Ever get stumped by a job interview question? Well, perhaps it was because you never imagined such strange, silly or extremely direct questions would come your way.
It's part of the job search volley that you will be made to feel uncomfortable. They want to see how you handle pressure, and if you can keep your composure and answer with a measured, thoughful response.
CIO.com has put together a list of such questions, some that are more conventional, but others that are becoming more standard in a recession and tough economy. Companies are going to due their diligence on you, so better to be ready for it than to look like someone smacked you in the head with a wet fish. The article has comments and suggestions on how to answer each of these questions.
From the CIO.com article:
- Why have you been out of work for an extended period of time?
- How many people were on your team, and how many were laid off?
- Why do you think you were selected for the reduction in force?
- Have you ever fired anyone?
- If the CEO or someone very senior in the organization comes to you with an urgent problem, how would you handle it?
- What books have you read lately?
- Have you published any technical documents or white papers?
- A year from now, what is going to keep you at this company?
- How long will it take before you make a positive impact?
- What makes you think you had anything to do with that achievement?
- If you were able to get 20 percent cost savings, could you have gotten 30 or 40 percent?
- What are your weaknesses and some of your failures?
On the "why you were selected to be laid off question," Brian Nettles, a director of systems at CB Richard Ellis, told CIO.com the following:
"Nettles says a job seeker's anger toward his former employer sometimes surfaces when answering this question. Yet a candidate who speaks negatively about a former employer "shows a lack of self-control or discipline," he says.Other candidates say they don't know why they got laid off, which Nettles sees as an acceptable response. That is, provided the candidate has answered other questions well and can confidently explain why he would be right for the position.Another get-out-of-jail answer: "Sometimes, they say they want to mull over the question and come back to it, which is a good response if they're caught off guard," adds Nettles."
In a subsequent post, CIO.com's Meredith Levinson writes about unconventional interview questions. They are:
- If you could be a super hero, which one would you be?
- If you were a cereal box on a long grocery store aisle, why would I put you in my shopping cart when there are so many other boxes?
- If you were an IP address, what would it be?
- If you didn't have any financial obligations, what would you be doing with your time?
- How does a computer mouse work?
You should think about how you would answer all of these questions effortlessly and with grace. Take some of them with a grain of salt, but answer them and try to get to what the person is really wanting to know. If you think's its a ludicrous question, ask politely for some clarification and calmly give an answer that shows you can handle bumps in the road.
How do you answer that IP address question? Simon Stapelton, a chief innovation officer in the United Kingdom, says in that blog post that he wasn't sure exactly how he answered it other than to say:
"[He] would not be the loop back address (the IP address of one's own computer.) He thinks he was asked this question to demonstrate that he understood how IP addresses worked."
Again, asking for some additional clarification can be helpful before shooting from the hip. In Stapelton's case, he got the job.