A woman applied for a job with a major airline. During her interview, she was asked to draw a town, with everything the town needed to thrive. She drew a town with houses and shops, a fire department, a hospital, offices and restaurants, even a lake for water. But she wasn’t hired. Why? She hadn’t included a road leading into and out of the town. Her town wasn’t connected to the rest of the world.
You may find this result a bit unfair. “Anybody could forget to put in a road”, you might say. But the successful candidates had included not only roads but train stations and… airports. Because a town without connections to other towns is doomed. Transportation is vital to a town – and it’s the whole reason an airline exists!
Fortunately, not every interview tactic is as tricky as the “Draw a perfect town” one. But the answers you give to even the simplest questions reveal a lot about your approach to life.
4 of the most revealing questions interviewers ask
Savvy recruiters don’t just ask standard questions about your strengths and weaknesses, or where you see yourself in five years. They ask carefully curated questions that let them see “the real you”.
1. “What do you know about our company?”
This one seems easy, doesn’t it? You just describe the core activity of the company, right? Wrong! If that’s all you know, the interviewer realizes you haven’t done your homework. He knows you haven’t read the company’s website or its literature. And he knows you’re not fully invested in his company’s culture.
2. “What is the one adjective your colleagues would use to describe you?”
It’s difficult to say what you think others would say about you—especially if you think your interviewer is going to call your references! Your response will tell your interviewer a lot not only about how you think others see you, but about how you see yourself. Even if you think your colleagues would call you “weird” rather than “delightful”, say so. An honest response will demonstrate your self-awareness. And you’ll have time afterwards to explain your answer.
3. “Are you a starter or a finisher?”
If you answer immediately, your interviewer will know you’re a starter. But if you ponder, then you’re probably a finisher. While there’s no wrong answer to the question, there are wrong ways to go about answering it. Says Adryanna Sutherland, Presidentof gyro creative agency, “I once had a candidate keep me in suspense for seven minutes of complete and agonizing silence, only to finally reveal they’re a starter!” Hmmmm…really?
4. “How would you improve our product/service?”
This is a question where your response could get you the job or send you straight home. Interviewers are looking for two things from you here: whether you’ve ever actually used their product (if you say “Oh, it’s already just peachy the way it is!”, well, hasta la vista, baby), but if you really do know their product or service, you’ll say something like “It’s great the way it is, but I think it could be even better if you added (name a feature) to it”.
Remember: interview questions aren’t designed to “trap” you, they’re meant to reveal who you really are to see if you and the company are a good fit. If you’re open, honest, and prepared, you’ll be able to answer them all, intelligently and convincingly.