These Interview Questions Are Trick Questions. Do You Know Why?

IMG_1361When I work with language students who are preparing for networking events and interviews, we break the questions into categories, two of which are: broad general questions and specific questions that require detailed illustrations to answer.

Today’s post is about the broad general questions.

The first thing to know about these questions before you even start designing answers is that they are all “trick questions.” If you were asked any of these questions, would you know what you’re really being asked? Would you be ready to answer them? 

Here are a few commonly-asked general questions from interviews and what they really mean:

1) What do you do? does not mean “I am a ____ [fill in the blank with a profession or job title.]”

You have to describe what it is that you do.

Here’s my answer: I train students to highlight their foreign language and cultures studies in their job search materials and interview prep so that they are standout candidates in competitive job markets.

From that description, anyone can understand the profession. And it’s a great way to keep a conversation going.

2) Tell me about yourself. This is not your life story–where you were born, how you grew up, your favorite hobbies and pets.  

This is a short, clear, concise summary of your background, experience, and professional history as related to the particular position you are interviewing for at the moment. 

3) Why should we hire you? The key here is to make your answer about them, not about you.  And this is a great place to bring in foreign language studies because chances are most companies have some international interests given the global position of most workplaces.

If you’ve done your homework, you know what their international interests are.

  • Tell them what you know about them & their international interests: “I know your company… 
  • What’s an unmet need that they have? A hole in their international work? A plan for growth, expansion, or improvement?   Use specific experiences you’ve had in your language courses, travel, study abroad, or community service & volunteer experiences to illustrate how you meet that need that they have.
  • Tell them how you would apply your experiences to their situation.

That’s why they should hire you!  Because you are uniquely equipped to make it all about them.


Darcy Lear is a Chicago-based career coach specializing in training students to highlight their language studies so they standout in the job search and workplace. For one-on-one coaching or to set up a workshop, contact Darcy: darcylear@gmail.com
 
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8 Responses to These Interview Questions Are Trick Questions. Do You Know Why?

  1. Ann says:

    Another great post, Darcy. Students should also remember that their language skills are important not just for international business but for doing work with Spanish speakers within the US. Even if those people also speak English, speaking Spanish is a great way to set yourself–and the company–apart.

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