Behavior-based interview questions are designed to determine how you have or will react under pressure, your thought process, and how quickly you can come to a solution. It is difficult to prepare for this type of interview. Think about some of the more challenging situations that you have faced and how successfully you handled these. Be prepared with and practice sharing as many examples of your successes as possible.
Employers also dip into off-the-wall questions that they have used in the past and feel will expose your best (or worst) qualities during the interview rather than after hire. These types of questions are also difficult to prepare for. It is important to remember that your thought process and how you arrive at and communicate your answer may be more important than the answer you actually give.
Open-ended questions are often used to allow the opportunity for you to provide as much information as possible without the employer asking for it. “Tell me about yourself” is the most common open-ended question asked. Answer all questions from a professional and not a personal perspective. Always push your agenda: Your skills and abilities match what the employer is looking for.
- How old are you? Most Human Resource (HR) personnel would not ask this question, but a supervisor who is asked to interview you might. It may even come up in an informal, pre- or post – interview “chat.”
Some employers still discriminate against applicants who are too old or too young. Determine and address the interviewer’s concern without highlighting you didn’t answer than the actual question. Answer casually. For example: “Old enough to pride myself on my work ethic and to know when to ask questions of the right people.”
- How much do you want this job? Depending on who is asking whom, this question could give you the creeps! This is an example of what is most likely just a poorly framed question. The employer may be trying to determine your level of enthusiasm for the job – do you feel you are a good match?
Answer the intended question, “Tell me why you are the candidate we should hire for this position.” Clearly communicate your interest to the employer by saying, “So far this opportunity sounds perfect for me. Can you tell me more about ___________.”
- What religion are you?Again, HR might not ask such a question, but another interviewer might, especially if he or she is very religious. A Bible or other religious items displayed in the office might allow the employer a false sense of comfort with the inappropriate question.
It is important to remind you that a question is illegal if you are not hired because of your answer. The flip side is that if you share a strong religiosity in common and you feel comfortable answering the question- it could help you. If you don’t want to answer the question simply indicate that you are very anxious to get started with the interview and/or hear more about the position and the company.
- What is your Facebook password?This is a strange question, but employers do actually ask this! Social media and what you share with them have definitely been in the spotlight for hiring managers.
If this question comes up, state that it is your policy, for personal security, to never share any passwords. Reassure the interviewer that you are aware of the impact of social media on your professional life and the company’s business.
- Are you married?This question is also often asked during an informal that period rather than as a formal interview question. Some employers view married candidates as more stable, others lean toward hiring unmarried people as they feel they will be available to work more hours.
If you feel your marital status may work against you, answer carefully. Use the stock answer, “Hmm, I can honestly say I have never been asked that in an interview.” OR “What are employers thinking about marriage in the workplace these days?” Be sure you can carry it off without coming across as flippant.
- Would you consider relocating? Employers that have difficulty staffing undesirable locations may employ a kind of “bait and switch.”A job advertisement may indicate the job is in an ideal location (and the actual interview may take place there), but the job site is at an undesirable location. At some point, during the interview, this question may be asked as a bridge to disclose this fact to the candidate.
Answer this question by underlining your interest in the job and asking for more information. For example, “This position sounds like a great opportunity; can you tell me more about your potential needs in other areas?” If you have no interest in relocating you may want to seriously consider whether this position is a match for you.
- Do you take any medication? This may be a poor attempt to gauge any medical concerns or need for health insurance. An employer cannot discriminate against you due to a disability or health condition if you can do the job.
Answer this question carefully. You will want to stress that you can do the job without sharing private information that you don’t want to provide. Try to deflect this question by saying something like, “My health is under control.”
- Do you like my ___________?This can be a loaded question about anything off the wall. Interviewers are human and may interject their own agendas or needs into the interview. Even if it doesn’t make sense!
When in doubt clarify or ask the interviewer to restate the question. If it is irrelevant, this will give the interviewer a chance to regroup and save face. Either the question will be re-framed or a more relevant question asked.
It is imperative that you are always honest in an interview setting. Not only can even small fibs trip you up during the interview or in subsequent interviews, but it may be grounds for termination after hire. If your past is not perfect you may be tempted to shade the truth to enhance your chances of getting a job. This never works.
Make sure that your career and potential employer choices are realistic considering any blemishes in your background. If your choices are realistic, but blemishes in your background might prove challenging then develop answers to address those areas in a way that seems positive. Honesty in general is important to many employers, regardless of the industry or your circumstances.
- Have you ever taken any illegal drugs?If you are not prepared for this question you could blanch or blush whether or not you have ever done so! It is always important to not lie in an interview.
If you can’t answer, “No.” to this question then carefully craft an answer in your own words that make it clear you do not use or condone use of illegal drugs. Something like, “I do not use illegal drugs, no.” As always…practice, practice, practice.
10. Did you ever quit a job?An employer asking this question is likely trying to determine honesty and how quickly you think on your feet. Unless you have only had one job you have had to quit one or more, of course!
Answer this question by stressing that you “regret ending any good relationship, but you have had to give the notice to benefit your career.” This type of response shows your sense of loyalty and that you have goals.