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3 tricky tasks at the job interview and some advice on how to survive them

The era of questions like ‘Why would you like to work for us?’ and ‘What relevant work experience do you have?’ is long gone. With the increase in labour supply, employers are forced to raise the bar. But is there a good strategy for the tasks that might seem impossible to solve?

Imagine that the big day arrives and you knock on the door of the office where your job interview is to take place full of confidence – only one more step until you land your dream job. You have thoroughly memorised every detail about the company’s history, you know all of their products by heart and since you graduated only a few months ago, there are no professional questions you would not be able to answer. However, when he time finally comes for you to enter the office, you are confronted with strange puzzles and improvisational challenges that you have to solve in a group.


With the constant increase in labour supply, the fact that somebody has an excellent professional background counts as nothing special anymore and has become a pre-requisite for being invited for an interview. Therefore, employers often decide to evaluate applicants based on skills that are hard to predict from someone’s CV: on their problem-solving skills, on how they can handle stress and how efficiently they are able to work in a team. And to test these skills, they will not refrain from resorting to the trickiest of strategies.


Let’s look at some of the tasks that might be waiting for you in the future as well:


  1. The boss as the stress-meter


Most of you will have already heard stories from friends about the rude way their potential employers treated them during the job interviews, which made them stand up and leave. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases they are not aware of the fact that it is only a part of the employee’s strategy, during which they would like to collect information about the applicants’ reaction to stressful and unpleasant situations. This kind of test is the most common in the case of positions where the successful candidate will be dealing with complaints, because these jobs require one to keep calm even if deep inside they are just about to explode.


Therefore, if you encounter a situation like this during the interview, do not take it personally! It is important to give diplomatic answers, avoid personal remarks and never raise your voice. Instead, stay kind and polite! However, if you are really upset by the examiner’s behaviour, it is worth taking a moment to think about whether this position is really ideal for you and if you will be able to handle it on the long run.


  1. Group power


Group interviews are enjoying immense popularity especially in the English-speaking world. What happens in this case is that 3-5 applicants are invited at the same time and they are given tasks that they have to solve together. Although at the beginning of the task, they are normally given the same instructions, during the task they will adopt a role (e.g. leader, executive, time-manager) in order to successfully complete it. This will give important feedback to the employer about who feels most comfortable with which role. Moreover, it will show which applicants are good at teamwork and who will take an active role in group tasks.


If you are given such a task at the job interview, it is important to show off your strength, but it is better not to take on tasks that you would not be happy doing in your everyday life just to show yourself in a better light. Furthermore, keep in mind that nobody likes eager beavers! By having a comment to add to every single topic and by wanting to do everything yourself, you will not be a more likeable employee – on the contrary! Give space for the others to do their share as you will not be doing everything on your on in real life either!


  1. Mission impossible


Probably the most cruel one of all the strategies is the one that is often applied when selecting candidates for the most competitive jobs in the US. What happens here is that at the beginning of the interview, the interviewees are given a puzzle to solve that they have to present the solution to at the end of the interview. However, it is only the selection committee that knows that there is, in fact, no correct answers to the questions. This strategy is usually used to test the effect of growing stress on the performance of the applicants.


If you believe that you are being tricked, instead of panicking, make sure to admit honestly that you were not able to find a solution. A calm candidate who is able to focus on their answers is bound to make a better impression than one who keeps losing focus in order to get one step closer to the solution.


You got scared after reading about the above methods? You have nothing to worry about! By knowing about these strategies and what each of them is testing, you are already one step closer to the successful job interview! If you already have an appointment for the interview, best of luck! However, if you are still searching, you might want to have a look at these pages as well: EURESJobinfo és


Kép: Gangplank HQ


Judit Molnár



Published: Mon, 24/08/2015 - 23:42

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