“New” interview questions

Although I’ve read recently that companies like Google and Facebook have stopped asked weird questions, an article published on the Huffington Post suggests that there are still some questions that might be considered unusual out there. The article is written for interviewers—to tell them about “The Best Job Interview Questions We’ve Heard” —as a way of improving their own interviewing skills. But if the interviewers are thinking about asking them, you need to be prepared to answer them.

The first question (of four) is one that I want you to focus on, although it’s unlikely you would hear this question as written in the article. The question given is: “So you’re a Yankees fan. If you were the team’s owner, how would you make them better?” The variation of this question that you would be likely to hear will be based on your hobbies or outside interests. The interviewer, who would glean that information from your resume or possible ask you about it during the interview, would then create a question that asks the you to make a good argument in favor of an action on a topic you actually know something about. It’s a test of your creativity, your presentation skills, and your confidence. So before you go into an interview, think about what your resume says about you, or how you will respond if you’re asked about your hobbies, and then think about the kinds of questions someone might ask you relevant to that topic.

The second question is also a good one to plan for: “What three to five things do you need to be successful in this job? What are the deal killers?” The purpose of this question is to see what you know about the job for which you’re applying—not just the details in the job description, but also the way that this job fits into the functioning of the organization—as well as how much you understand about the organization’s culture and mission.

The third question is unlikely to come up for new college graduates, but more experienced job seekers could find themselves being asked, “If you ran your current company, what are some things you would change?” Interviewers would ask this question to see if you can think beyond your own position within an organization. Running a company involves awareness of multiple roles and departments and an understanding of how they all fit together. In responding to this question, interviewees would need to demonstrate that type of understanding. And it’s not completely impossible to imagine a recent college graduate being asked, “If you ran your college….”

The final question in the article is a new one to me: “How do you feel about a trial period?” Although I’ve never heard of this as part of an interview, it’s not at all uncommon for organizations to hire individuals first as contract workers and then, when they have proven themselves, to take them on full time. A trial period gives everyone—both the employer and the new employee—an opportunity to really learn about one another, to see how well they fit together, and thus it can be very beneficial. Many of my students have taken contract positions as a first step to a permanent job, especially if the position is with a highly desirable company. Before you agree to a trial period, however, make sure you’re being offered paid work and not an unpaid internship! The article specifically stated that a trial period was a paid position, just not a permanent one…yet.

As always, when I see other articles with new information about trends in interviewing, you can read what I think about it here.