My general tip for job interviews is: Never lose your calm, because there are usually good intentions behind the interviewer’s questions. Take your time to answer. Think first instead of answering immediately and avoid negative phrases and objections, such as “but” and “yes, I know”.
Keep in mind that the interviewer is not trying to put you into a “chokehold”, but he’s rather interviewing you because he’s looking for employees. Your strengths and weaknesses are supposed to be identified through the interaction that arises during the interview.
Your previous skills, abilities and qualifications will be measured and it’s very likely that the potential employer will go quite deep in order to find out about your behavior, suitability, assertiveness, motivation and maturity.
This is also the background for the following five extraordinary sounding interview questions.
- Why do you get up every morning?
Here, an HR manager wants to find out about your motivation and attitude towards life. Behind this question lies the thought of what motivates and drives you every single day. Think about your main motivators or ask yourself about the meaning of your life. If you like to discover things and see every day as an opportunity to explore new things, to learn, to meet interesting people or to develop things further, then this could be an answer to the question.
- If you could turn into an animal for one day, which one would you choose?
This question always comes up again – but continues to surprise candidates. The background to this question is what characteristics you have or would like to have. For instance, a sloth would be a funny answer indeed, but if you want the job, I advise you to choose another animal species. A cheetah, for example, is characterized by its speed and performance. Be creative and think about which animal suits you and whether the characteristics also suit the company and the position.
- How do you prepare for a zombie apocalypse?
You think this question is not asked? One of my Java developer candidates was asked this question. Just like before: Keep calm. The question’s intention is to see whether you easily lose your calm or are quickly unsettled.
Let your creativity run wild when answering the question! Surprise your counterpart with your ideas and add some humor to your answer. You could, for instance, answer like this:
“First, I will look for suitable companions, with whom I have the best chance of survival. This means a person who has other strengths than me, so that we may both complement each other perfectly. In this case, the strengths should contribute to survival. For example, I will look for someone who is a hunter and can provide food in an emergency, and who knows his way around a forest that might serve as a hiding place. That brings us to hide-outs and food. Where should we stay, where is it safe and what food do we take with us? I would tackle these questions next. I will also be looking for institutions that could be developing an antidote the fastest, such as medical labs. Then we will immediately be protected as soon as an anti-zombie drug has been developed…”
- How many Smarties fit in a Smart?
This question belongs to the so-called brainteaser tasks – also called puzzle tasks. An employer uses these puzzles to find out how well a candidate’s analytical skills are developed. In this case, I advise you not to follow your first instinct and answer immediately. Instead, structure your thoughts and engage your counterpart.
- What bothered you the most about your last employer?
When you’re answering this question, make sure that you don’t introduce negative emotions, such as anger, into the answer – even if these are still lingering inside you. Imagine if, at some point in the future, you and your employer were to part ways and you were then to go on and make negative remarks about your previous employer to a competitor. This is often the underlying thought of this question, when asked by HR managers. Most of the candidates do have a comprehensible reason for change, such as a desire to get to know new structures or to take on new tasks. Use such phrases and explain yourself positively, instead of spilling the beans during the interview and making one or the other negative comment about your old employer.
No matter the question – keep cool and answer calmly. And don’t forget: Behind every question, or even behind every potential doubt, there is a positive intention to engage in conversation with you. The interviewers want to get to know you and, at best, hire you.