8 Most Memorable Interview Questions and How to Respond
To help you ace your next interview, we asked eight professionals, including CEOs, Career Coaches, and HR specialists, to share their most memorable interview questions and their advice on how to handle them. From handling common interview questions to using the STAR Method for leadership questions, these experts provide invaluable insights into navigating the interview process.
- Handling Common Interview Questions
- Addressing Career Regrets
- Approaching Unusual Queries
- Preparing for Executive Interviews
- Relaxing During Offbeat Questions
- Discussing Disagreements with Bosses
- Connecting Answers to Key Qualifications
- Using the STAR Method for Leadership Questions
Handling Common Interview Questions
Job interviews can be daunting, and some questions are particularly memorable. One such question is the classic, “Tell me about yourself.”
It’s crucial to craft a concise, yet engaging, response highlighting your professional background, achievements, and how they align with your interviewing role. Another commonly asked question is, “What is your greatest strength?” This presents an opportunity to showcase your skills and competencies, ideally aligning them with the job’s requirements and providing specific examples to support your claims.
Conversely, “What is your greatest weakness?” requires careful handling. Candidates should choose a weakness that is not a deal-breaker for the role and demonstrate their commitment to self-improvement.
Preparing thoughtful responses to these memorable interview questions is essential for job seekers looking to make a positive impression on potential employers and increase their chances of landing the job.
Addressing Career Regrets
“What is something you are not proud of in your career?”
There are three key aspects to consider when answering this question:
Don’t pretend your career was perfect. Instead, share an authentic example that will show that you have self-awareness and that you have improved with time.
Don’t mention something that is directly related to the job you are applying for, and that will make the recruiter doubt you are a good fit. For example, if the job you are applying for now requires constant customer service support, sharing that “you regret working too long in a company that had terrible clients because that was draining your energy and affecting your health” is probably not the smartest answer.
Use the 20-80 rule. Use 20% of the time only to state the fact or situation you are not proud of, and the other 80% to share what you did to change it, what you learned from this situation, and how you handle it now.
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Approaching Unusual Interview Queries
I remember being asked what kind of animal I believe I am most like. While it was memorable, it wasn’t exactly my favorite question. Honestly, I can’t remember my answer, but my advice to someone who is asked a similar question would be this:
A company isn’t looking for a specific answer. They don’t care as much about what you identify as your animal, but rather how you came to that answer. This applies to more than just the animal question. Consider how you approach answers to interview questions. Many interviewers want to observe your thought process to get there.
Preparing for Executive Interviews
The hardest question I’ve ever been asked in an interview was, “Tell me something impressive.”
This came from an executive, and it was his opening question! It totally caught me off guard, and I completely fumbled the answer.
What it did teach me, though, is that I need to prepare for my interviews with executives differently than other interviews. Executives are less interested in your skills and far more interested in how you think.
So, going forward, I now look up the latest industry news before going to any executive interview. And, while I’ve never been asked, “Tell me something impressive,” when I’ve gotten similar questions from other executives, I’m much more prepared with a smart answer.
The lesson here is: prepare for every interview based on who you’ll be talking to, not just based on the company you’re interviewing for.
Relaxing During Offbeat Questions
Years ago, a hiring manager asked me where I preferred to do my shopping. We were wrapping up the interview, and the question seemed to come out of left field. Startled, I began calculating what she might really be asking. Was this about my future salary? A way to gauge my financial responsibility? A check on my creativity?
Then she followed up—turns out, she loved my suit and wanted to buy a similar fit for her husband. I explained where my mind had gone, and we both laughed. It was a good reminder to stay relaxed and not look too deeply for a hidden meaning in every interview query.
Discussing Disagreements with Bosses
One of the most memorable questions that was asked of me was, “Tell me about the last time you had a disagreement with your boss and how did you go about it?” This struck me the most because I knew I couldn’t speak ill of my former boss, yet I had to give a definite event when this happened.
Hence, I ended up telling them about a project that got delayed because of miscommunication with my former boss and reiterated that we could solve the issue by thoroughly discussing the event that transpired and where we could have done better.
We did this with the presence of a mediator, so everything was recorded and there was someone to guide us through our discussion. This was how I shared a specific event and answered their question fully, without painting a bad image of someone else.
Connecting Answers to Key Qualifications
Early in my career, I recall being asked, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?” This was before I was a career and interview coach, so I merely answered the question. Looking back, I would’ve approached the question much differently and recommend that job seekers do the same.
As you prepare for the job interview, develop a half-dozen talking points you want to ensure that you convey during your conversation. These talking points should build upon the job posting, your company research, and what sets you apart from other applicants.
Then, when asked a question during the interview, connect your answers back to your talking points, rather than simply answering the question. This approach ensures you highlight your strengths and unique qualifications throughout the interview, even if the recruiter or hiring manager never explicitly asks about them.
Using STAR Method for Leadership Questions
I’ll always remember a question from my very first interview for a management role. I had zero experience, and when they asked me to “describe a time when you showed leadership,” I panicked.
Looking back, I think I did what I would advise today. I told them a short anecdote about an experience I had leading a group of hikers during a camping expedition. When telling a story about yourself like this, it’s important to structure your story to showcase your skills and achievements, even if they aren’t work-related. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) if you need a bit of help doing this.
Emphasize transferable skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability. These skills can be valuable in any job, even if you lack direct experience.
Landing a job with little experience is difficult but a crucial step that needs to be taken, so be confident and show them how good you are!
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