Top 10 Tricky Interview Questions

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Have you ever been stumped by an interview question, or do you have an interview coming up and are shaking in your stilettos or suit and tie just thinking about it?  Then listen to the experts.

1) Would this time commitment work for you?

Vice President of Broadcasting for the Baltimore Ravens, Larry Rosen, says “never promise something in an interview situation that you can’t deliver in a work situation.”  This means that if the hours or days really do not work for you, you have to say so.  Yes, this does mean that you might not get the offer, but this also means that the position might not be right for you.  Being honest could pay off though; Rosen remembers hiring a girl for a paid game day job because he was so impressed with her even though she said that she could not make the internship hours.

2) What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

Amy Lewkovich, Baltimore Blast Director of Public and Community Relations, says that a great response she’s used is, “I sometimes take on too much responsibility at one time and find myself unable to give 100% of my efforts to one project and instead have had to divide my attention to multiple projects.”  She explains that this answer, although “stating a weakness, also makes it clear that I’m a competent multi-tasker who is able to work under pressure.”

3) Do you have any questions for me?

Although interviewers typically ask this as a closer, it does not diminish its importance.  You can use this time to show that you did your homework and are forward thinking.  Rosen explains that a great question for an interviewee to ask would be an intelligent one that indicates that the student is thinking about the future and what his or her work life would be like if he or she is given an offer.  Questions such as “what is your staff makeup like?”, “if the internship works out, what kind of next step would be available for me?,” and “what has your progression through the company been like so far?” would be excellent responses.  People always love talking about themselves.  One specific candidate, Rosen also remembers, pulled out a cd and asked if he would listen to the student’s songs.  “I like curious people.  I like interested people,” he says, so bring your personality and incite into your questions, within reason of course.  (*Note: do not perform a twenty minute tap dancing routine if you are applying for a lab research position.)

4) Why are you looking for a new job?

 “I’ve answered that there was little room for growth in my current position and that I expect more from myself than accepting that there is no room for improvement and advancement,” says Lewkovich.  In addition, she’s also said, “that while I enjoy my current job, I am no longer challenged by it and am looking for new ways to challenge myself and learn new things.”

5) What do you want to do in this business?

Obviously when it comes to broadcasting especially, there are many different ‘tracks’ that one could take in a career.  When students are answering this question, Rosen wants to see that you have career goals and a path laid out for yourself; you have a sense of where you want to go within the organization to which you are applying.  He likes to see that students have direction even if they do change their professional course in the end.  Rosen wants to hear I’m “fascinated by audio [and] make mix tapes for my friends, NOT I like t.v.”

6) What do you expect to learn from this position?

According to Lewkovich, the best answer to this question is “everything, since more often than not, an internship or even a just-out-of-school job is the student’s first experience with the type of work they are interviewing for.”  Just show a sincere passion and excitement for what you are going to learn and eventually master.

7) What would you do…in this situation in the field?

Rosen demands that you put your personal stamp on each project that you do.  He doesn’t want to hear what you think Katie Couric would do; he wants you to do what you think you should do.  Rosen reports that too many college students base their knowledge off of modeling, but he says that this can only go so far.  You need to be your own person and be creative with your own ideas to be successful.  For this question, Rosen is gauging your ability to be visionary, unique, and stylistic.  One student responded to his particular question that she just finished a graphic design class and would make graphics come to life.  He loved this.

8)  If you were working on a project with another person and that person was not doing his or her part, how would you handle the situation?

Lewkovich thinks that this is a great question.  This would be a fantastic opportunity to draw in one of your past experiences and show how you handled a similar situation.  An interviewer also asks this question to see how you interact with people and to evaluate if you can verbalize your ideas to see how effective you are at communicating in general.

9) Why do you want this position/why do you want to work for this company?

Rosen wants to know that you made the investment in the time that you spend together through research, meaning that you should know: what his department does, his title, and it might be nice to know that the Baltimore Ravens is a football team and not a racket ball club (minor details, you know).  You should also know a little bit about what the position entails.  Rosen jokes that many people apply to his internship because it is for the Baltimore Ravens; you should know if you are just going to be taking out the trash for an NFL team or if you are actually getting a hands-on experience like for the position in his department though.

10) How willing are you to jump into any project even one that holds no appeal whatsoever?

Lewkovich laments that she has to ask this question but does admit that it is necessary because there is always some undesirable task to be completed.  Rosen says that your “disposition and energy level are more important than the words that come out of your mouth.”  If you can be excited at finding a learning experience even in making the weekly photocopies, every employer would love to bring you onto their staff. 

“Upbeat, energetic, engaged, intelligent, [and] vibrant” with a “sparkle in your eyes [and] the hunger”–in the end, “if I have to look at you every day and you’re going to be on my staff, then I have to have you with these characteristics,” says Rosen.  

Sophomore > Marketing and Finance > University of Maryland

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