Interviews are like ticking time bombs, one goof, and it is BOOM! …back to square one. Hence, the absolute necessity to be thoroughly prepared.
They are usually conducted by very experienced personnels, specially skilled at asking questions that will yield great depth of information about applicants/interviewees.
One of the ways they do this is by asking trick questions that uncover areas that my reflect inconsistencies in interviewees.
Asides preparing for questions that tests knowledge of your field of study, you should also prepare for ones that tests your abilities and reactions in real life situations. We have thought of all these, and decided to bring up the ten (10) most frequently asked:
1). Tell us about any time you’ve showed initiative.
If an interviewer asks you to describe a situation in which you showed initiative, NEVER talk about a time you had an idea, but never put it into action. It is much better to talk about a time when you not only came up with a solution to a problem, but also acted on it. Be relaxed, give real life situation(s) no matter how absurd and unrelated you think it is. Explain how your idea and effort helped tackle the situation. The real message your interviewers will get will be that you aren’t just a thinker, but a doer.
2). What would be your choice of action if the organization you work for was doing something illegal?
The whole purpose of this interview question is to evaluate your character/integrity and ethics/principles.
There is always this lingering temptation to prove you can keep a secret, and simply turn a blind eye to it. NEVER FALL FOR THAT TEMPTATION, as this is NOT what any reasonable employer would want to hear.
How to answer:
Your answer should be in the line “I would report it to the proper authorities within the organization”. You could end your answer with “I wouldn’t want to work in an organization that fails to deal criminal problems”.
You really can’t fail with this answer, as the company you are applying to work for will very likely be an ethical company, that also cares whether their employees are following the law or not.
3). What makes you better than other applicants?’
Guys, as tempting as this might be, this IS NOT an invitation to boast – you are being asked to match your strengths to the qualities needed to do the job. Your best bet is buttressing your strengths, and assuring your deliveries. Don’t forget, it’s a very specific question, so beating around the bush might be quite irritating. A thorough research about the organisation and employer, will be quite helpful, as it will enable you to match your skills, interests and experience to the job requirements.
4). What would be the toughest question we could ask you right now?
You have to be smart about answering this question. The major reason one feels a question is tough is when it hits you unexpectedly/unprepared.
Here is an answer you could try.
I would say this question itself is probably one of the toughest I have been asked lately. A really tough question would be one which exposes a weakness, something along the lines of, “What’s the worst mistake you’ve made at work?”
By this, you will play the interviewers to ask you what you’ve already prepared for, which you would attach as one of the toughest question.
It makes sense to have three or four possibilities lined up just in case the interviewer follows up by asking you to pick another one!
5). Where do you see yourself in Five (5) years time?
This is another question that allows you to show off your research and understanding of your career path. You might want to come across as enthusiastic, but NOT arrogant. Tailor your response(s) to reflect the nature of the organisation, the sector, and your skills and experiences. Specific details will come up impressive.
6). What is your greatest strength?
Employers want to know if your strength aligns with the current needs of the organization.
It is important to show the employer that you have the qualities and character lacking in the organisation.
Focus on your top three or four skills. (It could be administrative skills, team building skills, leadership skills, ability to prioritize etc.).
Here’s a sample answer you can build on:
I pride myself on my customer service skill and my ability to resolve difficult situations. With years of practice as a customer service associate, I have learned to effectively listen, understand and resolve customer issues. Couple with that, my strong communication skills helps me work well with customers, team members and superiors.
7). On a scale of 0-10, what would you rate yourself?
Hammer it straight on the interviewers by saying something like:
‘If I am to rate myself over ten, I am just ten over ten’.
NO, this will not come of as arrogant, but only reveal your self confidence.
Let’s assume you’ve got a degree in Medical Biochemistry, and with that question, you’re trying to be modest, so you replied with ‘I am 9 over 10’, you’ve only created a doubt in the minds of the interviewers.
Employers may put another question to you by saying “what is it you still don’t know about this job or its expectations?”
An interviewer’s job is to give their clients (organizations who need employees) the best candidates, so it’s better to confidently tell them you’re ten over ten.
8). What is more important to you, the money or the work?
LOL! Guys, don’t try to fool yourself or anyone else here. Everyone knows that money is VERY important, but hey! don’t sound too desperate. There is no better answer to this than saying:
Money is very important, but I’d rather attain my dreams of working with your organisation, and make money while at it.
9). What would you do if you won $5 million tomorrow?
Like the rest of the questions above, this question reveals to Interviewers your intentions. They want to know if you’ll still continue to work for them. Your response to this question tells the employer about your motivation and work ethic.
The interviewer may also want to know what you would spend the money on or whether you would invest it. This illustrates how responsible you are with your money and how mature you are as a person.
Fact remains that you can easily lose composure, if you don’t pause and gather your thoughts before you respond to a questions like this.
If you would do something irresponsible or get reckless with your money, there would be a lingering worry that you’ll be careless with theirs. Hence, a zero investment opportunity in you.
10). What motivates you?
As annoying and tempting as this question might be for you to answer “MONEY” stay focused on what you enjoy doing and what you do well guys. This is an approach that interviewers, especially for fresh graduates use in knowing your passion and strength.
Draw an example from your extracurricular activities, work experience or studies that suggests you were strongly motivated by the job you are applying for. You could say a thing like Challenge motivates me. There was this time my mum dared us all on who could make better stew than her, at the time, i had never tried cooking my entire life, but she was overtly confident no one could beat her, and I took the challenge and made stew. Please don’t ask the end result, it was a disaster, but my mum was really proud of me for trying. This answer reveals your sense of humour, puts you in a more relaxed mood, and tells your interviewers that you can tackle even daring challenges.
Alright guys, as detailed as this article might seem, we reckon you don’t restrict your knowledge and preparations to this alone.
We wish you absolute success in your next job interview. Do break a leg…or two *winks*