Bagg Group’s best tip for answering a tough question


At The Bagg Group, we’re renowned for our rigorous in-depth interviews of candidates — but there’s rigorous and then there’s outrageously tough!

In the US, about 17,000 job-hunters answer an annual online survey to determine which companies hold the most challenging interviews.  For the third year in a row, the consulting firm McKinsey& Company was rated as the most gruelling of all.

Those who try out for a position of business analyst with McKinsey say they have to jump through mental hoops to answer such questions as, “How would you calculate the annual carbon emissions from electric versus gas vehicles in the European Union?”

But fear not the tough question.  At The Bagg Group, we’ve placed people with the best companies in the GTA for more than 40 years, and we have a secret we share with all our candidates.  When interviewers throw you a curveball question, their focus isn’t on the answer – they’re simply listening to find out how you think when faced with a problem to solve.

When we refer our candidates for full-time positions, contract work or temporary placements, we too want to be sure that they have the problem-solving skills that fit with the employer’s needs.

So here’s a key tip if you’re asked a difficult brain-teaser of a question in an interview:

Don’t get flustered – get logical

  • Don’t worry about knowing the answer.  Instead, think out loud about the steps you would take to arrive at one.
  • For example, you might want to tell the interviewer what info you would need to know in order to come up with the answer. You might also mention what you would do to find that information.

A tough interview can take you by surprise, but it has its advantages.  About 77% of those who interviewed for a position with McKinsey said they enjoyed the experience, despite the difficulty.

Plus, those reported a high rate of job satisfaction.  They say they thrive working with a company that recognizes and likes the way they think.

So consider the tough interview less of a stressful challenge and more as a chance.

You never know who will ask you what in an interview.  But here’s the list of the top 10 companies in the US which you can count on to throw you an oddball question (according to the survey) :

  1. McKinsey & Company
  2. ThoughtWorks
  3. Boston Consulting Group
  4. Gartner
  5. Bain & Company
  6. Rolls Royce
  7. ZS Associates
  8. Google
  9. Stryker
  10. HubSpot

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