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Interviewing

Tackle Interview Questions you Haven't Prepared For

So, you're in an interview and suddenly you're hit with a question you haven't prepared for. Don't worry, it happens to the best of us.

In this blog post, we'll discuss how I tackled a tricky question in a real interview, and how you can use the same approach to handle any unexpected question that comes your way.

The question

β€œIf I spoke with 10 random people in your life, how many of them would dislike you?”

tl;dr

  1. Stall for time by asking clarifying questions, rephrasing the question, and asking for a minute to structure your thoughts
  2. Break the question down into manageable segments
  3. Address each segment individually and explain your reasoning to the interviewer

Watch it in action

Step 1: Stall for time

When faced with a question you haven't prepared for, the first thing to do is buy yourself some time. This can be achieved by:

  1. Asking clarifying questions
  2. Rephrasing and repeating the question back to the interviewer
  3. Asking for a minute or two to structure your thoughts

Step 2: Break the question down into manageable segments

Next, make your own assumptions to create high-level segments, and then further divide them into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

In my case, I split the 10 random people into:

  • Personal group
  • Professional groups

And then further divided them into family (personal), friends (personal), internal teammates (professional), and external agencies (professional).

Step 3: Address each segment individually

Now that you have clearly defined segments, tackle each of them one by one, providing reasons for your estimates.

  • For example, I assumed that my family members would like me, but some friends and colleagues might not due to past disagreements or differing work styles.

Although my answer wasn't exactly what the interviewer was looking for, they appreciated my clear thought process and passed me to the next round.

The main takeaway here is not the "right" answer, but rather the process you use to arrive at a well-reasoned response.

In conclusion

So there you have it – a practical approach to answering unexpected interview questions.

By stalling for time, breaking the question down, and addressing each segment with clear reasoning, you can demonstrate your problem-solving skills and impress your interviewer, even when you're caught off-guard.

Remember to keep practicing and honing your interview skills, and feel free to reach out for more practical career and interview tips. Good luck!