How do you answer trick questions?

Posted by Fed Finance Suisse in Our employment advice
Posted at 15/09/2023
How do you answer trick questions?
During the recruitment process, candidates are required to answer questions from recruiters. Even if they are well prepared, candidates can be confronted with trick questions. Here is our advice and some sample answers to help you deal with these tricky questions:

During the recruitment process, during the preliminary contact phase or the job interview, candidates are asked to answer recruiters’ questions. Through their questions, recruiters seek to learn more about your profile, your know-how, and your interpersonal skills.

Employers pay particular attention to candidates’ personalities to determine whether they are likely to fit in well with the company’s staff. During the various stages of the recruitment process, a recruiter may use trick questions to test a candidate’s ability to think and adapt.

When these questions are asked, candidates often find themselves in a stage of stress and tend to lose their composure. As their name suggests, their purpose is to destabilize you and determine your reaction to an uncomfortable situation. However, it is possible to prepare and anticipate these questions to deal with them. Here is our advice on how to answer these trick questions:

Take your time

When faced with a trick question, do not let your stress overwhelm you. Always remain calm to show that you know how to handle an uncomfortable situation. Every candidate reacts differently to stress, and there is no miracle solution, so give yourself time to think before you answer. It is important to know exactly what message you want to convey to recruiters.

Defining the message you want to convey to the employer helps structure your answer and avoid stammering. On the other hand, you do not have an allotted time to structure your message: when faced with recruiters ‘questions, take the time to ask questions to frame the subject, which will help guide your response. 

Do not appear omniscient

You can not have the answers to all the questions you will be asked, and that is normal. There is no point lying to recruiters or trying your best bluff. When you do not have the answer to a question, it is best to admit to recruiters that you do not have the expertise to answer them. Use this opportunity to reaffirm your expertise and focus future questions on your area of expertise.

The employer will certainly appreciate your honesty, and it tends to show that you are not trying to put stars in their eyes. It is natural to want to put on a good face for recruiters,  but many candidates want to do too much. This is actually a bad strategy, because recruiters are not new to the game, and they can easily spot people wanting to do too much to prove their knowledge. Turn the questions to your advantage – only you can redirect them to suit your expertise. 

Examples of trick questions and answers

  • Can you tell me something about yourself?

Often asked at the start of an interview, it seems simple enough to introduce yourself. However, many candidates panic or present themselves in a deconstructed way when faced with this question. Candidates have the unfortunate tendency not to discern whether it is an invitation to start a conversation or an invitation to present their academic and professional background. To avoid any confusion, we recommend that you present your career path chronologically, explaining the choices that led you to choose this path. Naturally, you will be asked to present your technical skills to reassure recruiters and demonstrate your added value. On the other hand, during an interview, employers want to know about your personality, to find out whether your profile matches the values advocated by the company, and whether you will fit in well with the team. In addition, recruiters hope to determine through this question whether you intend to evolve within the company over the long term. 

  • Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses

This is your chance to mention your qualities and successes. There is no need to boast, but do not be afraid to sell yourself. Be confident and answer honestly. Ideally, you should have reread the offer before the interview to define the important points expected by the company. The aim is to be able to link your achievements and qualities with these, to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job.

  • Why are you interested in the position? 

Here, recruiters look to see what really motivates you, and whether you have done any research on the company. Tell them why you are interested in the position you are applying for and reaffirm your ability to carry out. Make sure you do not limit your motivation to the job itself: recruiters appreciate candidates who had the foresight to research the company and its culture. 

  • Why should I choose you? 

Arrogance is never the answer, and overconfidence gives employers a negative image of your profile. In this case, go back to your skills, whether technical or relational and present your added value. 

  • Where do you see yourself in 3 years? 

The aim of this question is to find out what your ambitions are, and whether you intend to move within the company in the short or long term. To answer this question, there is no need to lie to satisfy recruiters. Instead, tell them about your career plan, and the skills and missions you would like to acquire and develop alongside them. 

  • Have you applied to other companies? 

Once again, there is no need to lie about this question. Let recruiters know that you are applying for other positions and that you have even conducted interviews. This shows that you are involved in your job search and are being courted by other potential recruiters, which adds value to your application. In addition to positioning your application well, passing on this information gives you the negotiating power you need to get a quicker response to the statues of your application. 

  • Can we continue the conversation in another language?

Generally, when recruiters decide to test your language skills, it is because you have hinted that you have the necessary skills to continue the exchange in another language, or because the position requires it. Our tip is to try: a candidate who do not take the trouble to try the exercise could cost you points. On the other hand, a candidate who tries the exercise, while making mistakes, will be perceived positively by the employer, because mistakes only arise if you try. Recruiter’s tip: be honest. If the recruiter asks you to speak in a language you claim to master, it is because they have read your CV. To avoid disappointment, take the time to assess your language level and state it clearly on your resume. 

  • What are your salary expectations? 

To answer this trick question, make sure you have checked what the market standards are. You do not need to give a precise figure, but you can indicate your minimum expectations or those based on your qualifications. 

  • Do you have any questions? 

Make sure you never answer in the negative, or you risk showing a lack of interest in the position and the company. Prior to your interview, prepare some sample questions to help you better understand your tasks, your future team, and the company in general. If the recruiters have already dealt with your questions during the interview, we advise you to go back over certain subjects in more detail to fully understand the company’s challenges. The questions you should ask the recruiters go well beyond the subject of the assignments you will be given, and it is important to address questions related to the company’s culture, such as training programs, benefits, etc…

To sum up, answering trick questions requires careful preparation ahead of your job interview. Make sure you give only truthful information to recruiters, as they are likely to detect false information by going into the details of their questions. To give the most effective answer to a question, candidates should take their time to work out short sentences, avoiding tics of language and inconsistencies. Do not lie and stay authentic: even if you have sell your profile to recruiters, it would be counterproductive to present a false image of it.

Fed Finance is a recruitment firm specialized in accounting, payroll, and finance positions in the Lemanic Arc region. Looking for a new career opportunity? Take a look at the vacancies available on our website or send us your spontaneous application. As soon as your profile matches the needs of one of our clients, a Fed Finance consultant will contact you for an interview. An interview with a recruitment expert gives you unique advice and support throughout your recruitment process.