A job interview can be a stressful time. How can you prepare for the different questioning methods you may encounter during this process?


When you approach a job interview, chances are the person on the other side of the table carries a wealth of experience about the interview process. For most occasions, they’ll have a set of techniques designed to get the most out of each new candidate.

These techniques take a range of different forms. Whether it’s a formal investigation of your work history, an intense grilling of past highs and lows or a lighthearted conversation based around oddball interview questions, these exchanges are just like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

Here are some of the current trends prospective employers are using to find out whether they’re interested in candidates or not. How many are you prepared to face?

The jester

Whether it’s a focus for the entire interview, or an important moment the employer builds up to, curveballs will be used to force you to think outside the square. After all, there are thousands of people across the country boasting similar qualifications and work experience, making it hard for organisations separate the best from the rest.

Glassdoor has done extensive research on the topic, discovering that curveball interview questions often fall into a range of categories.

One of the most common ones the organisation noted was the “the bizarre scenario”, where interviewers present a ridiculous situation and expect you to come to terms with it or find a solution. The example Glassdoor used came from Apple, asking “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?”

While this is at the more extreme end of the spectrum, another example Glassdoor uncovered is “What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash?”, originally asked by Airbnb. Although it’s intended to test your problem-solving and planning abilities, the question can be a bit of a shock if you’re used to a more formal interview process.

Ultimately, being an expert at answering questions that come straight out of left field relies more on your instinct than on planning. In these cases, it’s important to be able to loosen up a bit, without losing focus on the key point of the question.

The unimpressed

Recently, an article published in Forbes by career assistance provider The Muse detailed some of the techniques interviewers will use in an attempt to throw you off your game. For some roles, holding your own and reacting positively in times of stress and pressure is an important asset, and it just so happens that an interview is the perfect situation to put these traits to the test.

A strategy that can be particularly unnerving is when interviewers act unimpressed, a tactic The Muse notes is often brought out for high-achieving candidates. In these cases, no matter how extraordinary their achievements may be, the interview responds without any added fanfare.

This tactic is intended to prepare you for a team environment, where other employees may not necessarily be amazed by previous achievements. This is particularly true for people applying for roles in high-performing teams, where it is likely that all individuals will have a host of impressive skills, achievements and qualifications to draw from.

In these cases, The Muse notes it’s important you acknowledge this tactic early on in the interview and target your answers accordingly. Responses that resonate with interviewers using this technique include those that highlight your previous successes in team environments and your ability to integrate with existing workplace cultures.

The new best friend

On the other hand, sometimes it’s not an uncaring or uninterested interviewer who throws you off but rather one that is overly friendly. This is because we all have certain expectations when it comes to the job interview process, and these are often turned on their head when we encounter an informal interviewer who isn’t afraid to make jokes or lighten the mood.

The Muse notes there are a range of different motivations behind these processes. In some cases, it can be as innocent as having an interviewer that is bored with the standard formal interview process or simply doesn’t find it valuable. In others, it may be that they’re an ambassador for the rest of the culture at the company and they want the interview to act as an introduction to this.

Turn the tables

Of course, asking questions isn’t just for the interviewer, and it’s essential you have the confidence to contribute to the discussion as well. Without this input, the exchange can appear closer to an interrogation than a conversation.

According to Business Insider, it’s important to ask a range of different questions, including those that focus on the company’s culture, what the interviewer likes about their role and the various methods they use to evaluate success.

With these tips and mind, it’s much easier to prepare for the pressures of an interview with confidence.