Getting an interview in this economy is tough enough! You went to the best schools, received good grades, have a high demand degree and some good experience.. You want to get a job that will pay well and have a future. In this economy, there is a lot of competition with other well qualified people. How can you distinguish yourself frmo everyone else in the interview?
Believe it or not, the goal of an interview is to make it to the next interview. In this economy, multiple interviews are the norm! In many companies, there can be as many as five or six interviews. There are so many qualified candidates; companies use various tactics to find the most qualified. You could probably find as many as five to ten highly qualified people for each job opening. What does an employer do?
The current rage of asking weird questions is not new! High technology companies have been doing it for decades. It is not just the high tech companies either, it is a lot of companies who are faced with too many candidates for too few jobs. It is their way of selecting the best employees for the company. Companies have spent a lot of time to figure out what skills are necessary to perform the job well.
In addition, they uncovered more data to predict what is necessary to be successful and promotable in the company. The basis for all interview questions (including the weird ones) is to find out how you think. Many of the questions have more than one answer and often, they are more concerned with your reasoning rather than the right answer. If you can justify your answer, you are more likely to advance to the next interview.
If you keep advancing, you are more likely connecting with the interviewer(s). It may be your answers or something else! Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft etc. are using these questions to help them find the one out of 1,000 applicants. They have so many applicants for very few openings. They have been successful using these questions to find the best people.
How do you get through this screening process and successfully get hired? I suppose you could practice all the questions that are out there, but there are always more questions. My suggestion is to research the company, job description and interviewer (if known). They saw something on your resume, aware of your skills by reputation or through networking which identifies you as a qualified candidate.
You role is to persuade the interviewer that you are the best choice for the position. On the other hand, the employer is trying to select the best candidate by asking good relevant questions and assessing the answers to find the best choice. Weird questions such as “Why are manhole covers round?” may or may not help the company find the best candidates.
Six tips for doing your best
- Research, research, & research! – Learn all you can about the company, the internet is a huge research for learning about public and private companies. Learn about the reputation of the company within the industry too. I have even called the company and asked questions of various people in the company such as the person who answers the phone, customer service, sales/marketing or Human Resources. Last, don’t forget to ask for the job description. This is the most important document because you need to match your skills and experience with the job.
- Practice, practice, & practice! – Take all your research and analyze, memorize and prepare for the interview. The interview is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from the rest of the candidates. You can practice the questions and your answers so you can relax in the interview. If you are comfortable with the information, you will be confident and relaxed. Remember, there will be questions that you could not prepare for, but you can draw on your experience to answer them.
- Ask questions – Asking questions demonstrates that you are seriously interested in the company and the position. The employer or interviewer learns a great deal about you from your questions. I recall candidates who dwell on salary or benefits thinking these are appropriate, instead they just disqualified themselves. Your questions should be thoughtful and insightful! What kind of impression do want the interviewer have of you?
- Connect with the interviewer – If you cannot connect with the interviewer, you will not be hired. The old adage of employer hiring people they get along with is true! Don’t be a fake, but find a way to connect. Generally, interviewers provide some information about the company or themselves that you can ask some question to connect. Look around the office, there are always personal things you can talk about.
- Listen, listen & listen – You should really listen to the questions! There are usually hints that may help you answer the questions. Listen when the interview is just giving you an overview because there may be something you may include in your answer or will help you answer the question. Take notes, but ask if it is okay. Paying attention to the nonverbal communication too. The interviewer cannot hide their feelings. You may have to resell your qualifications, but better than missing your opportunity.
- Bring samples of your work – When I interviewed , I always brought samples of my work. I started that forty (40) years ago! It is the best way to add substance to your conversation. It also changes the interview dynamic. Instead of the interviewer controlling the questions, you suddenly are in charge. More importantly, it creates credibility to your skills. When I have an opportunity to discuss my work samples, I almost always receive a job offer.
Weird questions may be the rage now, but I asked questions using scenarios when I interviewed candidates forty (40) years ago. I wanted to know how the prospective employee would handle problems or issues when I was not around. I wanted employees who could think and problem solve without direct supervision. Nothing has changed in forty (40) years! Every employer from Google to the smallest employer wants people who can do the job and handle more! The interview is one of the first steps!
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