How to Answer an Interview Question you DIDN’T Prepare For

Imagine during your next interview, you get asked this question, if I spoke with 10 random people in your life right now, how many of them would dislike you? How would you go about answering that question? In this blog, I break down the three steps I take whenever I get interview questions I could not have possibly prepared for, and show you how to pass the round even if you give a wrong answer.

Quick Disclaimer

This was a real interview question list presented by buy thesis online for you. And although the interviewer told me afterwards, my answer was not the one she was looking for, she could see I had a very clear thought process, and so she gave me a pass. If you’re just interested in knowing what the correct answer was, feel free to jump to the timestamp listed right here on screen but the main takeaway from this blog should really be the process I used to answer a question I didn’t prepare for, and how that process can be replicated by anyone.

Step One, Stall For Time

Many people have the misconception that buying themselves some time when faced with a hard interview question makes them come off as unprepared. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Doing so actually shows the interviewer you are composed and are willing to think the question through, instead of jumping to a hasty answer, which leads me to the first tip when stalling for time. Ask clarifying questions.

During My Interview

How many of these 10 random people would dislike you? I started to immediately ask questions like, would these people would be my family, friends, or colleagues? Do we assume they all have to give an honest answer? When was the last time they interacted with me? By asking me these questions, I’m buying myself time to think, and I’m showcasing problem solving skills by conveying to the interviewer that I’m trying to gather as much relevant information as possible.

Rephrase And Repeat The Question Back To The Interviewer

The second tip to use when installing for time, rephrase and repeat the question back to the interviewer. After I asked three to four follow-up questions, I basically said, just to make sure I understand the question correctly, you want to know out of my entire life, if you picked 10 people at random that I’ve interacted with, how many of them would dislike me, and we can assume they’ll all be honest?

At this point in time, after tip one and two, I’ve bought myself at least two minutes, and my brain has spent that time trying to figure out the next logical step. The final tip to use when stalling for time, literally ask for a minute or two to structure your thoughts on pen and paper. Unless a question is something super basic like tell me about yourself or some other really common interview question, the interviewer will always give you time to structure your answer. Again, if you think about it from their perspective, hearing an answer you took a bit of time to prepare for gives them a much more accurate sense of how you perform on a day to day basis versus having you say the first thing that pops into your head.

Break The Question Down Into Manageable Segments

You do this by first making your own assumptions when very little information is provided. In my example, I assume out of the 10 random people, five them are from my personal life, friends and family, and the other five are from my professional life, internal teammates and external agencies I work with. And I assume no overlap between these two groups.

I did this mainly because number one, I knew the math would turn out easy, five and five. And number two, using the professional and personal groupings is a mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive, MECE way to break down my relationships. The MECE Principle was coined by McKinsey. And although it is most often used in consulting case interviews, it definitely applies to a lot of the harder interview questions you’ll receive.

High Level Assumptions

You have those high level assumptions, you segment them into bite sized pieces, making each part easier to tackle. Back to my example for the personal group, because I have a lot more friends than family members, out of the five people, four would represent my friends, and one would represent my family. I use the same logic with a professional group. I probably work a bit more with internal, cross-functional teams than I do with external agencies.

Three And Two Respectively

I allocated three and two respectively. Hopefully you can see at this point, thanks to step one and two, I’ve taken a question that started off super vague, 10 random people in my life, and turned to something much more tangible. One family member, four friends, three internal teammates and two external agencies.

Answering The Question By Addressing Each Segment

Starting with my family. Well, they’re my family, hopefully I can assume they all like me. So, zero out of one so far will say they dislike me. Moving on to the four friends. Taking my Instagram in which are friends as a benchmark, I’d say I catch up with around 25% of them on a regular basis and we get along pretty well. 50% probably feel neutral towards me.

They don’t love me, they don’t hate me. They don’t really care about me and the remaining 25%, I’ve probably frustrated or annoyed at some point in the past due to my high maintenance yet perfect personality. Perfect personality. So all in all, one out of the four friends would say they dislike me. Moving on to internal teams I work with.

Blunt And Direct At Work

I’m very blunt and direct at work so I’m certain, at least a third of my teammates find me slightly/very difficult to work with. So one out of three would say they dislike me here. And finally, for external agencies, how they view me will usually be based on the project we’re working on at the time. Half the projects go very well, half of them need a bit more work. So they might not like me 50% of the time, meaning one out of two here.

If I add all this up, three out of 10 people in my life would say they dislike me. Couple of things I want to point out before moving on to what happened next. First, while the reason I gave for the like to dislike ratio isn’t scientific and wouldn’t hold up in court, mt rationale and logic were hopefully clear and easy to follow.

The Way I Went About The Question Was A Way To Go About It

You could have easily segmented the 10 people chronologically from your childhood friends to your current acquaintances. Finally, as I was making those assumptions and segmenting the groups, I was articulating all of that out loud. So the interviewer could easily follow my train of thought. So what happened next? Well, after I gave my answer, the interviewer didn’t challenge me or anything and just moved on to the next question.

I Passed The Round

It wasn’t until a week or so after I had already passed the round, that’s the interviewer told me, although she liked my approach, it wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. And so she mentioned that because a role required working with variety of different teams, I should have number one, only segmented the 10 random people by the teams I would have worked with.

Sales, Marketing, And Engineering Teams

For example, and number two, I should have broken down those teams by their objectives and number three, mentioned how sometimes the decisions I make might not be fully aligned with their goals, AKA they might dislike me but that’s something I should be okay with as long as I’m doing what’s right for the business.

Also Read: Innovative DeFi Development Methods to Promote Expansion Plans

After hearing her thought process, I do agree her answer makes a lot more sense than mine. But again, the main point here is that she didn’t give me a number out of 10 as a correct answer, right? It was more about the logic I used to arrive at my answer that ultimately helped me pass that round. If you found this anecdote helpful, you might want to check out my data-driven blog on how to write an outstanding resume or my playlist on all the common interview questions and answers.

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