Most people’s biggest job-hunting fear is being put on the spot by oddball interview questions such as these (which are real):
“Describe the color yellow to someone who’s blind.” – Spirit Airlines
“If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?” – Bose
“Who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman?” – Stanford University
Offbeat questions are nearly impossible to prepare for, and they don’t achieve the interviewer’s objective—to test out-of-the-box thinking and the ability to perform under pressure. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that companies are moving away from them. Recent research shows these questions do little more than boost the interviewer’s confidence. Even companies famous for oddball questions are abandoning them. In the words of Laszlo Bock, Google’s former HR chief:
“If you’ve heard that Google likes to pose brain-teaser questions to candidates—like why manhole covers are round—your information is out of date. There’s no evidence that they suggest how people perform on the job.
A Glassdoor study of tens of thousands of interviews found the 50 questions you’re most likely to be asked in your next interview:
1. What are your strengths?
2. What are your weaknesses?
3. Why are you interested in working for us?
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
Though these questions may be less exciting to prepare for than “Spiderman vs. Batman,” they are what you need to be ready for.
Most interviewees are only prepared for about 10 questions, so this list alone can give you a leg up. Study the list carefully and have answers ready—but not robotically rehearsed—so that you can speak comfortably, flexibly, and confidently about each of these topics.
If you want to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd, preparing for these 50 questions is not enough. Follow the 9 strategies below and weave the knowledge they impart into your responses. Then you’ll truly ace your interview.
1. Identify Your “Hook”
Most hiring managers interview a lot of people. So many that they generally have to go back to their notes to remember candidates—the exception being candidates with a strong hook. Sometimes these hooks are how people dress or their personality, but the best hook is a strong story that’s work-related. When you can wow an interviewer with a memorable story that shows what a strong candidate you are, you’ll rise to the top of the list.
3. …And Know What Makes You A Great Fit For It
Know exactly what makes you fit into the position perfectly and speak to it during the interview. What you makes you special? It could be that you’re an idea machine, or a statistical fanatic. Whatever it is, know it and prepare to fit it into your responses.
For example, when an interviewer asks, “What are your strengths?” skip the clichés and go right into qualities about you that are unique to the job. You’ll make it clear that you’re the perfect fit.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
You, and everyone else interviewing for the job, already know many of the questions you’ll be asked. The difference lies in preparation. Preparing unique and position-specific responses will give you the competitive edge over everyone else. You don’t need to memorize answers, but instead know certain points of reference about yourself that you can apply to different questions.
Make sure to “mock interview” yourself. Video your responses until you’re able to speak comfortably and flexibly—as opposed to rotely regurgitating answers—about your prepared topics. Videoing yourself may feel awkward when you do it, but it will pay off during your interview.