Have you ever disrespected anyone

Brain teasers: the 10 toughest interview questions - and how to answer them.

How many dogs live in Germany?

What are your strengths and your weaknesses? Why did you apply to us? What knowledge do you have? These typical interview questions will not lure applicants from their reserves any longer. You expect such questions and have usually prepared yourself for them and already put together a good answer. On the other hand, it looks different with difficult application questions to which you have no answer at first. We'll remedy the situation!


Would you like to prepare perfectly for your interview?

WBS TRAINING offers individual application coaching.

To application coaching.


What are “brain teasers” in the job interview?

HR managers use tricky questions, so-called “brain teasers”, to test the analytical skills and spontaneity of applicants. Brain teasers come in the form of puzzles, puzzles, estimation questions or case studies (case studies). If you are not expecting them, questions like these can quickly get you bogged down with all your concentration and good preparation for the interview.

Trick questions, arithmetic puzzles, role-playing games: curious examples from practice.

On the online portal glassdoor, employees can rate their employer and also post questions that were asked of them in the job interview. This includes all sorts of unusual questions from job interviews across all industries. Here are our brain teaser finds:

  1. "How do you explain the color yellow to a blind person?"
    (Question in a job interview at Google)
  2. "What was the biggest failure in your life and how did you deal with it?"
    (asked at adidas)
  3. "How about the Mars chocolate bar as a person?"
    (asked by the market research agency Happy Thinking People)
  4. "How do you feel about the legalization of cannabis?"
    (asked at the publishing house Axel Springer)
  5. "What do you do when you have two important appointments at the same time?"
    (asked at BMW)
  6. “What behavior would you do with another person bring it to 180?“
    (asked at the Louis Vuitton fashion house)

Interview tricks: Expect the unexpected.

These examples show that there is basically only one rule that applies to trick questions in job interviews: No question is too bizarre. Applicants should therefore try to expect the unexpected. It is rather unlikely that the HR manager will ask you exactly the same question that you researched in advance. But don't worry: you can still prepare yourself for tricky questions in the job interview. Because the questions may be very different, but are often structured in a similar way or aim at comparable answers.

How do I cleverly answer difficult interview questions?

If a recruiter asks you a tricky question during the interview, he is not interested in hearing the "right" answer from you - there is usually no such answer. This is also the opinion of Solmaz Alevifard, job coach and expert in application training at WBS TRAINING. She says: “The aim of the interviewer is to find out how systematically, structured and logically the applicant is handling a problem situation. In addition, answering such questions shows how communicative the applicant is, e.g. B. to obtain the necessary additional information by asking the interviewer. The ability to show how agile, resilient and confident the applicants are under time and pressure to solve problems becomes clear. "

10 examples of brain teasers - and clever answers to them.

For applicants, brain teasers are a good opportunity to stand out with an original answer and to stay in the mind of the potential new employer. We'll show you how to do this using ten different sample questions.

  1. What personality would you like to meet for lunch?

    A little psychoanalysis in the job interview? Not necessarily. However, your answer tells the recruiter something that goes beyond a résumé and references. Because your reply gives an impression of which qualities you value in others or which you find fascinating. Have a scientific conversation about time and space with Stephen Hawking? Chatting with Frida Kahlo over coffee about contemporary art? Or get business tips from Jordan Belfort (the role model for "Wolf of Wall Street")? You should be able to explain your answer plausibly.

  2. What are seven things you can do with a paper clip?

    Lateral thinking is expressly encouraged! “Keeping sheets together” may be one of your answers, but after that you should turn the creativity screw. Because this is where the interviewer puts your wealth of ideas to the test. Some suggestions: open the SIM card slot of an iPhone, scratch off a lottery ticket, pop a soap bubble, bend a figure out of wire, wear it as an earring ... The more original your ideas about misuse, the better.

  3. If the Milka brand were a planet - what would it be like there?

    Questions like these are often used in market research to uncover unconscious tendencies. Such questions can also arise in the job interview. In our example, you shouldn't just answer “purple”, but dive deeper into the mind game. How is the light on the Milka planet? What kind of people live there? What does it smell like? What is the mood? Describe the fictional brand world in as much detail as possible.

  4. Why are manhole covers round?

    The manhole cover principle is a popular classic among the brain teasers. This is about logic, analytical thinking and finding out whether an applicant has an eye for the essentials. A conclusive answer could be: A round manhole cover is always larger than the manhole and therefore cannot fall into it (and on the head of a construction worker) if it slips. Can you think of any other answers? As long as it can be logically justified, your answer is correct.

  5. When was the last time you disregarded a rule - and why?

    The fact that you don't pay GEZ fees or that you recently went over red are not the anecdotes that matter here. Rather, the HR manager wants to find out with his question how much you want to assert your own head and whether you are able to weigh the pros and cons of a thing. The HR manager should see that you respect the rules, but not blindly follow them. It is ideal if you can remember a professional situation in which you have violated the regulations, but still acted wisely. Ideally, you will have even achieved an improved result through a decision that is appropriate to the situation.

  6. What historical event would you have liked to have attended?

    With this question the HR manager tries to "tease out" your hidden interests. Spontaneity and creativity are very important here. For example, would you have liked to have been part of the discovery of America? Or would you have celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall at the border crossings in 1989? Your justification should reveal something personal about you. But be careful: stay away from overly sensitive topics. You shouldn't mention events like the Wannsee Conference or the assassination of John F. Kennedy because of their political explosiveness.

  7. As an entrepreneur, what would you do if you had all the money in the world?

    It goes without saying that “leave for the Maldives” may not be the appropriate answer. Instead, relate the answer to the job or company you're applying to. For example, you can answer that you would increase employee productivity by transforming all offices into oases of well-being or that you would open up new markets around the world. “Buying up all of the competing companies”, presented with a small smile, can also be a humorous approach to asking yourself this question.

  8. How many dogs live in Germany?

    Estimation questions like these are a popular tool for testing your logical and mathematical thinking skills. Realize that your solution is more important than an exact number. You should still have the population of Germany of around 83 million in your head, then you are free to consult your circle of friends and consider them to be representative - after all, you have no other benchmark. You can now estimate how many out of 100 of your friends have a dog. For example, if there are 25 dogs among 100 friends, the ratio is 1: 4. You can then extrapolate this value to the total population. Now estimate the number of abandoned dogs from animal shelters and strays and add this to the result. It is allowed to use paper and pen to help.

  9. Sell ​​me this pen!

    Sales talent and persuasiveness are required here. If you're applying for a position in sales, a question like this is quite likely. But it can also “hit” applicants from other areas. The motto is: convince instead of persuading! Make it clear to your counterpart what benefits and advantages he can get from buying the pen. Make sure, however, not to go into rambling and, in teleshopping fashion, just list the obvious attributes of the pen. The more innovative and creative your approach, the better.

  10. What did you learn last week?

    PayPal manager Derek Hann stated in an interview that he asked this question to all of his applicants. Because the opportunity to continue your education and learn something new always arises - you just have to seize it. Feel free to take a moment to ponder the question. There is sure to be an interesting newspaper article or book you read last week, a museum you visit, a piece of furniture you set up, or a podcast you listened to. With all of these things, you've learned something - you just have to be aware of it.

How do I stay calm in stressful application situations?

Application coach Solmaz Alevifard advises: “Awareness that such questions can arise is the first step. In the second step, preparation and a rough idea of ​​your own behavior in such situations play an important role. ”It also asks applicants to calmly ask questions to the interviewer if they have not fully understood a question or task. It makes sense to deal with brain teasers beforehand - the attempt to learn them by heart, however, has little chance of success. "Rather, it is advisable to train yourself in structured and at the same time creative finding solutions as well as keeping calm."


Are you interested in application coaching?

Then take a look at WBS TRAINING.

To application coaching.


Article image by Dmitry Ratushny