Top secret job interview questions | Are you ready to get hired?

by Betty Lochner on May 15, 2012

Kalli’s graduation cap

My daughter, Kalli Mae, graduated from Whitworth college this week with a degree in elementary education!  I’m so proud of her — now she is launching into the next phase of here life — finding a “real” job.  I have been writing a series dedicated to her and new graduates everywhere finding themselves thrust into the job market. Here’s my latest installment in my  “Getting a job after college” series.

Last week I shared my top tips for preparing for your interview.  I’ve also written about job search tips, how to make a good first impression, and additional ways to find a job, and common interview mistakes.

Now, I’m ready to share my top secret all time favorite interview questions I have used over the years.  Some of these are classics – ones you’d expect. Others aren’t. These are the ones you should pay particular attention to.  Though they may be worded differently, or have a different slant or tone, you’ll find most of them will show up in your interview in some way.

My Top 10 Top  Secret Interview Questions

Okay, so these aren’t really a secret.  But, if you explore them a bit, and practice them with someone you trust to give honest feedback, you will be well ahead of the game.

So, here we go — in addition to questions about your resume, qualifications, and skill set, you will most likely be asked a variation of most of these.

  1. Tell us about yourself.
  2. Tell us what you know about this organization.
  3. Why do you want to work here?
  4. How would you describe your work style?
  5. How do you effectively communicate with and relate to people with different backgrounds?
  6. Give an example of a stressful work situation you’ve been in. How did you handle it?
  7. Describe a project you have worked on in a team. What was your primary responsibility in the project completion? What was the outcome of the project?
  8. Is there anything else you want to share with us that will help us in making this hiring decision?
  9. What do you see as your greatest weaknesses?
  10. Why should we hire you?
Here’s a good little video that share some responses to some of the classic questions (1, 3, 9, 10).
What they can’t ask you
Interview questions should only be about your qualifications, skills and  ability to do the job.  It is illegal to ask questions about nationality, age, religion, marital and family status, gender, health and physical abilities, though they may  find some creative work arounds.
What if they ask anyway?
If you get asked a personal question, go with it and show your personality if it’s something you are comfortable answering.  If you are not comfortable with the question, you can provide very basic information in response and then move on to another topic. It’s also perfectly appropriate to say “that’s not something I’m prepared to talk about here.”  The bottom line: think about what you will say if you get an uncomfortable question BEFORE you get asked it.
A final tip
After you have answered each question, check to make sure that they got the information they need.  Ask, “does that answer your question?”, or, “do you want more examples?”

Most hiring managers know that the best candidate is not usually the best qualified, but the best fit for the position.  Having the right skill set is just part of the equation. The person needs to fit with the culture and demonstrate a personality that will work with the team.

So, go out there an be yourself!

Do you have a favorite interview question? Please share it in the comments below!


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. It’s also now available on Kindle!



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