Surviving your interview; the questions you didn't expect.

For a lot of people, January is the month to look for a new job – everyone wants to start the New Year with a boom and for many that means finally landing their dream job. (If you are still struggling to get an interview, please see our blog post ‘My New Year’s resolution – get a new job!’ for help and tips on where to look.)

So you’ve been keeping an eye out for jobs, you’ve sent off lots of relevant applications and made numerous calls to various companies, and finally you have an interview. Go you! Now comes the hardest bit. Interviews are nerve-racking there’s no doubting that, but the more prepared you are the easier it’s going to be.

You need to think of an interview like a sales pitch, but instead of selling a product you have to sell yourself! Like any product you want to look the part. You have your CV and portfolio all up to date, you’ve bought a new shirt, ironed your trousers and you even have matching socks ready to go! But the one thing that you haven’t done is think about the questions that you are going to be asked.

Interviewers can ask all kinds of questions to try and catch you off guard, but don’t worry. Below we have listed over 25 questions that could help you survive your interview - they are the interview questions you didn’t expect:

  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What was the biggest challenge you ever faced?
  • You`re in an elevator with your potential future boss - sell yourself in 10 seconds!
  • What was the reason for leaving your previous employer?
  • Describe yourself in one word.
  • What career goals have you set yourself?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What would you bring to our company?
  • Describe a situation where you successfully convinced others of your ideas.
  • Which areas of the world would you like to explore and why?
  • Have you ever considered starting your own business?
  • What motivates you?
  • Could you have done better in your previous job?
  • What would you like to improve professionally about yourself?
  • Tell me a joke.
  • What would you do with 1 million Ping-Pong balls?
  • Tell me 20 uses for a paper clip.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • If you were an animal what would you be and why?
  • Tell me about your greatest achievement.
  • What is the most random thing you have ever done?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What do you know about us?
  • Tell me how you have handled a difficult situation at work.
  • What is your greatest fear?
  • How would you overcome it?

Although some of these seem a bit off topic, it’s worth analysing them and thinking of answers in case you are put on the spot. Once you have done this, you should feel a lot more confident when asked one of these unexpected questions.

If you have ever encountered any of these questions let us know how you handled it, please comment below.

Good luck interviewees!

Views: 6458

Comment by Danny Powell on January 29, 2013 at 8:29am

I recently had a client ask one of my candidates, "Are you a dog or a cat person?"  I later asked the client why the question.  Their response, "we want to see if they can make decisions quickly".  I have now added that to my list of things to prep for with this company.  No a standard question I assure you but a grat example of some of the unexpected things are candidates are asked.  BTW, my guy got the job!

Comment by Daniel Briggs on January 29, 2013 at 9:26am

That is a great question Danny, I do feel that interviewers need to ask more 'outside of the box' questions. That way you can get a real understanding of what the interviewee is really like.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on January 29, 2013 at 9:50am

That would be easy for me to answer. I'm neither. Animals freak me out. I like the "Tell Me a Joke" question. I may steal that.

Comment by Daniel Briggs on January 29, 2013 at 9:53am

Excellent question for putting people on the spot, they just have to make sure its clean!

Comment by Marie-Clara Thaureux on January 29, 2013 at 2:22pm

These are some fantastic questions to be prepared for but never forget 'tell me about yourself?'' This seems to be a common opener for many interviewers and despite being a perfect opportunity for the interviewee to 'sell' themselves many are caught off guard by the sheer openness of this question.

Comment by Daniel Briggs on January 30, 2013 at 4:08am

True, interviewees can go one of two ways when asked the question 'tell me about yourself' they will either 'waffle on' and tell you everything about their life, or just go completely silent..


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