Interview Questions That Can Trick Candidates
In her book Job Interviews for Dummies, Joyce Lain Kennedy, a nationally syndicated careers columnist, names the most common questions that can trick you during a job interview and suggests how to handle the questions.
1. How did you prepare for this interview? The interviewer wants to find out how much you really care about the job. Answer by saying, "I researched the company to learn about the products and services so I could see where my skills fit in. I very much want this job." Demonstrate your knowledge by commenting on recent developments in the company or asking questions that show you spent time studying the job and company.
2. Do you know anyone who works for us? This is a really tricky question because most interviewees expect that knowing someone on the inside is always a good thing. That's only true if the person you know is well thought of in the company. You should mention acquaintances by name only if you're certain of their positive standing in the organization.
3. Where would you really like to work? The interviewer asks this question to learn whether you are applying for every job opening in sight. Never mention another company by name or another job title. You want to highlight all the reasons you're perfect for this job and commit to giving it all of your attention. A good response is: "This is where I want to work, and this job is what I want to do."
4. What bugs you about coworkers or bosses? Don't fall into this trap. You always want to present yourself as optimistic and action-oriented, a person who has no trouble working with others. Answer by saying, "I can't think of anything specific." Then compliment your former bosses for being knowledgeable and fair and commend past coworkers for their ability and attitude. It will reveal your positive outlook and self-control.
5. Can you describe how you solved a work or school problem? This is a basic interview question and should always be anticipated. If you haven't prepared an answer and can't come up with something on the spot, you will miss an opportunity to highlight your best skills and attributes. Use the question to describe an achievement, like how you solved time management issues to complete a special assignment or complicated project.
6. Can you describe a work or school instance in which you messed up? The interviewer is trying to discover whether you learn from your mistakes. The interviewer also wants to know whether you're too self-important to see your failings. If you answer this question by naming several mistakes, you put yourself in a bad light. To answer, briefly mention a single small goof and follow up with an important lesson you learned from the experience. "I tried to load the toner into the copier, but didn't understand the directions. I made a mess and others had to wait to use the copier. I learned to ask for advice when I need help."
"If at any point in an interview you're uncertain of an answer or caught off guard by a question, don't panic," Kennedy warns. "Be honest about not knowing the answer and say that, as a careful worker, you would prefer not to guess. If you've otherwise done a good job of answering questions and confidently explained why you're a great match for the position," she says, "the interviewer probably won't consider your lack of specifics on a single topic to be a deal breaker."
Adapted from a blog by Jenna Goudreau at Forbes.com