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We Asked, You Answered: Reader Interview Questions, Part II…The Best of the Rest

For the second of our two-part series on reader-submitted interview questions, take a look at the best of the rest…from the old standbys, to the brainteasers, to the somewhat bizarre.

Cult Classics
The following traditional interview questions received multiple mentions – in one form or another. Clearly, these oldie-but-goodies still do the trick for many of you:

  1. Why do you want to work here?I’m constantly amazed at how many applicants don’t know anything about the company they have applied to.”
  2. Tell me about a disagreement you had with a colleague or a supervisor and how it was resolved.The candidate’s response will demonstrate their honesty, problem solving ability, ability to work with others, and ability to handle conflict.”
  3. If you could design your perfect job, what would it look like?I want to know what motivates and excites people.”
  4. If I asked a previous employer what you could improve upon, what would they tell me? “I hate the question, ‘What are your weaknesses?’  I’ve tweaked it to ask [this question instead]. It’s easier to step outside of your ‘perfection’ and think, ‘What do others perceive as a weakness?’” 
  5. If you were me, why should I hire you for this position?If the applicant can’t provide a positive comment about themselves it’s hard to believe they can be a team player.”
  6. What is the best interviewing question you’ve ever been asked? “It’s a great variation on the tried and true ‘tell me about yourself’ – but with an unexpected twist.” (Editor’s note: check out even more variations on “tried and true” interview questions here.)

Power of Three
Three is a magic number for hiring managers, apparently. Here are just a few of the many responses where the number appeared.

  1. If you were hiring for this position what would be the three key things you would be looking for in this person? Tell us why. “I have received some very revealing answers.”
  2. Can you please share at least three of your pet peeves?Typically provides a hint of what one might expect as far as temperament.”
  3. Tell me three things you really liked about your previous job and three things that you would have changed to make it a better place to work?I’m looking to see if there is a match in what they like and what they are looking for.”
  4. What in your mind are the top three characteristics required for success in any career? “This question gives me an opportunity to learn more about the person I’m interviewing.”
  5. Describe the three professional accomplishments you are most proud of and why.I can start to recognize patterns in how they work, think, communicate with others, and what they are motivated by.”
  6. What are the last three books you read?People who read learn faster, contribute more ideas and make better employees!”

Surprise Contenders
Questions that “throw the candidate off guard,” make them “think on their feet,” or that they “never expect” were very popular. Take a look-see at some of the most, um, unique.

  1. Can you milk a goat? Why or why not? “This is a way to get to know the candidate by discussing a “funny” challenge.”
  2. If you were a cartoon character, who would you be and why? “More than likely, the candidate has not ’prepared’ for this question to be asked. Their answer should give you some insight as to their overall personality.”
  3. If I asked you to paint a 10 x 10 room with squares 1″ by 1″ how would you begin?This question will allow you to see how the applicant would approach a project, whether they are more executive level, management level or staff level thinkers.”
  4. If you were a cucumber in a salad, and someone was about to eat you, what would you do?This question catches people off guard and they let some of their personality show, and it lets you know something about their work ethic.”
  5. Tell me three things you can do with a paper clip besides hold papers together. “Their reaction to this question often gives a good glimpse of their overall personality and not just their approach to rehearsed questions.”
  6. If you were a performer in a circus, what would your role be and why? “It can throw the candidate off a bit, and you can read their reaction to something they didn’t expect. If they are able to go with the flow and answer, it shows adaptability and confidence.”

What are your favorites – or least favorites – from these lists? Any that you think we overlooked?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
Judy Nutter
Judy Nutter

I had exactly the same thought about question #3. How do you judge levels of management thinking from this question?

Judy Nutter
Judy Nutter

I had exactly the same thought about question #3. How do you judge levels of management thinking from this question?


Question #3 of the bizarre list. What could the possible answers be to show the different levels of management?

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