Trick Interview Question: Can You Bake Me a Cake?
I just had to write a quick post to let you all know about an intriguing trick interview question and the trick to answering it!
I was talking to an IT Director who said that he was asked this question when he was applying, earlier in his career, for a position managing a Help Desk. He was offered the job on the basis of his answer. The hiring authority told him other candidates failed to answer this question in a way that would convince him that they had an innate sense of customer service - that is, a natural tendency to deliver top-notch answers, support, and solutions.
How did my client answer?
A brilliant answer that showed that his first instinct was to determine the needs of the customer. Other people may have answered: "Yes, I know how to bake a cake," or "If I have a recipe," or "Only if I have the ingredients," or "I'm not that good at baking cakes."
Companies use so-called "trick" questions to uncover qualities in a candidate that straightforward interview questions cannot. Candidates are pretty savvy as to what the interviewer is looking for when asking a question. Questions like the one my client was asked is less easy to "game."
So, how can you be prepared to answer a question that seems to come out of left field? Take a minute to think before you answer. It's OK to do that, even to ask, "Please give me a minute." Consider what core skills are required by the job. How does the question relate? Is it analogous to what you would be doing on the job? What answer could you give that would translate over to the job in question?
This tip may help - or not. Giving the right answer also may not indicate who is best for the job. I can imagine a person who gives the right answer to a trick question might be someone who has a particularly "creative divergent" thinking style, rather than someone with the core skill supposedly being tested.
But if you take a minute, you may be able to "psyche out" the real question behind the question!
PS I can bake a chocolate cake. But only with a recipe and the right ingredients. I'm not so good at white cakes. Why would you want a cake? What's that have to do with anything. I love cake! JC