10 Unexpected Interview Questions You Should Prepare For

I recently read an article that listed out some of the toughest and most overlooked interview questions. Expert recruiters commented that most candidates aren’t prepared to answer these questions in an interview. Although I don’t agree with all of the questions (and have never been asked a few of them), it doesn’t hurt to think through how you’d answer them if you have an interview on the horizon.

1. Why should I hire you?

This is a great question and you should be able to answer quickly and concisely if you know your strengths. Don’t get caught fumbling over your words. When you’re asked this question, the hiring manager has teed you up to sell yourself. Do it confidently.

2. Why is there a gap in your work history?

Know how to answer this without looking like you’re making up a bunch of bullshit. Be honest about what prompted the gap, and tell about how you used the time in between jobs to learn, invest in yourself, and fine-tune your skills for your next role. Of course, if you didn’t do any of these things, you may want to reevaluate.

3. Tell me one thing you would change about your last job.

Be honest and critical, but don’t blame others. Nobody wants to hire someone who points fingers. Make sure you have solutions to what the issues were, and highlight what you learned from working with those issues. Don’t use this as a bitch session.

4. Tell me about yourself.

Know how to talk about yourself! Not everyone is a salesperson, but you need to know how to sell yourself to a hiring manager. Tell them how your past experience is applicable to the job you’re interviewing for and give them examples of how you are a great team player and have the skills they need in the role they are hiring for.

5. Explain a complex database to your 80 year-old grandma.

I’m not a huge fan of questions like this, but they are definitely asked. I was once asked in an interview how many hairs are on a dog. They didn’t care what the answer was as much as me talking them through my logic in doing the calculation.

6. What would the person who likes you least in the world say about you?

There’s not supposed to be such thing as a dumb question, but I think this one proves that wrong. I’ve never heard it being asked before, but use this as an opportunity to humbly discuss your weaknesses and how you are working to improve.

7. Tell me about a time when old solutions didn’t work.

For this unexpected interview question, show them how you think about process improvement and solving problems. Walk them through your process. If you involved other people, talk about how you found a new solution, etc. Don’t say, “everything always worked just fine.”

8. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Talk about your risk-vs-reward tolerance and why the decision you made was the best decision at that point. You might also want to discuss if you would have done anything differently and what you learned from going through that.

9. Have you ever had a supervisor challenge a decision?

The purpose of the question is to see how you handle conflict and if you can deal with being wrong. Talk about how you handle feedback, and your ability to pivot and follow instruction.

10. Describe a time when your team did not agree.

This interview question important in determining your ability to work on a team. Discuss what your role was, how you worked through the problem, what you learned and how you’d handle a similar situation in the future.


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