephant in a refrigerator?”:  Questions like this one, “How do you get a penguin to ski?” or “How do you scale a tall building with flip-flops?” and others are more commonly used in job interviews nowadays, so try not to give the interviewer an “Are you crazy?” look when they ask you the question. They’re not crazy. All they want to do is get a peek inside your brain and they want to see how it works.

Your answer doesn’t need to be 100% correct or on point for this question. What matters here is how creatively you solve the problem the interviewer presents you with. Tell them exactly how you would go about solving it, however silly it may seem. Show them that you can come up with unique ways to solve problems in their company.

3. “How do you handle office conflict?”: This behavioral question is asked to find out if you’re a team player. The best way to answer this question is give the interviewer an example. Tell a story about how you’ve handled  office conflict in the past and how you were able to resolve it. Make sure that the example you use had a positive outcome. Don’t answer the question with “I didn’t agree with how my manager was treating me, so we sorted it out in the parking lot.” It won’t get you the job.

4. “What didn’t you like about your current / previous employer?”:  Think twice before you answer this question and don’t talk negatively about your current / previous employer. Turn this negative question around by answering it with with a positive twist. Start by complimenting the company you work for / worked for and delve into things that annoyed you. An example of a good answer is “I was tasked with too much paperwork and administrative work, but I feel like I would grow and excel in my job if I had more interactions with people.”

5. “Do you know any jokes?”: When you are going to an interview, always have a funny joke in your pocket that is harmless and that could invoke a laugh from the interviewer.

6. “Where do you see yourself in five years from now?”: When an interviewer asks you this question they’re actually asking you “How does this position fit in with your overall short-term and medium-term career goals for yourself?”. Be genuine and help the interviewer understand why the position you are applying for would be a great next step for you on your career journey, even if you’re not sure what your ultimate career goal is.  Avoid answering this question with answers like “I want your job some day”, “I want to be the CEO, unless you are an executive VP or on the board of directors”, “As high as I can go” or “I want to own my own company some day”.

A great example of an answer is “First and foremost, I want to contribute as much as I can to your company in the position I’m applying for. Once mastered, I see myself in a supervisory or management role. I’m a good leader and enjoy managing people and projects.”. When answering this question remember that what you say should be truthful and should apply to you, the potential asset for the company.

7. “What are your strengths and your weaknesses?”: Don’t start by listing all the imperfect aspects of your personality. Interviewers will ask you this question because they want to check your honesty and confidence levels. They want to see how you handle a stress question and how you respond to it. Try to turn your weaknesses into strengths in your answer.  Don’t say “I work too hard”, “spelling” (if you are applying for a secretarial position) or “dealing with difficult people” (if you’re applying for a customer service job).

Here’s an example of a good answer for this question: “I think my strengths are in my ability to understand the intent of a project, master the details, and organize and pursue a well-developed project plan. My weakness might be that I can be a little impatient with people who don’t keep their commitments, although I’m learning that I get better results by being tactful and persistent in asking questions, rather than making demands.”

Well, there you have it, 7 tricky interview questions and how you should answer them. I trust this info will help you when you go for your next job interview.

Feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Remember: Sharing is caring. You could be the reason that someone aces their next interview. If you have any tips or questions about interviews, feel free to comment on this article. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.

Keep your CV updated and watch this space for regular updates for job seekers on the Job Mail blog.

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50 Responses

  1. panana says:

    Pls send me some tips. Of about myself” and more question I can asked at the interview.

    DP mokoka

  2. elliot shimi says:

    I cnt even c this 7 tricky quetion

  3. Jeffmalaka says:

    I m Jeff malaka ,40 years old, born in hammanskraal in 1973, started school and finished school there.i started tecknical college in 1994

  4. thulasi says:

    Thanks for your keep in touch abt intrview tricks

  5. Modise says:

    The guestion that might be asked on a interview is why do you want to leave your company and what is the relationship between u and your management

  6. Thola says:

    Please send me the new format for the CV as well as 7 tricks for interview.

  7. tshegofatso says:

    I’m a hardworker! Have a self confident,im good at communicating with people.

  8. fundiswa says:

    I always get confused when they say why do u think we should hire you out all these people waiting outside,

  9. Nontobeko says:

    I’m a fast leaner and a good communication skill I no how to treate customers because I’v study dat I wz doing marketing management.

  10. Emmanuel says:

    Hi I need some tips on safety officer questions.plz help

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Emmanuel – You’ll have to ask someone who works in the industry to get more insight. Alternatively do a Google search on the topic. We don’t have all the answers.

  11. Makgabo Moloto says:

    Yes,i think thise tricks will be improve my stardard and I feel I can challenge the world now

  12. crispen says:

    Can’t c 7 tricky question. For interview browsing on the phone blackberry

  13. LIKOMO says:

    Everytime I went for an interview I make sure when I am asked to tell about myself I tell everything and the interviewer will have no more questions to ask at the end I won’t get the job because interviewers don’t like competition if they see that u are confident with goog self-esteem they won’t take u. I once did a shadowmatch and the result said I am very confident and people feel threated around me am too clever too.

  14. Ntobeko says:

    Please send an advanced formatted cv.Mine is in old style and does not get me noticed.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Ntobeko – Check out the blog posts listed under “CV’s” for more CV tips. Alternatively do a Google search for “Advanced CV Template”.

  15. Nicoline says:

    When do u see ur self in 5 yes back

  16. audrey says:

    What can I say,when they ask me to explain why I wish to apply for this project?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Be honest. If you see the project that you’re applying for as the next step in your career, explain this to them. If you see the project as a great way to gain experience, tell them.

  17. audrey says:

    Hi I just wanna ask about a certain campany I got am email telling me to come for interview.
    I quote some massage from the email
    “In Jhb,Newyork,London,and Uk

    Our international company is looking to expand in the Johannesburg Market… In doing so the following vacancies need to filled :

    *customer service
    *Sales and Marketing

    We also Train up to management level
    Company name:Growth-point consulting
    Address : 261 Oak Avenue Randburg
    Building name : Power place”

    • oageng says:

      I have graduated last year with diploma in public relation managemnet. I am 25 years old I am seeking a job at any company offering me oportunity to be assets to their organisation.

  18. T.M Khumalo says:

    Thank you, these 7 tricks are very helpful to me especially the one says when do you see yourself in 5 years.

  19. lucky says:

    About that question of’how to fit a pig in a refrigerator’and any other similar questions. How do you go about to answer them?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Lucky – It’s all about you being creative and coming up with a unique solution. They ask you these questions to see how you react and solve a problem creatively and quickly. If you give them a clever, creative and intuitive answer, they will be impressed.

  20. mike says:

    How to answer to my favour a question why i left xy company, when i know i was let go

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Mike – Just be honest without getting mad. Something like: The company restructured and I wasn’t included in their vision, so I was let go

  21. Lucky says:

    But honestly, how does one answer that question of “how do you fit an elephant in a freezer?” I know the intent but can u give an example how would you personally answer it?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Lucky – The point is to be creative. You could answer it as follows: I’d develop a shrinking ray and then use it on the elephant and then he’d fit into a freezer. The reason why you get asked this question is to see if you can be creative when you’re asked to solve problems.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Hi what if u fail to see an email in time,about attending an interview? Anyway of getting another date?

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Elizabeth – That is a good question. It’s best to follow up with the recruiter and explain your situation. Some of them will tell you that the position is still available and that you should come in for an interview. Others will inform you that the position is filled. You’ll have to find out from the employer, it’s the only way.

  23. hope says:

    What if I was dismissed from my previous employer and then after the hearings and all they allowed me to voluntary resign and they gave me a voluntary resignation certificate then at the interview they ask me why did I leave my previous employment, how should I respond

  24. Ngole says:

    Great pointers, thanks for the tips

  25. Mithu koiri says:

    Thank u so much sir, lm feeling more positiv and helpful wit this 7 tricks.

  26. keaoleboga says:

    please help me with that question how do you solve conflict

  27. Nevashnee says:

    I am applying for a Payroll job in a private all boys school. I have never worked in a school before, only corporate. What questions should i ask?

    • Hi Nevashnee, although the core duties of the job will still be very similar to what you’re used to, we suggest tailoring your questions to suit the specific role and new work environment which are quite different. Also use the internet to your advantage to research appropriate interview questions in your situation. Good luck!

  28. Mpohla mongi says:

    This article is too powerful and helpful thank you very much

  29. Nkanyiso says:

    Wow thank you i now got solution to questions that use to be difficult for me on an interview.. on Saturday I’m going for learnership interview at The Bay Hospital i need to get prepared

  1. Jan 16, 2014

    […] post 7 Tricky interview questions and how you should answer them appeared first on Job Mail […]

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