How To Ace The Toughest Job Interviews

How To Ace The Toughest Job Interviews

How many people would use a drug that prevents baldness? Name as many uses for a brick as you can in one minute. If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and dropped in a blender, how would you get out? Major companies are asking challenging job interview questions like these. Here’s how to prepare for them.

Photo by bpsusf

Glassdoor has listed the 25 most difficult companies to interview for and revealed daunting questions like these that candidates are actually asked. They go beyond the typical job interview questions — which are challenging enough on its own — to really stump you and test your mettle.

The good news is that interviewers aren’t really looking for one perfect answer (few people know exactly how many hotels are in the US, as one Google interviewer was asked), but rather they want to see how you think, your creative problem-solving skills and how you react under pressure. More examples recently asked include:

“Interview me and then tell me if you would hire me” — ThoughtWorks talent scout candidate (Porto Alegre, Brazil).

“Estimate how many windows are in New York” –Bain & Company associate consultant candidate (Boston).

“Give 2-3 negative points of diversity in a company” –Shell Oil supply chain graduate candidate (location n/a).

Mint notes that questions like “Why don’t you go to law school?” are sometimes asked to try to rattle candidates.

So the first thing you should do when in a job interview is make sure you stay calm, no matter what the interviewer throws at you. And whatever you do, don’t say “I don’t know”, even if the question seems impossible. Instead, think through the problem out loud so the interviewer can hear your thought process, and break it down into little parts or steps so you can come up with a solution. JLBender gives a couple of examples on HubPages:

Q. You have nine balls and one is lighter than the others. How do you find the lightest ball in two attempts?

This can be easily solved if you break down the steps to finding the answer. The first step is to divide the balls into sets of three and weigh each set. You will then know which set has the lightest ball. The second step is to weigh two of the three balls in the lightest set. If one weighs less than the other, you have found your ball. If they are equal, the ball you did not weigh is the lightest.

For the crazy trapped-in-a-blender question above, offer multiple strategies. For example, trying to jump from the blender blades or running from one side of the glass to the other to knock it over and escape.

Glassdoor has hundreds of similar brain teasers real interview questions for you to try. Sharpen your creative problem-solving skills enough and that interview will (hopefully) be a breeze.

Top 25 Most Difficult Companies To Interview; Consulting Firms Lead The Way [Glassdoor via Mint and CNN]


  • I’ve been through all manner of interviews like these. Most of the time the managers couldn’t do these questions themselves, and/or they selected or puzzle solvers who actually had very little empathy for the customers they had to represent.

    • 100% correct, the firm I work in keeps winning culture/service related awards because our interview process doesn’t involve arbitrary whacking around bushes, they simply ask the straight questions of ‘why you want this’. As a result the people are much more cooperative and nicer.

    • I had an interview where the interviewer asked me the “why didn’t you go to law school” question. This was for an engineering job, by the way.

      I’m mildly aspie so I can take things quite literally, especially in stressful situations like an interview. I simply said “because I wanted to be an engineer”. He said I should think about it some more. Didn’t get the job but frankly if I have to deal with stupid questions I don’t want to work there anyway.

      Stupid HR people. I’ve never had any troubles getting jobs when I’m interviewed directly by the person I’ll be working for.

      • LOL….. being an engineer myself, I can totally relate to you, it pisses me when they ask such convoluted questions. Mate, ask me a technical question, assess my personality don’t give me such moronic questions.

        BTW….. I would have said “Because I didn’t want to be the most hated person in the world!”

  • The “law school” question being asked of the engineers in here seems a little off topic.
    These are people who are all about the Sciences – definite answers, numbers, taking problems and applying formulas to them.
    To me the “law school” question is all about Humanities – intangibles, multiple correct answers, feelings, personalities etc.

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