Not every interview question is straightforward. Some are used by savvy hiring managers to break through the traditional routine of an interview and get to a more honest place in the conversation. To put it simply, some interview questions are designed to trick you. But smart candidates know how to answer the right way.
Here are five tricky interview questions and how to respond to them:
“Why do you want to work here?”
Interviewers ask this to find out what drives you, and why you’re interested in the company. And how you answer will reveal a lot about your motivations. Even if you want to work for the company because you’re getting away from a toxic boss, or to make more money, that’s not what the interviewer wants to hear. Talk about how your values align with the company’s; the ways in which you can make a positive contribution; how you fit in with the company’s mission.
“Why do you want to leave your current job?”
The interviewer may be trying to raise any red flags about why you’re leaving your current position. The best answer is that you’re looking for a new challenge in a culture that better aligns with your values and goals. It’s never advisable to trash-talk your current or former job; that just makes you look bad.
“Why the gap on your resume?”
Answer this question the wrong way, and you might seem unmotivated or lazy. Answer it the right way, and you can turn it around in your favor. Talk about what you’ve done in any employment gaps that make you a better candidate – freelancing, studying, taking on internships, or even traveling. Be honest, but always relate your answer back to how it benefits you and the employer.
“Tell us about a time you were asked to compromise your integrity.”
This is a way for the interviewer to evaluate your moral compass. When answering, you’ll want to be professional without revealing any internal practices or approaches of former employers. If you do it in the interview, the interviewer can safely assume you’ll do it to them later. Explain how you circumnavigated the situation, but don’t bad-mouth anyone in your answer.
“How do you define success?”
This question gives the interviewer insight into your motivations. Do you want a better paycheck? A new challenge? Since “success” is so subjective, this can be a tricky one to answer. The best approach is to say something like “being able to apply my expertise to help achieve strategic goals, and build on the company’s existing success.”
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