If you are on the market for a new job, you have probably thought about, discussed with friends, and rehearsed answers to probable interview questions. You know the routine: What’s your greatest strength? Answer: I’m a hard worker. Or, I’m a team player. Or, I’m loyal. Or, choose any other of the usual cliches.
What’s your greatest weakness? Answer: I tend toward being a perfectionist. Or, some people think I’m a bit of a workaholic. Or, I don’t always use all of my vacation time. Any good interviewer hears many of these same things over and over again.
Some interviewers, though, are creative. Their questions may surprise you, and you will have to think “on your feet.” Following are a couple of questions that candidates were actually asked when applying for professional positions.
1. What is your favorite song and why? (You may have prepared for your favorite book, but few people have a ready answer for a favorite song.)
2. Explain what you do for self-care.
3. If you were going to convince a friend that she should not work for our company, what would you say to dissuade her?
4. What have you done in the past six months for self-improvement?
5. Give an example of a failure and how you recovered from it. Give another example of a failure and how you recovered from it. Give an example of a third failure and how you recovered from it. (You probably didn’t rehearse three examples—would you be stuck?)
6. What would make you a loyal employee?
7. What do you like least about our company? (Note, the answer that you like everything is not acceptable.)
8. Take a minute or two to look out the window at that building next door. How tall do you estimate it to be? (That question was asked of a young woman applying for a research position job. She guessed some ridiculous number. She did not get the job. Note to self: count the number of windows from bottom to top and multiply by 10.)
9. Give an example of something you did recently that really scared you?
10. You are one of three final candidates. The other two candidates have more experience. What should we hire you?
Ask friends for examples of unusual questions they have gotten, and think about how you would have responded. Never pass up the opportunity for a job interview. The experience and the knowledge you gain about yourself is invaluable. No matter how difficult the questions, and whether or not you get the job, no interview is ever wasted.