The stuff of nightmares for jobseekers everywhere...
Glassdoor has been getting feedback from hundreds of thousands of jobseekers over the past year to compile their list of the toughest questions you could be asked in an interview in 2017.
The 20 hardest headscratchers people have come across when looking for employment in the areas of computing, accountancy, marketing, advertising and sales include several instances of interviewers taking a leftfield, existential approach and even manages to go one better (that is, worse) than the old "what is your biggest weakness?" query that everybody knows and loathes.
At the top of the list: "What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?"
A question apparently posed by healthcare software firm The Phoenix Partnership, the marketing and communications candidate who posted that advised other jobseekers:
"Say absolutely nothing is remotely close to a lie. They are trying to catch you out and if gave them anything I'm pretty sure they would string you up for it."
David Whitby, UK country manager with the company review website, said:
"We've scoured hundreds of thousands of interview questions faced by job candidates to find the toughest questions which would make anyone squirm.
"Preparing for an interview thoroughly means being ready for anything, even a curveball question not directly related to the job. Remember, it's not necessarily about getting the right answer, more how you cope under pressure."
Here's the top 20 in full...
20. "Tell me about your childhood" – Learning and Development Employee, Next
19. "Provide an estimate for the number of goals in the Premier League." – Management Accountant, VAX
18. "Are you a nice guy?" – Product Manager, Badoo
17. "What is your coping mechanism when you have a bad day?" – Consultant, Switch Consulting
16. "What does social justice mean to you?" – Content Marketing Manager, ThoughtWorks
15. "You have 50 red and 50 blue objects. Split these however you like between two containers to give the minimum/maximum probability of drawing one of the colours" – Operations Analyst, Clearwater Analytics
14. "What would you ask the CEO if you met him one day?" – Performance Analyst, British Airways
13. “What’s your the biggest regret managing people so far?” – Area Director, Regus
12. "Who is your hero, and why?" – Product Quality Employee, GE
11. “There are three people, each with different salaries, and they want to find the average of them without telling any of the other two their salary. How do they do it?" – Technical Delivery Graduate, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
10. "How would you describe cloud computing to a 7-year-old?" – Graduate Scheme, Microsoft
9. "How do you cope with repetition?" – Product Specialist, Tesla Motors
8. “Describe your biggest weakness. Then describe another.” – Forward Deployed Software Engineer, Palantir Technologies
7. "If your best friend was here what advice would he give you?" – CCP, American Express
6. "You are stranded on the moon with a group of other astronauts and you need to travel 200 miles back to base, here is a list of 15 items salvaged from the wreckage of the spacecraft you were travelling in. List them in order of importance." – Sales Employee, Turnstone Sales
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates
5. "What's the most selfish thing you've ever done?" – Graduate Consultant, PageGroup
4. “If you had a friend who was great for a job and an identical person who was just as good, but your friend earned you £2,000 less, who would you give the job to?” – Associate Recruitment Consultant, Hays plc
3. “How would your enemy describe you?” – Advertising Sales Grad Scheme, Condé Nast
2. "What am I thinking right now?" – Regional Director, TES Global
1. "What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?" – Marketing and Communications Employee, The Phoenix Partnership
If the prospect of all of that has you sweating bullets, it's worth remembering that the overwhelming odds are that you won't have to face one of those 20 when you're next discussing your CV across a desk.
Entrepreneur and Down to Business presenter Bobby Kerr has advice for people on both sides of the table. For those looking for a job, his key tips are:
1. Prepare – Take the time to know the company, the job and what you can contribute. This really shows in an interview
2. Timing – It might sound basic, but you'd be surprised! Give yourself more time than you need. Don’t arrive flustered!
3. First impressions – You only get one shot, so make the effort, dress well, make eye contact and put your best foot forward.
4. Be authentic – You’re nervous but do what you can to show your personality, your unique skills and what makes you a good candidate.
5. Don’t panic – Take your time when answering questions. Don’t panic and start babbling, especially if it’s a difficult question! Compose yourself, sometimes just taking an extra second can allow you to get your thoughts together and help you to answer the question as best you can.