Have you ever walked into a job interview feeling totally prepared, only to be stumped by a tricky surprise question? You’re not alone.
Two recent Quora threads discussed the questions, “What is the toughest interview question thrown at you, and how did you answer it?” and “What are some examples of great interview questions?” To help you tackle your next interview with confidence, we pulled together some of the most surprising Qs being asked behind closed doors—as well as Quora users’ interpretations and real-life answers.
1. “Do you think you’re a lucky person?”
There are two things you want to avoid here: attributing all of your successes to luck and coming across as cynical. “I thought about this for a few seconds and came to the conclusion that they must be gauging whether I’m an optimist or a pessimist,” Quora user Philemon Onesias says. “I decided to show them I’m the former, but still quite realistic.”
2. “If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you change?”
If you think this sounds like a spin on the classic “greatest weakness” question, you’re right. “Professionally, I answered, ‘I don’t think I’d change anything,’” Erin Millano says. “‘I’ve learned a lot in the past 10 years and [it’s] all helped me grow.’”
3. “What are your salary requirements—both short-term and long-term?”
Talking salary is tricky, but talking salary for both the present and future is even trickier. Kate Ross Myers took an open and honest approach with her answer: “I just truthfully said, ‘I did not expect this question.’ I guess it worked, because I’m still working for the same company.” Our take: Give a short-term range, and keep the rest vague. Something like, “I think starting in the range of X and Y is fair—and of course I’d expect an appropriate increase after my annual performance reviews.”
4. “Tell me about a time in your life when you actually failed at something.”
The best way to answer this toughie? ’Fess up about your failures. “After interviewing over a 100 people in my career, this is the question that literally separates contenders from pretenders,” James Hritz says. “It’s interesting how many candidates are loath to admit they have ever failed at anything!”
5. “What can you teach us?”
This question can be pretty illuminating for both the interviewer and interviewee: When Divya Prabhakar was asked, “What can you teach us?” in a job interview, she realized she actually wasn’t a great fit for the company. “It showed me the company valued an interactive and mutual working environment, and if I wanted to have a positive experience there, rather than feel inferior, I should be able to answer this question easily,” she says.
6. “Tell us the most effective approaches for managing you.”
What management style helps you work best? This question, from Quora user Branko Marusic, forces you into the shoes of your potential superiors. “The company wants to ensure that every new employee has the best chance of succeeding,” he explains.
More from Levo.com: