Five annoying new interview questions to prepare for in 2017

Employers practising outdated interview techniques hurt themselves, their customers and their shareholders

It’s great to see some employers moving away from old, stale mindsets and instead treating their employees and job applicants like valued collaborators. However, some hold onto their archaic beliefs such as:

  1. During the hiring process, employers make all of the important decisions.
  2. It is perfectly appropriate for employers to ask job-seekers to expose their inner thoughts and fears, including asking the questions “What’s your greatest weakness?” and “What are you working to improve in yourself?”
  3. It would be seen as outrageous for a job-seeker to ask their interviewer any of the questions they’ve been asked to answer themselves.
  4. “Trick” questions like “What kind of zoo animal is most like you?” are great interview questions because they show you how the applicant sees himself or herself. Or not.
  5. Job-seekers who don’t want to jump through your hoops are simply unworthy of working in your amazing company. They show their unworthiness by leaving the interview pipeline before you’ve had a chance to dismiss them!

The smarter and more capable job applicants are, the faster and farther they will run away from organizations that don’t treat them well.

Here are five new questions that job applicants heard on job interviews in 2016, along with a sample answer for each question.

  1. What are you better at than anyone else in the world?

This question is asked to see how confidently you describe yourself, although truly confident people don’t brag in the first place.  You will have to assume that the interviewer has been brainwashed by another interviewer who was also brainwashed, and so on down the line.

Liz Ryan, writer for Forbes, suggests answering the question in the following way, “Well, the one thing I know I’m better at than anyone is being me, and I guess that is a mix of being passionate about digital marketing and comic books, playing the trombone in my jazz quintet and playing with my dogs. That’s my strong suit because that’s what I do all the time.”

  1. What is your ideal job – in detail?

This could be perceived as a trick question, perhaps to see whether you had in fact researched the position you are applying for.  You may answer with an ideal job that is very different and thereby could cast doubt on your suitability for the vacant position.

Ryan suggests avoiding to describe an ideal job that is the opposite of the job you’re applying for and instead talking about your ideal job this way:

“My ideal job is a job where I’m working with smart people to solve one of our company’s top two or three biggest problems. I want to be able to see the impact of my work on the organization’s challenges, and I want lots of creative collaboration with my co-workers and my boss. My ideal job could be in a highrise or a loft or almost anywhere as long as the energy is great.”

  1. What’s one thing in your life you would have done differently if you could do it over again?

This is a pretty personal question.  Ryan suggests that you could choose a relatively harmless event like a powerful learning experience at work: “I would go back in time and never enter into the vendor agreement that ended up costing me and my department time and money last year. Powerful learning! Now I know the right questions to ask.”

  1. What’s the most significant thing that has happened to you so far in your life?

This is another very personal and presumptuous question – too much so for a job interview.

Some people have had traumatic experiences in the past including seeing war and famine, safety for their lives or perhaps losing family members.  To ask people to relive this by discussing it in the interview would stir up inappropriate emotions and would be the absolute height of rudeness.

Consider answering the question this way, “It was very significant to me to finally receive my Master’s degree after years of study, and of course I will never forget the day I got married and the day my son was born.”

  1. Studies show that twenty percent of employees do eighty percent of the work. What makes you part of the twenty percent?

This question could be the worst of them all as it portrays that the company has bad management skills.  If twenty percent of your employees are truly performing eighty percent of the work, then your managers are out of their depth, which is nothing to be proud of.

You can answer like this: “I haven’t paid attention to my co-workers’ output at jobs that I’ve held so far because I’ve been focused on my own work and also because I’ve had tremendous co-workers who always supported me. I would expect to find the same situation here, and I enjoy helping people catch up if they fall behind so our whole department is on schedule.”

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