Tricky Interview Questions: Sabotage or Opportunity

Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses? Just about anyone on the job market has been asked some variation of this question. In a recent article, compiled a list of 19 tricky interview questions. These are not traditional “trick questions” designed to trick you into giving the wrong response. Hiring managers craft these interview questions in a way that invites you to reveal additional information about your personal characteristics and work habits beyond the direct meaning of the question. In short, these questions provide an opportunity to demonstrate why you are the right person for the job, and to completely sabotage yourself during the interview process.


These trick questions can be broken down into three categories: Open-ended interview questions, Achievement-oriented interview questions, and Conflict-Oriented interview questions. Utilize the strategies below for crafting your response to a hiring manager’s trick question.


Open-ended Interview Questions:

Perhaps the most obvious and common example of this type of questions is “Can you tell me about yourself?” If you have a tendency to overthink your responses to open-ended questions like this, CEO, J.T. O’Donnell, recommends following this strategy:

Problem – Describe a problem you are great at solving for customers or employers.

Process – Explain the methodology you consistently use to solve the problem.

Passion – Tell them what steps you will take to further develop your skill set in this area


Achievement-oriented and Conflict-oriented Interview Questions:

These questions often refer to a specific situation such as “What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?” And “Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a company policy and how did you handle it.” It is important to provide concrete examples in your responses to these questions. Using the SOAR story format below allows you to provide a concise response, highlighting your strengths without disclosing any information hiring managers may view as a red flag.

Situation – Describe the situation.

Obstacle – Describe the obstacles you faced in achieving your goal.

Action – Describe the actions you took to achieve your goal.

Response – Describe the result of your actions.

For more information on navigating the interview process, read AthLife’s article Honesty is the Best Policy: What Not to Say on Job Interviews. Contact your AthLife Advisor to tailor your responses for your upcoming job interview using these strategies.