15 curly questions and how to answer them
Sometimes there are some curly questions we just don’t want to ask, or answer. But the trick is not so much avoiding the question, it’s how to make the curve ball swing to your advantage. You don’t have to be a politician to know how to make a question work for you. In fact, HR Development at Work principal consultant Bridget Hogg says that interviews are a chance to shine.
“A lot of people go into an interview thinking they’ll be asked a question to catch them out so they’re nervous… rather than confident that they have the skills that they require,” she says.
“This can be a time to shine.”
During the lifespan of a career, employees will also face questions they aren’t sure how to ask, such as the classic, “Can I have a pay rise”. In this example, whether you are successful or not, this is a chance to highlight your value to the company. But whatever the question, confidence and preparation are the key, Excel Recruitment national sales and marketing manager Nigel Smart says.
“Framing a response can be difficult for a lot of people and some people dig a hole for themselves in their response,” he says.
“Preparation will help you but also taking your time in responding. When given a difficult question it is quite acceptable to pause and not go into an answer that you haven’t thought about.
“Take a breather and think, `how can I answer this question, give my opinion but also frame it in a way that will meet the expectations of the person’.”
When asking a question, Smart says there are ways to lead into this cleverly and comfortably.
“Creating the right environment is important and also leading in with a discussion point with some other open questions,” he says.
Whether asking or answering, adopt a glass half-full attitude, take your time, prepare and deliver. CareerOne has consulted with some of the state’s leading experts to compile a list of questions and answers.
15 curly questions
• Can I have a pay increase?
You could put this back to the person asking the question to get them to outline their reasons for an increase.
• Why do you think you deserve a pay rise?
Rather than directly asking for a pay rise, say you think your remuneration should be reviewed against your performance and contribution.
• Would you like to make a formal complaint?
To get support from the employer, suggest something like “it would be appreciated if my complaint was handled in a professional manner according to company policy”.
• Do you use Facebook at work?
If you have and it’s against company policy then don’t add to the problem. If it’s allowed then say you restrict your use of social media to breaks.
• Do you think the workload is fair?
Regardless of if you do or don’t think your workload is fair the answer to this question requires a diplomatic answer.
• Can you do something for me (even if loaded up with work)?
Prioritising is key but it doesn’t do any harm to make an employer aware of your workload without it sounding like a complaint.
• What do you know about our organisation?
You should know products, industry size, reputation, history and locations. Check the internet, company website and annual reports.
• Why do you want to work for us?
Indicate that from your study of the company, many of the activities and problems are the sort that would give you a chance to contribute through your experience and skills.
• Don’t you feel you might be over-qualified or too experienced?
• What has been your greatest career disappointment? How did you cope?
Consider describing a time when you were unable to see a plan/project through to completion as a result of factors beyond your control.
• What important trends do you see coming in our industry?
Select one or two things that you see coming – “big picture” stuff. This is your chance to show you have thought about the future, the economics, the markets, and the technology of your industry.
• Why are you leaving your present job?
If it was because of economic circumstances, make that clear. If possible, explain how your termination was part of a larger movement. Stay away from analysing your friction points with your ex manager.
• What are your limitations?
Respond with a strength which if over-done, can get in your way and become a weakness.
• Tell me something about yourself.
This question is asking about you in relation to the job you have applied for, so you will want to let the interviewer know what qualities you have in relation to their vacancy.
• What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The key is to focus on your strengths and describe briefly a weakness not very relevant to the job you are applying for (or one that can be viewed as a strength, but be careful, too many people have admitted to being a perfectionist).