How should you approach answering difficult interview questions?
In our experience, when you are faced with a difficult interview question you should do the following things:
- You should show the interviewer your thought process by thinking out loud
As we have discussed, interviewers ask tough questions because they want to see how you think and you work through difficult problems. As such, it is paramount that you say out loud how you are approaching the question and how you have reached your answer.
- You should think critically
When answering a tough interview question it is important that you demonstrate critical thinking skills. Now, critical thinking can look very different in different interviews but it may involve: double checking any workings, considering which approach will provide you with the most satisfactory answer before diving into your answer (and justifying your choice in your answer), defining terms in the question before you begin, identifying any problems or limitations with/to the answer you give and, potentially, asking for more information to clarify specifically what is being asked.
- You should structure your answers
When faced with a tough question it is very tempting to ramble and to bombard the interviewer with everything that you know about the subject in the hope that you happen to answer the question. However, unsurprisingly, this is not the best approach. It is very important that you structure your answers. Now, there is not a one-size-fits-all structure for an interview answer but you should try to work in a logical manner, rather than dotting about. For example, you may want to start by defining a key term in the question, before, secondly, identifying and working through two main points with an example per point, and then, finally, you may identify a possible limitation with your answer.
- You should draw on your existing knowledge
Finally, when you are answering a difficult question you should utilise your existing knowledge. As we discussed above, interviewers are eager to see how you apply and make use of ideas which you have studied before – so don’t forget everything you already know when you are faced with a challenging question! Even if a question seems to be on something which you do not know anything about, you should be able to draw on something which you have studied to give you some ideas or useful information. Similarly, you should be able to think of examples from your existing knowledge which you can use to support your answers; answers which make use of examples are much stronger as they are more focussed and examples act as evidence to support your points.
If you’d like the opportunity to practice answering some difficult questions, get in touch on 0207 607 5370 to book some rigorous, realistic, and testing practice interviews