Impossible Interview Questions

I try to prepare my candidates for the usual interview questions….you know the ones we all prepare for…but then the tricky onesthe brain teasers... the catch you of your guard questions. Is it fair? Who cares! You should have FUN interviewing, take it as a character building experience and go for it!

I once had a hiring manager from a Pharma company ask my candidate: “What if I asked you to determine the average amount of water that flows into Niagara Falls every day?” What? Unfair! Who can possibly prepare for that answer? I’ll tell you a secret…my hiring manager didn’t care if the answer was right or wrong. He wanted to hear their plan. How the candidate would go about finding the facts/figures needed to arrive at their conclusions, the resources they would use, the websites they would scour for info or the people they would call. My example is an easy one yet there are other interview brain teasers out there that are much more difficult. A few questions are below…But I ask you….

  • What if  you  “spaced out”, “choked” or simply did not know the answer. What would you do? How would you explain? What would you say to the interviewer?
  • How would you advise a new college grad – who may be asked this kind of question? 

Other Brain Teaser Interview Questions:

1) If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?

2) You have 2 pieces of rope, each of which burns from one end to the other in 30 minutes (no matter which end is lit). If different pieces touch, the flame will transfer from one to the other. You cannot assume any rope properties that were not stated. Given only 1 match, can you time 45 minutes?

3) When would 2 trains traveling at different rate of speeds meet, when would 2 cars traveling at different speeds catch up to one another

4) If your life had a soundtrack, what song would be playing?

5) What was the most challenging moment in your life?

6) If you were a dessert, what would you be?

Laura Drews Freund
About the author: 

Laura Drews Freund is a Managing Partner at Cranbrook Search Consultants, a consultative executive search firm, specializing in the areas of marketing, market research, and brand management. Follow her on Twitter.