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Favorite question: “We all have to break the rules sometimes. Tell me about a time you had to do so, and how did it turn out?”
Reason for asking: “Your response speaks volumes about your capacity for risk or your willingness to question assumptions. The best candidates have described covering for a staff member who needed to take care of a sick child or sharing a private business strategy with a trusted client. I watch for people who take the question in stride, ponder a moment and then describe a time when they made things better by showing flexibility and innovation.”
Favorite question: “Which publication is your favorite to read in your personal time?”
Reason for asking: “Our industry relies on media. I ask this question to get a better sense of who a person is beyond professional interests. Their selection can show a love for cooking or fitness, or if they’re more liberal or conservative.”
Favorite question: “What would you tip on a $335 bill? Can you talk out how you got your answer?”
Reason for asking: “From my experience, those who can do math in their head and on the spot end up being some of the best people in sales, development and support.”
Favorite question: “How would you handle a potentially dangerous situation?”
Reason for asking: “I want to know that my employees are ready to take control of a situation without panicking, and that they can help everyone feel comfortable, safe and secure.”
Favorite question: “What do you do for R and R?”
Reason for asking: “It shows your true values and if they’re in alignment with the company’s. It really speaks to who you are and what you are committed to.”
Favorite question: “When do you know it’s time to go home?”
Reason for asking: “It helps me to understand someone’s work ethic. I have received answers from ‘Well... what are your hours?’ (obviously, not a winning candidate) to ‘Once I get through my entire to-do list and have checked in with other teammates to see if there is something I can help them complete for the day.’ The answer to this question is very telling about whether someone works in a vacuum, is a clock watcher or considers herself to be a person who pitches in.”
Favorite question: “Name a time when you felt overwhelmed by a task.”
Reason for asking: “Artists are inventors, so the responses here can be very telling. I need to see that a candidate can persevere.”
Perfect résumé: Check.
A to Z factoids about the company: Check.
Professional blouse: Check.
Answer to hiring manager’s off-the-wall question: Um...
Even the most prepared candidates can get stumped during the interview process. After all, while you may have canned answers for the dreaded “What’s your weakness?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” queries, are you ready to tell a potential boss about your relationship with your mother or your policy on tipping at a restaurant?
We checked in with eight top execs from around the country to find out the questions they most like to ask candidates and why. Some are wacky. Some are refreshing. But all should be things you can answer without thinking twice.
Check out the list and start preparing your responses.
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