What is one piece of advice on how to tackle brain teaser questions in an internship interview?
To help you make the best impression when interviewing, we asked founders and other leaders familiar with interview brain teasers this question for their best recommendations. From thinking outside the box to sharing your process, there are several insights that may increase your likelihood of answering a complex question in an interview well and impressing the hiring manager.
Here are nine ways these thought leaders suggest for tackling interview brain teasers:
- Take Your Time and Think Outside of the Box
- Be Different and Draw a Picture
- Answer in a Way that Controls the Interview Direction
- Show Off Your Best Troubleshooting Skills
- Practice to Expand Knowledge and Skills
- Seek Clarity On Unclear Points Along the Way
- Ask to Repeat the Question
- Consider, Simplify, and Think Through
- Share Your Process as You Work
Take Your Time and Think Outside of the Box
Take your time answering these questions rather than worrying too much about how quickly you answer them. After all, these questions require thinking outside the box, which can take some time.
It is better to take longer to respond and give a thoughtful, accurate answer than to respond quickly and give an answer which is not correct or as impressive.
Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO, Nurse Practitioner, Skin Pharm
Be Different and Draw a Picture
If someone asks you a brain teaser question in an interview, the purpose is to see how you think. Most people will figure out the problem verbally. Some of them will perform well and others will not. But you can stand out by doing something different from most other people.
Start by mapping out the problem on a piece of paper. Then draw a diagram or something else that illustrates how you think, in conjunction with your verbal response. Putting the problem on paper will make it easier for you to come up with your answer, and it also shows that you can use several modalities in solving a problem.
Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing & Leadership Consultant, Snackable Solutions
Answer in a Way that Controls the Interview Direction
Answer trick interview questions by putting the conversation back on comfortable ground. Many prospective interns are understandably nervous about interviewing.
Trying to plant the beginning seeds of a career means that one does not have much interview experience. An employer’s trick interview questions can especially stump prospective interns.
Addressing the question while steering the conversation back to a more comfortable subject is a good way to show confidence and communication skills. Answer trick questions in a way that still allows you to direct the conversation.
Sean Doherty, GM, Box Genie
Show Off Your Best Troubleshooting Skills
When you think your brain doubles as Google hearing brain teaser questions, don’t panic. Show your creativity!
Having countless interviews with each candidate, I advise being creative and practicing the ability to deal with difficult situations. Candidates must think “out of the box” and deliver the answer calmly and collectedly.
We may ask them to solve certain logical and tricky problems to discover their analytical thinking skills and assess whether they are a good fit for the company. Surely, we don’t always expect the answers to be all correct, just logical.
Even though we try to decrease brain teasers, it sometimes helps us brush up on problem-solving capabilities.
As an SEO company, we face many tricky situations; we are much more interested in your problem-solving skills than in knowing how you would personally fight a bear. Be who you are and show your best problem-tackling skills.
Maria Harutyunyan, Head of SEO, Loopex Digital
Practice to Expand Knowledge and Skills
Brain teaser questions can be shocking and tricky. It can rattle the mind and cause panic without enough preparation. The efficient way to prepare yourself for these types of questions is to practice.
Unlike the saying “practice makes perfect,” practicing won’t make you ace brain teaser questions. However, practice can make you expand your problem-solving and decision-making knowledge and skills.
You can analyze different situations and test your wits by researching sample questions. Going through various teasers helps your mind familiarize itself with such circumstances. This technique lessens anxiousness and nervousness during an interview.
Laura Martinez, Consultant & Content Writer, PersonalityMax
Seek Clarity On Unclear Points Along the Way
The first step in tackling a brain teaser is to dispel your worries by seeking clarifications. Speaking out loud will help you organize your ideas and enable the interviewer to assess your thought process.
Additionally, if it’s clear that you are heading in the incorrect direction, the interviewer is more inclined to provide a suggestion. Just as important as the solution itself is the approach you used to arrive at it.
Because of this, answering a brain teaser incorrectly is not the largest offense you can commit. Rather, it is panicking and mumbling an answer without first explaining to the interviewer how you arrived at that answer.
Grant Barra, Founder, Operations Executive & Investor, RELI Exchange
Ask to Repeat the Question
This will give you more time to come up with a thoughtful answer. Remember, they want to see how your brain thinks, so don’t worry so much about coming up with the right answer, but justify your reasoning behind whatever answer you come up with.
Giving yourself a little more time to answer the question will help you answer the question in a more effective way.
Scott Krager, Founder, TubeSplit.com
Consider, Simplify, and Think Through
Don’t be afraid to pause and ease into your response.
Part of this exercise is to offer a clear and calculated answer that takes into consideration your problem-solving capabilities, critical thinking depth, analytic skills, creativity, ability to think on your feet, ability to perform under pressure, and the perceived ease at which these thought processes are happening.
Be relaxed, make it look easy, be calculated, and don’t be afraid to apply wit to your response.
James Scott, Founder, Embassy Row Project
Share Your Process as You Work
When you’re interviewing for an internship, part of what the hiring manager or recruiter wants to see is how you work through challenges. It’s less about the answer and more about the process you took to get there.
So, rather than trying to work it all out in your head, invite the interviewer to go through the puzzle-solving journey with you. Let them know you’re going to work through your answer aloud so they can get a glimpse of how your mind operates. Then, do just that.
Talk through each step as you think about it, understanding that it’s alright to change course. You’ll quickly impress the person on the other side of the table (or screen, or phone).
Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed