We’ve all been there! There are some typical interview questions, and then there are questions that are just, well, a bit unexpected – sometimes weird to put it mildly, or on the borderline to be deemed as stupid.
While there’s no way to read the mind of an interviewer, we provide a pointer to the next best course of action — the most frequently asked interview questions, and creative answers to turn the tide in your favor!
Question 1: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
This question may turn you off. Many consider this blatantly insulting. Even the interviewer knows that it can adversely affect a candidate’s mindset. That’s precisely the reason it is asked so frequently.
How to Answer?
- My current job has me do a lot of things myself so my delegation skills are bit rusty.
- Skill based: I haven’t yet worked with the latest version of Excel so I might need some time to get familiar with it.
- Personal: I’ve been told by a few of my friends that I can be quite the talker.
Don’t forget to mention that you’ll work on getting better.
Pro Tip: Stand like a Superhero for a few minutes before the interview
According to a paper published by the Harvard Business School, standing like a Superhero for a few minutes before an evaluation like an interview can do wonders to your confidence. It goes on to explain that doing so increases the feeling of power and confidence thereby producing more testosterone (the power hormone) and reducing cortisol (the stress hormone).
So go ahead — stand up straight, push your chest out, arms on your hips and gaze up confidently to the sky.
Question 2: Why are You Looking for a Change?
Never ever bad-mouth your employer. If you talk bad about your current employer, it sends a message that you’ll do the same again. The interviewer is trying to catch you off guard here.
How to Answer?
The key here is to employ a diversion tactic. You can focus on showing your dedication towards career progression. Tell them that your current role is not challenging enough to bring the best out of you. State that you are looking forward to develop your skill-set to take up new and exciting challenges.
Question 3: Why Should We Hire You?
This is a question that prompts you to blow your own trumpet – “I’m smart, hard-working, intelligent and blah blah blah.”
Try this instead
- I have skill and abilities you are looking for and I will use them to the fullest extent to be an asset to this company.
Now this might seem like a canned response but it is what the interviewer wants to hear. But don’t stop here, get into the details. Tell your interviewer that the conversation (that both of you just had) should have given a great deal of insight on your abilities.
Pro Tip: Try to get an early interview
If you are ever asked to choose the time, it is best to go with the morning hours. This is the time the interview is relatively relaxed and probably hasn’t seen other candidates, so he/she is likely to give you complete attention.
This has some physiological benefit and it’s called the “Primacy Effect“. According to it, the interviewer is more likely to remember you if you were the first in the line of many candidates.
Question 4: How did You Learn About the Opening?
While it doesn’t look like a tricky question, it gets asked in interviews quite often. This question is usually asked to ascertain whether a candidate is following a particular company closely. It’s your turn to convince the employer that you are particularly interested to work here.
How to Answer?
If you’ve been referred by someone within the organization, let the interviewer know. Reference can do wonders, so don’t be afraid to play the referral card. You could also tell them that you have subscribed to the job feed in their career portal. It sends the message that you are following the company closely and have a strong desire to work for them.
Question 5: Why Do You Want this Job?
Well, Duh! Why would someone look for job? Of course to make ends meet, right? But the employers are not concerned about your personal struggles. They are particularly interested in hiring candidates who would perfectly fit the offered vacancy.
Try this instead
Tell them that the job requirements are a perfect fit for the skill-set that you bring to the table. You can achieve your career goals and help the organization towards the path of success at the same time. Stress upon the mutual benefit factor to present a strong case on your behalf.
Question 6: Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
To be frank, it’s an unrealistic question considering today’s dynamic job market. Does the company know where it will stand in next five years? Yet this question invariably comes up in almost all interviews. Why? This question is typically aimed at evaluating how the candidates can sell them.
How to Answer?
You need to tailor your responses to include the company. You could try something like — “I’m really passionate about this field so I hope to be doing the same but I do want be promoted and lead a team within the company.”
Question 7: What’s the Lowest Salary that You Would Accept?
Beware! This is a known trick to force candidates into devaluing their credentials. It’s a double-edged sword. If you overprice yourself, it can knock you out of the contest, while underestimation can force you to accept undeserving offers.
What do you do?
Throw the ball back to the interviewer’s court. Don’t be lured to mention any particular figure. Instead tell them that you are willing to negotiate if they are making a firm offer.
Doing your research on sites like PayScale, Glassdoor can give you a fair idea on the salary range that your skills, experience and education attract. If the interviewer insists, then go with the highest amount within that range. Don’t forget to mention that you are flexible and willing to negotiate. That will deliver the message that you know your skills are valuable, yet the job interests you and you are willing to adapt.
Question 8: How Do You Handle Stress and Pressure?
First off, never claim that you don’t experience work-related stress. This not only is unbelievable, but may also indicate that you have worked only in low-pressure environments.
The best way to answer this question is by dishing out relevant examples. Do acknowledge the stress factor and explain what measures you have taken to overcome it. You can even use it to your advantage by concluding that it’s the high pressure situation that motivates you to bring out your best.
Pro Tip: Use body mirroring to build trust
You see someone yawn and in a minute or so you do too. Body mirroring is similar but goes beyond yawning — they smile, you smile; they use hand gestures, you follow. Body mirroring happens subconsciously when among friends and family, the people you love and trust. Think of it as you brain saying “He/She is behaving just like me, we must be similar”.
Question 9: What Will You Add to Our Team?
Avoid the usual – “I am a hard worker and team player” stuff. The interviewer does this regularly and has probably heard every other variation of this answer.
Do this instead,
Get straight to it, say “The job requirements and my skills are a perfect match. It needs me to do the following things and I am really good at it. If faced with a problem I am not the one to give up easily and I will strive till the problem is fixed”.
Question 10: What Do You Do in Your Spare Time?
From a rational perspective, your employer has no business in knowing how you spend your day outside the working hours. This is asked to determine if your activities outside of work could cause trouble to the company.
So, what do you do?
- If you’re a member of a political or religious outfit, DO NOT mention that.
- Tell them you are trying to learn relevant skills during off hours that could possibly help in doing your job more effectively. For example, if you are a web developer tell them you are learning graphic designing or digital marketing.
Question 11: How Would Your Previous Boss Rate You?
Do keep in mind that some companies call up your ex-boss to gather details about you, so proceed with caution.
What do you do?
Sing praises! Never ever bad mouth your boss. Mention all the times your boss praised you for the work you did.
However, if you want to spice things up go with “We had our share of disagreements but we always worked things out in the end”.
Pro Tip: Make a habit of writing down every professional achievement
Every time you do a good job or hit a target, write it down. You wont believe how easy it is to forget these things. It will come handy the next time you give an interview or even during a performance review.
Question 12: Why are Manhole Covers Round?
What? A question about sewage? Who does that? Turns out, Microsoft and a few others who picked it up from them. The reasoning behind this bizarre question is to assess your problem solving skills and creativity.
They are looking for creativity so try to come up with your own answers. If squat is what you got, go with these:
- So it doesn’t fall into the hole. A square or rectangular shaped one could fall if placed at a wrong angle.
- The round shape makes it easy and safe to move around.
- The round shape means lesser area, so lower manufacturing cost.
Question 13: What Do You Think We Could Do Better or Differently?
This is asked to figure out whether you’ve done your home work about the company that you are looking to work for.
How to Answer?
The interviewer doesn’t expect you to figure out the company’s next four-year strategy, but point out little things that could make a difference. For example, at my last interview for a web developers position I suggested that the company website be made accessible to help people with disabilities.
Pro Tip: Learn about the company beforehand
This is an important task yet only a few people do it. Think about it this way — You’re interviewing for job that if selected, will take a few years of your professional life — wouldn’t you want to know more about it? Start with the company website and begin with the about page; read up on the company history, the founders, current management and its culture.
Question 14: Why Did You Choose This Career Path?
This is obviously asked to figure out if you are satisfied with your current choice of career.
How to Answer?
Tell them a story from your childhood that served as the motivation for taking up a career in this particular field. For example, ever since my dad bought me a remote controlled racing car I’ve always been fascinated with electronics, and this passion of mine took me to the field of Electrical Engineering.
Question 15: Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
It would be no less than a crime to waste this opportunity. Even if you’ve haven’t been asked, go ahead and politely ask a question or two that involves them. People love to talk about themselves, it makes them happy. This makes them walk away from the interview in a happy mood as they got to talk about themselves and might attribute it you, making you stand out. This is a goldmine of a psychological trick that can turn the tide in your favor.
Questions you could ask:
- What’s your favorite part about working here?
- What does a typical day at work here look like?
- What do you think about the company culture here?
- How has your experience been in this company?
- How were your first days in this company?
Successful interviews are all about being prepared to face a barrage of questions and respond with smart answers. You need to think out of the box to impress the interviewer.
At the end of the day, remember one thing – if they don’t hire you, then that’s because you deserve better! Never lose heart, failures are a part of life. Your skill, passion, commitment and attitude will eventually help you in getting what you truly deserve!