Cents and SensibilityTricky Job Interview QuestionsMary Dacuma

By and large,  job interviews are not that bad. After all, you are being asked about yourself. Most of the time, you already know the answer. But there are a few common job interview curveballs. They aren’t trick questions, exactly. More like tricky questions. And while in theory, all answers are the right answer, some answers are more right in others. Like Animal Farm! Minus the animals. And totalitarianism.

Not at all like "Charlotte's Web"

Here are the “more right” answers to tricky job interview questions.

1) Tell me about yourself.

This might not sound like a tricky question, but if you’re not careful you may end up rambling or discussing all the wrong things. Unless you are applying at AMC, this is not the time to discuss how obsessed you are with the Walking Dead. Mention only the qualities, interests and experiences that show you are the right fit for the job.

2) What is your weakness?

The answer isn’t kryptonite. The answer is also not, “I work too hard” or “I am too much of a perfectionist.” Pick a real weakness, but one that isn’t integral to your job. Maybe there’s a new computer program people are using and you want to master it. Or maybe you are in a data-intensive field, but you want to be a better writer. Or maybe you want to be a manager sometime down the line, but you wish you had better leadership skills. Regardless of what you pick, make sure you point out how you are actively trying to improve your weakness.

3) Why do you want this job?

Don’t say “money,” even if it’s true. The question is why you want the job, not why you need the job. Anything that shows that the job is already aligned with your passion and interests is the “more right” answer. A passionate worker is a hard worker and a happy worker.

4) Do you have any questions?

Yes! YES! You absolutely have questions. Questions mean you are discerning and engaged. Research the company, position and industry beforehand and write down a few questions. I would come up with at least five in case some of your questions are answered during the course of your interview.

5) Illegal interview questions

Illegal interview questions open up the possibility that you may not be hired based on your gender, sexual orientation, marital/family status, nationality, age and background. Women should be keenly aware of these traps as some old school employers wrongly assume you will soon be marrying/raising a family and won’t be much use as a worker. Employers should know better than to ask illegal questions. However, they may still attempt to pry, particularly if you bring up the topic yourself (i.e. “My fiancé and I are huge tech geeks.”)

If you are faced with an illegal question, you have two ways you can graciously handle it. First, you can dodge the question. For example, if the question is about your personal life (kids, spouse, etc.) simply state that you are not one to let your personal life affect your professional life and vice versa. You also have the option of refusing to answer. If the interviewer decides to count that against you, they aren’t worth working for.

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with too many of these questions. But now you know how to handle them. With that, I’m sure you and your best suit will absolutely rock your interview. Best of luck!

Images from Shutterstock and Google Images

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  1. oi! Where was this last weekend before my interview? I think I handled it well, but this will be nice to review before future interviews (unless I get the job!).

  2. I once had an interviewer ask me, “How do you feel about affirmative action?” It wasn’t exactly an illegal question but it was SUCH an uncomfortable moment!

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