I was preparing for an interview this morning with a potential new client and the familiar “knowledge gap paranoia” started creeping in. You know, the paranoia that your interviewer will possess a super power to scan your thoughts, precisely locate knowledge gaps, and ask you a question that you have NO IDEA HOW TO ANSWER, no matter how qualified or prepared you are for the position.
The truth is that everyone has knowledge gaps, and any hiring manager or recruiter worth their salt isn’t going to try to trick you into making a mistake or penalize you for not having exact statistics off the top of your head (although there are certainly exceptions).
That being said, you might be asked questions that you didn’t prepare for, questions that might even seem irrelevant or unimportant initially because they are designed to get a peek “under the hood” and insight into how you might work within a team rather than just discussing your qualifications. Here are three such questions I’ve received in real interviews, and my advice on how to answer them.
PS: I got the job!
On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the most unlucky and 10 being the luckiest, how lucky are you?
I remember I asked the recruiter to repeat herself because I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly. After pausing to think (it’s always okay to pause to think – you don’t have to start talking immediately!), I realized that in order to answer this question, I had to first accept that in the universe of this question, luck exists, it has an impact on my life and I am qualified to make an accurate reading of how lucky I am. This question requires an understanding of the big picture as well as the reality of chance, and will give the recruiter insight into how appreciative I am of the opportunities I have received vs. a sense of unearned entitlement (a trait that Gen Y is notorious for, BTW). In the end, I went with 10, briefly citing the things in my life I am thankful for and kept the answer as short and genuine as possible.
What makes you angry?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been waiting your whole life for someone to ask you this question so that you can pull out the list of grievances you’ve been composing since you were 15 and begin a dramatic recitation. Unfortunately, this interview is not the time for that, so put the scroll away. To answer this question, think of anger as a tool. This question leads to an understanding how you take challenges and negative feelings and use them to move forward. Don’t complain; cite something specific in which you utilized or could utilize anger as a mighty motivator to forge a solution.
If you weren’t [working in your current field], what would you be doing?
It’s tempting to wax poetic with these types of questions, but don’t go down the sentimental path of how you wanted to be an acrobat when you were a child. Think of this opportunity as your best chance of expounding upon extra skills that will differentiate you from the competition, especially if it’s something that will make you particularly memorable.