It is the tricky question that unseats a lot of interviewees and has them leaving the interview kicking themselves. The cute thing is that a lot of the tricky questions are the ones that most people do not expect to be tricky. Many people think that they answered these questions fine because they are not truly aware of what the purpose behind those questions is.
For example, if an interviewer asks if you are married with kids, it is not because he or she is interested in your home life. It is because your interviewer wants to know how easy it would be for you to up and leave without any notice. Or, how easy it would be to move out of the area at the drop of a hat.
Why do you want to work for us?
Tricky because there is a very specific answer they are looking for, and that answer is some evidence that you have researched the role and that you genuinely want the job. Take the word “want” very literally in the question.
Answer: I want this job because this is the best job on the market. I have been looking for work in this area, and I am fully qualified and experienced enough to do it well. I have been itching to get into this company so that I can finally do the job that I want to, instead of just working a job for the money.
Can you give us any examples about when you had to think on your feet?
This question is actually a test of your experience and your initiative. If you get this sort of question, then what they are looking for is proof that you will not run back to the manager every time you hit a bump in the road.
Answer: Ideally, you want to give them an example where you were left in charge and fixed a problem without the help of any senior staff.
What do you do in your spare time?
This may not seem like a tricky question, and yet this is the one that usually unseats a lot of interviewees. They want you to show that you are not a one-dimensional character. They want to see that your life involves more than just going to work. They also want to see if any questionable lifestyle choices arise.
Answer: Do not jump in with your hobbies, as this is the most common mistake. You need to explain that you have a normal life. That you have to go home and tend to your kids or listen to your spouse. You can explain that most of your time is spent decorating at the moment, or that you have been visiting your parents a lot because they are holidaying close to your home, etc.
How did you hear about this job?
They are looking for some connection between you and their company. If someone you know works for them, then they are more likely to hire you. What they are also looking for is confirmation that you did not just hand out a bunch of CVs and hope for the best. They want some indication that you sought their job out. They do not want to hear that you simply saw the job listing whilst looking at others.
Answer: Say something along the lines of, “well, actually, I have been checking your website every other week to see if any new positions came up. Ideally, I wanted a slightly higher position to match my experience level, but I figured that I could start at the bottom and work upwards.” An answer like this will get you the job.
About Author: Maria is a writer for Scholar Advisor. She is an expert in education, academic writing, essay editing and careers.