Here’s a twist on a traditional interview question: Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know.
What to do? Hiring managers are asking tough questions just to see how you’ll handle the unexpected.
Left-field queries offer candidates a chance to think quickly and analytically as they come up with a truthful response that won’t reveal any real weaknesses, says Lavie Margolin, a New York career coach and author of "Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions."
"The interviewer also wants to understand how you deal with a question that is unexpected and makes you acknowledge that you are not perfect," he adds. The key is to understand why certain questions are asked – and offer an ideal response.
Carole Martin, a San Diego specialist known as "The Interview Coach," teaches her clients to follow a five-step process when dealing with difficult questions that involve problem solving: analyze, research, develop, implement and evaluate (ARDIE).
When you hear: "What would you do if," you should walk the interviewer through the process by explaining how you moved through each step.
"Because these questions can be very slippery to answer, remember it’s about the way you process and think through a problem that’s important," explains Martin, also author of "What to Say in Every Job Interview."
Some questions will test your thinking process and your ethics. Take this question: "If you know your boss is 100 percent wrong about something, how would you handle it?"
Margolin says that in this case the interviewer wants to understand how you would approach a sensitive topic with management while maintaining protocol. You’d want to explain your position as it related to the situation, with your respect for management being first and foremost.
Margolin offers a few other tough questions and strategies to answer them:
"When was the last time you were angry?"
The interviewer wants to learn how you manage your emotions on the job and if you can maintain your professionalism. Do not try to say that you never get angry. Instead, offer a relevant example and share what you learned from it.
"What are your regrets?"
Not everything will go your way all of the time and the interviewer needs to understand how you will handle it when things don’t go right. Provide a regret you may have that is relevant to the job and what you may have learned from it.
"If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?"
The interviewer wants to get a sense of where you are going with your career by having you reflect on your past. Focus on what you’ve learned through your experience and if you had known, what you would have done differently.
"What do you find are the most difficult decisions to make?"
The interviewer is curious about your decision-making process. Consider the decisions that you would have to make in the role and use one as an example. Provide a reason why the decision might be difficult and how you would approach it.
"What is more important to you: money or work?"
The interviewer is questioning your value system and what you prioritize as a professional. Focus on the work as to make it clear that the more successful you are at work, the more likely you are to earn greater monetary reward.
"Would you lie for the company?"
The interviewer is testing your moral compass. Make it clear that you would not lie.
"How many applications have you made?"
The interviewer wants to know how proactive you have been in your job search. Make it clear that you have been focused on finding an appropriate job and not just applying to every open vacancy.
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