Job Interview Tips Professional Development

7 Interview Questions You’re Not Expecting

Written by Peter Jones

These days it’s not all about how good we look on paper. Skills and experience and results are very important, but workplace culture within companies is becoming an ever more important factor in the hiring process. And one of the ways interviewers can screen for this is by determining the emotional intelligence of their potential employees.

Emotional intelligence. You know, empathy, social skills, self-awareness. How you might comport yourself under pressure. How you might handle difficult situations. What kind of coworker you’d be. Etc.

Here are 7 questions that are probably trying to assess just that:

“What bothers you most about other people?”

This will give the interviewer valuable insight into how you perceive other people, and how you handle interpersonal conflict. You’ll want to be generous here, and not succumb to pettiness or venom. Take the higher road.

“Tell me about a day when everything went wrong.”

Everybody has bad days. What the interviewer wants to know most is whether you took it out on your coworkers, or crumbled under pressure—whether you were able to have a sense of humor about it. They’re hoping to find someone who can handle uncertainty and difficult situations without losing their cool.

“Tell me about a colleague whom you really got along with.”

What do you see in others? What traits do you value in friends and coworkers? If it seems like you have only forced, professional dealings at the office, they might think you’re on the stiffer side.

“What’s something you could teach me?”

Do you have any particular knowledge or skills that might be unique and useful in that workplace? If so, are you able to humbly and clearly pass that on to someone else? Can you communicate effectively? How’s your ego?

“Tell me about someone you admire.”

What you value most in others is very enlightening about who you really are. If you value the cutthroat backstabbing success-at-all-costs type, red flags might be going off. And if you value the plodding career desk-slumper, your interviewer might think you have no drive to push yourself to greater heights. There’s no real fudging this question, so be honest, but try and pick someone truly admirable.

“What are you most proud of?”

Can you highlight a particular achievement without being a total egotist? Can you speak of something good you did without humblebragging? Are you able to be gracious about the help you may have received along the way? Did you rest on your laurels, or use one success to nudge you gently toward other?

“If you were the boss, what kind of person would you hire?”

Not just for this job, but for any job. Telling an interviewer what you might value in an employee reveals to them a bit about who you might be as their employee. At very least, they’ll get a sense of what matters most to you in the workplace setting, and what sort of team you’d most like to be a part of.

About the author

Peter Jones