I’ll never forget walking into my very first job interview to find the prospective employer buried in The New York Times. Without looking up from behind his paper, the gruff reporter-turned-PR pro read a headline about the war in Vietnam and asked me to comment. Such politically insensitive questions aren’t common place today, but tough-to-answer questions are becoming fairly routine.
When you land an interview, don’t blow your chance to impress a prospective employer by failing to be prepared to answer any and all questions no matter how silly some might sound. I recommend that you draw a T graph–put potential questions on the left side and jot down key phrases of possible answers on the right side. This exercise will help you shape the best possible answers even if the ones asked aren’t exactly the same. To get started, use the basic list of 100 potential interview questions from Monster.com. Also check past posts on this blog, including the 12 most frequently asked questions.
You also can find out-of-the-ordinary questions every Sunday in the New York Times’ “Corner Office” column. C-suite executives each week are asked “how do you hire” and they generally share their favorite interview questions. In last Sunday’s column, Chris Barbin, chief executive of Appirio, an information technology company that focuses on cloud services, likes to ask applicants to describe themselves in one word. He also asks applicants to describe what they’re most proud of and what they “stink” at.
In addition to anticipating questions you’ll be asked, be sure to come armed with questions you will be expected to ask prospective employers. An insightful question on your part can set you apart from other applicants. In a past post, I listed five questions you should bring to a job interview. U.S. News lists its 10 best interview questions.