The 4 Trick Questions In Every Job Interview And How To Answer Them
Via Forbes : The 4 Trick Questions In Every Job Interview And How To Answer Them
Why do they ask questions in a job interview? On the surface, the answer seems simple: because the interviewer wants to know more about you, right? The company wants to know about your background, your experience, your thought processes—and the way you handle pressure. But not all interview questions are designed for your success. Some questions are designed to disqualify the unqualified. And if you aren’t skilled in the art of conversation, you’re immediately at a disadvantage. Because in the job interview process, whoever tells the best story wins. Here’s how to make sure you see a trick question when it shows up – and what you can do to make sure you don’t give the wrong answer – when the stakes are high.
1. “So, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?” Surprisingly, this simple question is deceptively difficult, because it is cloaked in misdirection. On the surface, it seems like an invitation to begin speaking about yourself, right? But that’s why it’s a trick question. People ask about you, but what they want to know is: what can you do for me? And by extension: how does your story serve this company? If you take this trick question at face value, you might decide to wax on about your experience from birth until yesterday, winding through a narrative yarn that includes your college GPA as well as your latest work experience. Stop. Right. There. Don’t fall into a first-person trap where you are talking only about yourself. Make sure you connect your story to the most important person in the room—that’s your interviewer—because if you’re not talking about what you can do for them, and for this company, you’re not sharing the story that really matters. Concentrate on connection: what would happen if you could make the second person first? The second person is “you” (your interviewer, I mean). How could your experience impact the person right in front of you, and the company you want to hire you? Make that connection and it will pull you right out of this trick question trap.
2. “What Can You Tell Me About Your Favorite Boss?” This warm fuzzy question is tricky, especially if you’ve been fortunate to work for a great boss. Here’s what most people don’t see coming: the follow up. What about your least-favorite boss? That question is on the way, and it’s a sucker punch if you aren’t ready. Why? Because you might be inclined to trash your worst boss, slinging mud in the direction of the clown you worked for at a painful employer. The problem is, when you sling mud in a job interview, you’re the only one who ends up getting dirty. There are certain characteristics that made your bad boss difficult. But this question doesn’t ask you for a dossier on his or her psychology, preferences or management style. Because talking about your bad boss (or your best one) is really revealing what it is that you will and won’t tolerate. You are talking about your working style, your values, your work ethic and your style as an employee. Not the good or bad of your last boss! Focus there, like a boss—because your last bad manager is probably still a jerk. The only way to move forward in the interview is to get clear on how you want to serve your next boss, now.
3. “What is your greatest weakness?” Looks like this trick question is trying to get you to admit your faults and flaws, right? But actually that’s how the trick works. There’s a question behind the question—and you have to see that question if you’re going to answer in a way that serves you best. The question behind “What’s your greatest weakness?” is really: how self-aware are you? Once I was working with a client on his elevator pitch (a short introduction to a person, product or idea). He started off with, “I’m nine shades of awesome. Which color do you want first?” Everything has a front and a back. Every person has strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t admit that you’re not nine shades of awesome, that might be your biggest weakness right there.
4. “Our policy on X is Y. How do you feel about that?” The trap in this trick question is incomplete information. If they really want to trip you up, they’ll ask you what you would change about the policy. Uh oh. If you rush in to answer immediately, you will be reminded of who rushes in: fools. Fools rush in. Do you fully understand the policy, and the potential impact? If you are presented with incomplete information, the trick is for you to remember to ask questions before you give your answers. Otherwise, you’ll answer a question that no one has asked—because you don’t know the full story! Get curious and do a little detective work; that way you won’t get tricked or trapped.
Remember, the job interview isn’t an interrogation. It’s a conversation. These trick questions aren’t designed to trip you up, but if you don’t look at the question behind the question you’ll stumble nonetheless. Concentrate on how your background can serve your next employer and don’t waste time trashing the personality differences between you and your bad boss. These kinds of questions give you a chance to demonstrate your work ethic, integrity and personal style—phrased in terms of your next opportunity. Share that story in a way that’s authentic and compelling, and you’ve mastered every trick in the book.
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