Competition for jobs is fierce, so it’s little wonder that some companies are going to greater lengths to select the best employees from hundreds of well-qualified applicants. This is particularly true of big corporations, whose quirky offices and employee perks mean that there’s huge interest in every job. Standard interview questions such as “where do you see yourself in five years?” don’t cut it on this scale, which is why some big brands are upping their game in the interview question stakes. Here are some examples and what you can learn from them as you prepare for a job interview in a company of any size.
“Do you know our CEO? How do you pronounce his name?”
Let’s start with a simple one. This two-part question, highlighted in this post from Kickresume, is clearly intended to reveal whether or not a candidate has done any research into Amazon and its story. It’s pretty much Rule Number One of interviews that you need to prepare by reading up about the company, and this is one way of weeding out candidates who haven’t. It’s easy enough to find out about Jeff Bezos with a quick Google search, but knowing how to pronounce his name suggests a deeper level of knowledge.
Tip: when you’re preparing for a job interview, see what you can find out about the company on YouTube as well as reading what they say about themselves on their own website. Not only will it help you pronounce key names correctly, but you might also find out what others have to say about the company for a more rounded view.
“On your very best day at work — the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world — what did you do that day?”
In an interview with Facebook’s Head of Recruitment, Miranda Kalinowski, Business Insider learned that this is the social network’s most asked interview question. The clever thing about this question is the fact that it gets candidates talking about what makes them feel happy and enthusiastic. By doing this, interviewers can better understand what motivates the interviewee – and whether this matches Facebook’s own priorities.
Tip: If you’re ever asked a question like this, use it as an opportunity to show off an achievement you’re proud of – even if it’s as simple as a customer being delighted with a solution you provided for their problem.
“Describe AdWords to a 7-year-old.”
This question from Google, one of a wealth of interview questions recorded by job candidates on the career website Glassdoor, is designed to test a couple of important attributes. Perhaps most obviously, it tests the candidate’s understanding of the product, highlighting whether they’ve done their research and have a thorough knowledge of what it does.
Secondly, it’s a test of the interviewee’s communication skills. The task is not just to explain what AdWords is and does, but to do so to a child. It’s therefore a great way for Google to assess whether someone is able to make a complex subject easy for anyone to understand.
Tip: Not every company will expect you to have thought enough about its product or service to be able to explain it to a child, but it’s always worth taking the time to understand their key offering. Having done your research, try explaining the company and its products or services to someone who knows nothing about the company and see whether they understand it.
“What challenges is Deloitte currently facing?”
According to Targetjobs.co.uk, this is a common question for consulting firm Deloitte, but it’s one that could equally apply to any company. It’s designed to show whether you’ve thought about the bigger picture and the market in which the company operates, as well as about the specific role for which you’re applying.
Tip: This is an opportunity for you to show that you not only understand and keep abreast of challenges affecting the business or the industry as a whole, but also that you can help the company face them. Research the industry – Google News is a good source of recent stories – and find out whether there are any big developments that could impact the company, and specifically the job you’re applying for. Then think about what your own knowledge and skills could bring to the table that could help the company deal with these challenges effectively.
“What didn’t you get the chance to include on your resume?”
This is the favourite interview question of Virgin boss Richard Branson, who explains in his book The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership: “Obviously a good CV is important, but if you were going to hire by what they say about themselves on paper, you wouldn’t need to waste time on an interview.” This question stems from Branson’s belief in hiring people who are the right “personal fit” with his organisation – something that it’s not usually easy to tell simply by looking at a CV. He’s interested in finding out about what potential employees are like as people, and that means giving them the chance to talk about interests and passions they may not have been able to include on their CV.
Tip: Your knowledge and skills aren’t the only thing that matter when it comes to applying for jobs. Companies want to know that you’re someone they’ll enjoy having in the office, so if the opportunity arises, don’t be afraid to share something of your personality and interests. If there’s an obvious link between a hobby and the job you’re applying for, even better, but the main thing is to show that you’re someone who’ll be interesting to be around and who’ll fit with the company culture.
Thinking in advance about how you might answer tricky questions is a great way to prepare for an interview, which will help you conquer any interview nerves. Take a look at our other posts on employment for lots more tips on applying for jobs.