Wouldn’t it be great if you knew the exact questions you were going to get at your next job interview? There’s no way to predict that, of course, and so you just need to stay on your toes.
Glassdoor.com, a career development site, tracks job interview questions as reported by its users. It’s interesting to read some of the odd-ball questions employers will ask. Here’s a few:
- “If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?”
- “What songs best describe your work ethic?”
- “What two celebrities would you choose as your parents and why?”
It gets weirder from there, but it’s pretty evident some employers like gauging reactions to one or two un-anticipated questions in the hopes of gaining some deep psychological insight into your personality.
I was once asked, “If you were in a circus, what role would you feel most comfortable in – the Ringmaster, the Lion Tamer, The Tight Rope Walker, or a Juggler?”
How do you answer that? I think I just laughed and gave them what I thought the person in that type of job would need to be good at.
So don’t be too caught off guard by these kinds of questions. There’s really no great way to prepare for them other than to be true to yourself, be true to your personal brand.
Fortunately, most employers stick with many of the same ones. Glassdoor.com has done studies on that also and have come up with a list of most commonly asked interview questions. But I want to save you some time and just go with a top 10 list, along with a thought or two on how to respond to each.
The key to answering any question really depends on you. You really need to know your personal brand, the things that make you different so that you can accentuate those things in your responses.
In other words, it’s not necessarily about telling the interviewer what you think they want to hear – everyone will try to do that. You want to leave them feeling like they know who you are and how you are different.
Why did you leave (or are you leaving) your last job?
People leave jobs for lots of different reasons, pick a reason that is the least threatening or the one that is not a red flag to a potential employer. “I wanted to further advance my career” or “I’m looking for something a little closer to home” are great responses.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I wrote an entire article about how to respond to this and you can read that here. I give lots of strategies for responding to it – one of those is to turn a potential negative into a positive, for example: “At times I can be a bit of a perfectionist” or “Sometimes, I am overly optimistic”
What are your strengths?
This sounds easy, but it makes people squeamish to answer it. Focus on your top three personal brand traits and then give them a quick example or story of the top one. “I am great with kids. The other day I …”
Why should we hire you?
Hopefully you have done some homework on the practice because this is where you can show it by inserting your brand and an example of it with their philosophy. For example, “I noticed on your website that really care about the comfort of each patient. Me too. In fact, the other day I had a man who hadn’t seen a dentist in eight years and was terrified, so I …”
What motivates you?
Be especially genuine here. They want to hear you open up a bit and give a thoughtful response. Hopefully, you are motivated by something related to patient. For example, “I absolutely love the moment when I see the light bulb go off for patients and I know I’ve made a different in their preventative care.”
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
The easy response here is to simply say, “Working here at All Smiles Dentistry.” But dive a little deeper, and talk about relationships with patients and working as part of a team that improves the lives of those served.
Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it?
Be honest here, but I keep your mistakes more in the realm of how you handled a patient, and most importantly talk about what you learned from it. For example, “As I was greeting a patient one day, I pronounced her name wrong. She corrected me and smiled but I was embarrassed. Now as a matter of habit I review the names of patients scheduled each day in the morning and make sure I know how to pronounce their name.”
Tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of.
Be prepared to come with at least three or four examples or stories of accomplishments. Over your career, I would keep a log of these because there’s a good chance you will use them and they are powerful job hunting tools.
How do you handle a situation where a patient is not satisfied?
Think this through. How have you handled it? What’s the right way. Be ready to respond and think creatively. Some my say, “I just try and be really nice to them and bend over backwards.” That’s okay, but it’s better to be more specific and finish it with a story, “I try to find out the core of their concern and help them resolve and talk through it. One day we had a patient come in that was really unhappy about our…”
What questions do you have for me?
Too many job seekers use this as an opportunity to focus completely on the what’s-in-it-for-me (salary, benefits, etc.). Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to ask a question or two about that, but start by asking questions that help them know you are serious professional. For example, “What are a two or three attributes you are looking for in a great hygienist?” This type of response gives you chance to follow up with them about how you are a great match.