7 Curveball Job Interview Questions Real Managers Are Asking
Sure, you’ve memorized the company background and prepared a list of intelligent, job-related questions to ask your future boss (fingers crossed). But what about the Qs you weren’t expecting? We talked to real managers to find out the under-the-radar interview questions interviewees can expect.
If You Were a Sport, What Sport Would You Be?
“If the open role is for a team-focused position, I want to hear that they would be soccer or field hockey—or anything that requires you to be one piece of the puzzle—and that you work well with other team members. Bonus points if you name a position that aligns with the role you’re interviewing for. For example, if I need a playmaker, I’m looking for a center-mid. If I need someone to hit goals, I’m looking for a forward.”
— Kate Westervelt, Director of Content Strategy, Purple Carrot
What Do You Hate Most About [Insert Relevant Industry Here]?
“For example: ‘What do you hate most about the financial services industry?’ As we seek to transform the financial services industry, we want passionate people who are driven to take on that very challenging mission with us. The best way to uncover what someone stands for is to learn what they are against.”
— Priya Malani, Founder, Stash Wealth
What Animal Best Represents You?
“This usually yields some fun and telling—and occasionally weird—responses. A solid answer all comes down to how you justify the animal you choose. For example: If you say you’re a lion, how does that relate to the job you’re taking on? It’s all about the why.”
— Lauren Gniazdowski, Editoria
If I Asked the Last Person You Worked for to Describe Your Biggest Strength and Weakness, What Would They Say?
“It’s a twist on the typical strengths/weaknesses Q since you have to think about what a recent boss would say. Still, the same rules apply: It’s all about turning the negative into a positive. For example, ‘I am the type of person who spends extra time on a project to yield the best results. This is both a strength and a pitfall. I always want to be sure I give every project my all.’”
— Kristen Pecci, HR Recruiter, Macmillan
At This Point in Your Career, What Can You Say with Confidence That You Have Mastered (While of Course Recognizing That We All Are Never Done Learning?)
“My dream response would include specifics about the person’s strengths. For example, something like: ‘I have mastered the art of listening to what business leaders want to accomplish and their concerns about barriers to getting there.’ More importantly, the answer would follow up with real examples and how they’re relevant for the role.”
— Toni Thompson, Head of HR and Talent, The Muse
What Is Your Story?
“We are in the business of helping brands communicate their stories and every story starts with the people. The question opens people up to talking about what motivates them and what they care about. I’m looking for people with depth, not just practitioners. And so, there’s no ‘right’ answer. Within each person’s story, I find their passion.”
— Liz Kaplow, President and CEO, Kaplow
What Do You Like to Do Outside of Work?
“It seems like a simple question, but people usually don’t come to an interview with a well-thought-out answer for it, so I can learn a lot from both how they think through their answer and what they say they actually like to do. It’s always interesting to find out what people like to do outside of work and it gives me a better sense of who they are as a person and potential future employee.”
— Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich, Managing Partner, Masthead Media