You're nearing the end of a job interview, when the interviewer suddenly throws you a curveball.

"With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes."

Man tying a shoe. Photo by Shelbey Fordyce on Unsplash

An interviewer doesn't ask the question because they don't know how to tie their shoelaces, of course!

Rather, they want to see how you formulate the answer and how you communicate.

Since you know how to tie your shoes already — you just need a structure for explaining it.

Think Of Your Audience

For example, if your interviewer is more the pragmatic type, try breaking down your reply into a series of steps:

  1. Sitting down, reach for the laces on one shoe and take the left one in your left hand and the right one in your right.

  2. Cross one lace over the other one, then tuck it under.

  3. Pull both to tighten and repeat with the other shoe.

It's like a recipe, only for tying shoes.

Three steps in making pancakes

Think Of The Role You're Applying For

Flaticon Icon If you're applying for a technical role, you could simply say:

I'll show and tell you how to do it first, then you can try. Watch me.

Flaticon Icon Or if you're applying to be a teacher, consider this common rhyme:

Over, under, pull it tight

Make a bow

Pull it through to do it right

Take Action

Start by thinking of your audience first.

Remember, it may not be the answer itself they're interested in, but the way in which you answer the question.

Pragmatic --> would be best served by an answer in the form of steps.

A staircase outdoors, with way lines moving up the steps Photo by Debby Urken on Unsplash

Creative --> may prefer visual cues or the use of analogies.

A Rubik's cube Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Try it:

Check out these Bytes for more on how to respond to tricky interview questions:

"Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?"

"Which animal best describes you on the job?"


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