We’ve all been there. You’re in an interview and expecting to be asked intelligent questions so you can show off your excellent preparation. But all of a sudden, you get a question so stupid that it throws you off your pins.
Here are a few of the silliest questions we have heard—and ways to answer them gracefully.
1. “Why do you want this job?”
It is possible to have a good answer to this that talks about your passion for the company and the position and the field, but it’s also a pretty stupid way to phrase it—and not particularly nuanced. Get your revenge by quickly explaining your keen interest and then deflecting by ending your answer with another question. Such as: “I’d really love to hear more about what you’re currently working on here…”
2. “Tell me a little bit about yourself”
Keep your response here short and sweet. Don’t actually talk about your life story. Instead, have an elevator pitch ready to encapsulate your career story—where you’re coming from and why you’re a perfect fit. Focus on the professional and finish it off painlessly and quickly.
3. “Why should we hire you over all our other applicants?”
You can’t compare yourself to the other qualified applicants. You have no idea who they are or what their resumes look like. All you can do with this question is sell yourself. I.e. “I don’t know about the others, but I can tell you why you should hire me.” And then just pivot to your talents and value.
4. “What should we know that isn’t on your resume?”
This is a curveball, and there are a lot of stupid ways to answer it, but it can also be a gift. Here’s your opportunity to explain gaps in employment, or to emphasize skills or experiences that would be relevant to this job but maybe didn’t make the cut on your documents. Frame your answer to show how you’d be great at this job.
5. “How honest are you?”
This one is a real doozy. Who in their right mind would say: “Not at all; I’m a total liar.”? Get out of this one by giving a short and straightforward statement about your high ethical standards and remind your interviewer about your available references.
6. “Describe yourself in three words.”
This is an invitation to put yourself in a box. It won’t be particularly illuminating for either of you. Try to think of qualities that show you off in a particularly good light. And refrain from saying: “Ask better questions.”
7. “If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?”
The biggest trick here is to not make a face. Come up with something related to your professional strengths, then move on.
8. “What was your salary at your last job?”
Most applicants will feel compelled to answer this—and you really don’t have to. Fire it back this way: “I’m currently looking for jobs with an annual salary of around $X. Does that correspond with your salary range?”
9. “What would your former manager say about you?”
If they really wanted to know, they could call and ask for a reference. Also, your former manager might not be someone worth asking! The answer here depends entirely on the kind of person/employer your former boss was. Ignore the inanity of the question and say something positive and truthful.
10. “How badly do you want this job?”
Ugh. Answer honestly and you might sound desperate. Play it cool, and you might sound indifferent. Try to keep it in the middle. Say how confident you are that you would be an asset there, and then voice your enthusiasm and passion for the company or position and reassert your eagerness to move forward in their hiring process.
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