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Being Asked a Tricky Interview Question? Give These Skillful Responses to Earn Extra Time

Being Asked a Tricky Interview Question? Give These Skillful Responses to Earn Extra Time

You know that moment – your heart stops, you stop breathing, and your whole body freezes for a second. It feels like a whole millennium is passing by before your eyes. We are talking about the moment when an interviewer takes their seat right in front of you and you are expecting to hear an answer which you don’t have.

It seems unfair, doesn’t it? No matter how much time you spend preparing yourself [1] and going through various questions while having multiple answers in your mind just before you enter those scary office doors, all thoughts can just vanish out of your mind when you hear a question you’re unfamiliar with.

Well – all useful ones at least, because that is the moment when you’ll probably remember something that you didn’t know existed in your brain, or something extremely inappropriate to say out loud in front of a person who’s a potential employer. Well, don’t panic, there are ways to buy precious seconds and give yourself some time to come up with a quality answer.

The “Irresistible Compliment” Trick

No one is immune to compliments – they can either hide it well or not. Therefore, when you hear a question that makes your confidence go down the drain, you should perhaps try and influence your interviewer’s ego just a bit.

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So, my suggestion is to go with something like “Well that’s certainly one clever question I have never heard before, so I better try and come up with an equally smart response,” and I’m sure your interviewer will at least give you a sign of a smile. Other than buying some time, you’ll also manage to brighten up the whole atmosphere.

The Art of Paraphrasing

This is the oldest trick in the book, but it can be quite efficient if you know how to pull it off. Now, repeating the whole question word after word will make the thing you’re trying to do very obvious, so you should breathe in and mix up some words.

A question like “How would your presence contribute to our business?” can be turned into “Ah, so you’d like to know how me being an employee in your company would be beneficial for the future development of your business.” It takes some time to master word play and it can be a bit challenging if you’re not naturally good at it, but investing time into it will definitely pay off.

Question Can Be An Answer

Take that same question for example – explaining in which way you can contribute to a business.[2] I keep fixating on that one because it’s usually the most difficult one to answer with a creative question that will make you stand out from the crowd.

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If you want to get a couple of seconds more so that you can estimate what would be the right answer, you should hit your interviewer with a question and present them with something like “I am familiar with the job description I’m applying for, but can you tell me about some unusual challenges I’ll be faced with? That way, I can tell you whether my skills can make your business prosper.”

Asking for Clarification Helps (A Lot)

If a question sounds illogical to you, perhaps it really is. The whole process of being at an interview puts an interviewee in a subordinated position and, although this probably won’t be true because it’s highly professionally immoral, some interviewers can misuse their position.

Therefore, if you don’t understand the purpose of answering a particular question, you should simply ask what’s its point, but do so politely – “Help me out a bit here. In order to answer your question properly, can you please tell me what is the purpose of your question, so that I can provide you with a satisfying answer?” Some questions, like the one regarding which type of fruit you’d like to be, can be a thinker.

Return on It Later

You’re only human and so is your interviewer. It’s nothing unusual for you to require some time in order to come to an answer in your mind, which is why it won’t be at all inappropriate to politely ask your interviewer if it would be fine with them to get back to that particular question later on.

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Being on an interview is very similar to doing a test, and I’m absolutely sure that you leave the questions you find confusing or difficult to answer for when you’re done with those you’re absolutely sure of.

Return to the Previous

Have you ever went on a rollercoaster ride? Well, if you did, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a lot like an interview – some parts of the ride can give you an ecstatic boost, while others can frighten you and shake up your very core.

Well why not try to go back to the fun parts? If you managed to complete your previous answer with flying colors, you should make a digression after you hear a question you don’t really know how to answer and add another segment to your previous answer while you’re thinking about the one you find confusing.

Honesty Is Highly Appreciated

Considering the fact that respect towards professional ethics[3] will be desirable in every office and without regard for which job position you’re applying for, you can simply be straightforward and tell your interviewer that you’re caught off guard and that you need some time to come up with an answer.

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It’s true that resourcefulness is a highly appreciated skill, but the truth is that not everyone responds to working under pressure properly, which is something that the person sitting in front of you is very well aware of. Therefore, if you’re not a word play master, or you can’t think clearly when you’re under pressure, my final suggestion is to be honest.

Nevertheless, you should prepare yourself for every interview properly. Make sure to get enough rest the night before and do your best to put stress and panic aside so that you can actually be satisfied with your performance. There are many ways to calm your mind before a meeting – things like breathing exercises and nutritious foods will most definitely be helpful. Good luck!

Reference

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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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