Hiring managers are like the rest of us: they find ways to save time. These are some interview questions that are designed to trick you to get the answer the hiring manager wants right away. At Worlco, we are trained to prepare you to beat these questions to get the job you want! Worlco staff believe interview preparation is key, and we work hard to make sure you will feel comfortable to answer every question the hiring manager throws at you.
No. 1: Why have you been out of work so long, and how many others were laid off?
This question may also be followed by the more direct, "Why were you
laid off?" Kennedy says it is an attempt to figure out if there's
something wrong with you that your former company or that other
potential employers have already discovered. The interviewer may be
trying to determine if themes of recession and budget cuts were used to
dump second-string employees, including you. Rather than answering the
question directly and chancing an emotional response or
misinterpretation, Kennedy advises punting. Respond: "I don't know the
reason. I was an excellent employee who gave more than a day's work for a
No. 2: If employed, how do you manage time for interviews?
"The real question is whether you are lying to and short-changing
your current employer while looking for other work," says Kennedy. The
interviewer may wonder: If you're cheating on your current boss, why
wouldn't you later cheat on me? She suggests placing the emphasis on why
you're interested in this position by saying you're taking personal
time and that you only interview for positions that are a terrific
match. If further interviews are suggested, Kennedy advises mentioning
that the search is confidential and asking to schedule follow-ups
outside of normal working hours.
No. 3: How did you prepare for this interview?
The intention of this question is to decipher how much you really
care about the job or if you're simply going through the motions or
winging it. Kennedy says the best way to answer is by saying, "I very
much want this job, and of course researched it starting with the
company website." Beyond explaining how you've done your homework, show
it. Reveal your knowledge of the industry, company or department by
asking informed questions and commenting on recent developments.
No. 4: Do you know anyone who works for us?
This one really is a tricky question, says Kennedy, because most
interviewees expect that knowing someone on the inside is always a good
thing. "Nothing beats having a friend deliver your resume to a hiring
manager, but that transaction presumes the friend is well thought of in
the company," she says. Because the interviewer will likely associate
the friend's characteristics and reputation with your merits, she
recommends only mentioning someone by name if you're certain of their
positive standing in the organization.
No. 5: Where would you really like to work?
"The real agenda for this question is assurance that you aren't
applying to every job opening in sight," says Kennedy. She advises never
mentioning another company by name or another job title because you
want to highlight all the reasons you're perfect for this job and that
you'll give it all of your attention if achieved. A good response would
be: "This is where I want to work, and this job is what I want to do."
[Also see: In-Demand Careers Through 2018]
No. 6: What bugs you about coworkers or bosses?
Don't fall into this trap. Kennedy says you always want to present
yourself as optimistic and action-oriented, and hiring managers may use
this question to tease out whether you'll have trouble working with
others or could drag down workplace morale and productivity. "Develop a
poor memory for past irritations," she advises. Reflect for a few
seconds, and then say you can't recall anything in particular. Go on to
compliment former bosses for being knowledgeable and fair and commend
past coworkers for their ability and attitude. It will reveal your
positive outlook and self-control and how you'll handle the social
dynamics in this position.
No. 7: Can you describe how you solved a work or school problem?
Kennedy says that, really, no one should be too taken aback by this,
as it's one of the most basic interview questions and should always be
anticipated. However, all too often interviewees either can't come up
with something on the spot or miss the opportunity to highlight their
best skills and attributes. Kennedy says what the interviewer really
wants is insight into how your mind works. Have an answer ready, like
how you solved time management issues in order to take on a special
assignment or complicated project, that showcases an achievement.
No. 8: Can you describe a work or school instance in which you messed up?
This one is a minefield. "One question within the question is whether
you learn from your mistakes or keep repeating the same errors," says
Kennedy. Similarly, the interviewer may be trying to glean whether
you're too self-important or not self-aware enough to take
responsibility for your failings. Perhaps even more problematic, if you
answer this question by providing a list of all your negative traits or
major misdeeds, then you're practically spelling out your insecurities
and guaranteeing you won't get the job. So you don't want to skirt the
question or make yourself look bad. "Briefly mention a single small,
well-intentioned goof and follow up with an important lesson learned
from the experience," she advises.
No. 9: How does this position compare with others you're applying for?
"The intent is to gather intel on the competitive job market or get a
handle on what it will take to bring you on board," says Kennedy. There
are two directions to take: Coy or calculated. "You can choose a
generic strategy and say you don't interview and tell, and respect the
privacy of any organization where you interview," she notes. Or you
could try to make yourself appear in demand by confirming you've
received another competitive offer, which may up the bidding for your
services. Always bring the focus back to this position, by asking: "Have
I found my destination here?"
No. 10: If you won the lottery, would you still work?
Admittedly, this one's a little silly. Even so, it's another
opportunity to underscore your motivation and work ethic. Kennedy
advises acknowledging that you'd be thrilled to win the lottery but
would still look for meaningful work because meeting challenges and
achieving make you happy. And say it with a straight face.
If at any point in an interview you're uncertain or caught off guard,
don't panic, Kennedy warns. Deflect a question by saying you'd like to
mull it over and come back to it, or by being honest that you don't know
the answer and, as a careful worker, would prefer not to guess. "If
you've otherwise done a good job of answering questions and confidently
explained why you're a great match for the position," she says, "the
interviewer probably won't consider your lack of specifics on a single
topic to be a deal breaker."
by Jenna Goudreau