Have you left an interview with similar thoughts before? Most people have. Whether you are dealing with an inexperienced interviewer or a pro who’s deliberately trying to catch you off guard to see how you handle yourself, sometimes these awkward questions come out of left field. And it’s your job to deal with them.
Here are five great answers to awkward interview questions.
Tell me about yourself.
This one seems deceptively easy. Who knows more about you than you, right? This question gets awkward, though, because it’s so vague and broad. Rather than race through potential topics on the spot, you should be prepared beforehand.
“I recommend memorizing a few general statements about yourself. Here is an example of what to say: My name is (X) and I have (X number) years of experience in (X field). My strengths include (choose 3 strengths) and I’m currently look for a position because (X reason) and this position interests me because (X reason).
What’s your passion?
This one gets awkward because candidates assume the interviewer wants to hear a work-related answer. That might work if you’re applying to be a zookeeper and your passion really is animals. Otherwise, no one will believe bean-counting is your life’s bliss, so don’t pretend.
You want to choose an answer that is not work related. Give an interesting tidbit about yourself that will help you stand out from other people. For example, if your passion is health and nutrition, don’t just say you like to workout and eat healthy. Instead, describe how you’ve recently taken up Bikram yoga and grow your own organic vegetables in your garden.” The more details you provide that show you’re a well-rounded person, the better.
Why are you looking to leave your current job?
This question is an absolute minefield. Does the interviewer need to know that your kids’ tuition just increased and you really need more cash? Or that your current boss aggravates you like a week full of Mondays? Absolutely not.
You don’t have to reveal every reason you’re considering leaving. You should also never reveal anything personal or financial as the basis for the change. It may make the interviewer question your professionalism. Instead, anything that comes from the desire to make a professional transition such as “looking for more of a challenge” or a desire to enter a slightly different area of the industry.
How do we know you’ll stay?
If you’ve made a few job transitions lately with different companies, you should be prepared to answer questions. It may be that your industry is a volatile one or that you just had numerous great opportunities. Either way, the company you’re interviewing with will need some reassurances.
A great answer would be one that focuses on your learning and adaptability at each position, how in-demand your skills are, and how in making these changes you’ve come to appreciate a stable work environment and the sense of accomplishment that comes along with that.
If you were a fruit or a pizza topping, what would you be?
Yes, interviewers do occasionally pull out the random questions just to see what happens. Executive and business coach Beth Carter recommends answers that will showcase your skills and personality. Her responses: an apple or ham and pineapple. An apple is tough on the outside and sweet on the inside, showcasing Carter’s strategic implementation and soft skills. Ham and pineapple seem like a bad combo, but their diversity actually goes together beautifully, and Carter likes to use diverse teams to accomplish common goals.