Preparing for an interview is your secret weapon to success. Of course, this includes the obvious prep including researching the company, preparing answers to commonly asked questions, and writing out three or four thoughtful questions to ask. But what if your interviewer asks you an off-the-wall question?
Being caught off guard is the quickest way to derail an interview. Potential employers ask oddball questions to learn more about you as a person, your ability to think on your feet, and solve problems. I even heard of a group interview where teams of three worked together to support a glass of water using three cups and three knives.
Keep in mind that the purpose of an interview is not only to assess your skills and ability to do the job but to also evaluate whether you will make a good fit within the company.
I will show you how to ace interview questions and answers – even the oddballs.
Answering behavioral interview questions. These questions are designed to get a glimpse into past behaviors as it relates specifically to work. An example might be: Tell me about a time at work when your project didn’t go as planned. Interviewers are trying to learn three things:
- How you behaved in the real world.
- What value you added to the situation.
- How you define something such as “pressure at work.”
To answer behavioral questions, you need to tell a success story that highlights a quality or competency that you possess. Because you cannot possibly prepare for every question that might be thrown your way, focus on having two types of success stories ready. The first is one should apply to most types of behavioral questions. You should expect to see questions pertaining to teamwork, problem solving, interpersonal skills, and challenge or pressure related questions. The second type of success story to prepare is one that applies specifically to the role and/or company. Do your homework to find out what qualities the company values and craft your success stories to highlight those.
Answering brainteaser interview questions. These questions don’t have real answers. They’re asked to see how you would handle an obscure scenario. The interviewer is trying to uncover your process. It is not as important to get it “right” but to explain how you would work through the problem to reach a solution. You want to focus on your approach, finding an answer, and detailing your process for getting to the answer. Again, don’t focus on the correct response – focus on the process. Is your thinking sound?
Answering quirky questions. If you’re asked a question such as, “If you were a superhero who would you be and why,” have fun with your response. The employer wants to understand your personality to determine whether you’ll fit into their company culture. Here are some examples of quirky questions you might be asked:
- What type of animal would you be and why?
- What would you want more – to be invisible or to fly?
- What is the most fascinating thing about life?
- Tell me about your best Houdini moment.
Along with being prepared to ace interview questions and answers, you also need to bring your own questions with you. Your questions need to relate to the position or the company. These questions should tell the employer you’re interested in more than just the role. They should also answer some basic questions you want to know before accepting a position. Here are three questions to ask:
- What one new skill are you hoping your next employee brings to the table?
- How do you measure success for this role?
- What are some of the mistakes made in this role, and how can I avoid those?
As an informed and prepared interviewee, you’re ready to ace your next interview.
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