By  Wed Feb 26, 2014

Ace the Most Common Job Interview Questions (and the Odd Ones)

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Preparing for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience. You don’t know what your interviewer is going to ask. You have to remember all the important points that you want to make. And you’ve got to do a good job of selling yourself without seeming too desperate or boastful.

There are ways to prepare. First, you’ve got to do your homework. Find out everything you can about the company you are interviewing for. Find out what the company wants and needs, so that you can better sell yourself. Come up with a list of points that you want to make during the interview. Prepare answers for questions you think the interviewer is likely to ask. Practice reciting these answers out loud if you think it will help.

To prepare you for your all-important interview, we’ve got some tips on how you can answer six of the most common — and most weird questions asked during an interview.

“Tell me about yourself”

OK, so it’s technically not a question. But you can bet you’ll likely be asked by your interviewer to say a few things about yourself. You don’t have time to recite your life story, but consider this an opportunity to share some of your personality.

Share a few meaningful details about your life — and also be sure to mention points that relate back to the job. As with any interview, it’s important to feel out the company, and let that inform how you will answer questions.

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

It’s easier to talk about your strengths. There are the typical things you might hear: you’re organized, a hard worker, team player, etc. That answer is completely fine, but try to identify a strength that might make you stand out more from the crowd. Think of a strength you have that might relate back to the job and list it among the more common answers people usually say.

It’s much more tricky to answer what your weaknesses are. Don’t say you have no weaknesses because that makes you seem arrogant. And don’t talk about a real weakness — unless it’s something that you have been able to improve and defeat. So if your weakness is that you talk too much on the job, say that you’ve worked on it and now know when to get to work and when to talk with colleagues. Plus, add in the fact that you’ve learned to develop strong speaking skills. Whatever your weakness is, be sure to clearly explain how you’ve managed to turn it around.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

The interviewer may ask you where you see yourself in the future, what you hope to do down the road — what they really want to know is whether the job you are interviewing for fits in with your career goals. They want to know that you aren’t just applying for the job because you need work.

They want to get a sense of your commitment to the job, that you can grow with the company. When you answer this question, show the interviewer that you’ve thought about your career and articulate how the position would help you develop professionally. Tell them you’re hopeful that you can be in a management position eventually and that you aim to move up the ladder at the company.

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

This is where your pre-interview research will pay off. With this question, the hiring manager is trying to determine your interest in the job. They want to see that you have done your research, that you will fit in with company culture, and that you are truly interested in the position.

You want to tell the interviewer what it is about this particular company that attracts you to it — and you don’t want to just spout out stock answers because it won’t help you stand out. So make sure to note — before the interview — what intrigues you about the company. Also, make sure that you articulate how the company will help you and how you can help them. Note: it’s not what you want to do at the company, it’s about what you can do, the skills you have to offer them.

“Give me an example of a time when you had a problem with a supervisor at work and what you did about it.”

The interviewer is trying to get a sense of your people skills with this question. They want to know how you handle adversity. Think about an answer beforehand and make sure that you explain how you were able to overcome the problem.

“What are your salary requirements?”

Try to avoid answering this question if at all possible because you don’t want to settle for less than what you might actually get paid. Say that you are really interested in the position and that you’re sure you can come up with something you and the employer will be happy with.

Most weird questions:

According to the website, Glassdoor, these are the top five oddball questions for 2014:

  • Asked at Zappos: “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?”
  • Asked at Airbnb: “How lucky are you and why?”
  • Asked at Apple: “If you were a pizza deliveryman, how would you benefit from scissors?”
  • Asked at Red Frog Events: “If you could sing one song on ‘American Idol,’ what would it be?”
  • Asked at Dell: “Are you more of a hunter or gatherer?”
  • Asked at Yahoo: “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?”

How do you handle an oddball question? Follow these steps:

  • Don’t question the inquiry itself. You don’t want to seem contrary or difficult by questioning why they are asking the question.
  • Take a minute to think about your answer. It’s OK to take a breath and gather your thoughts.
  • Consider why the interviewer might be asking the question. This might help inform the type of answer you want to give.
  • Demonstrate your thought process when you answer. The interviewer might be trying to assess the way you think — your thought process.
  • Don’t let it rattle you. You don’t want to give a short answer or say that you don’t know. The interviewer may be trying to get a sense of your personality, see how quick you can think on your feet, or evaluate how you solve a problem. Just try to give the best answer possible.

 

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