Do you ever worry about the questions that you might be asked in a job interview?

I once did three hours of coaching with someone with a Ph.D. who was applying for a job in London. She was a German national who wanted to return to Europe, so a lot was riding on this interview! We decided on a strategy, did extensive company research, and then practiced her general responses because we knew what the company was looking for in an employee. They flew her to Washington, D.C., and she went into the interview with confidence that she had prepared as much as possible.

She called me immediately after she got out of the interview. One of the questions they asked her was, “Why are manhole covers round?” We both laughed! Funny enough, if you Google this question, you will find multiple answers!

There was no way to anticipate that kind of a question, as it had absolutely nothing to do with the job for. But it was an effective way to determine how well she could think on her feet.

Like many Europeans, my client was fluent in multiple languages. This was one of the reasons the company was interested in her. Right off the top, the interviewer walked in and unexpectedly conducted the interview in Spanish! Which was fine because my client could easily conduct high-level business in that language. However, we did not anticipate that they would also be specifically assessing her language skills as part of the interview process (certainly not in that way).

Long story short, she got the job and moved all the way from Florida to London!

The “moral” of this story is that you can most effectively prepare for an interview by understanding the hiring criteria, rather than studying lists of possible questions. Most interviewers are just trying to get to know you, your qualifications, and how well you would fit into their organization. After you’ve analyzed the hiring criteria, then you can try to anticipate questions you might be asked.

Always keep in mind that an interview is simply a two-way conversation. Your job is to clearly communicate why you are the BEST person to do the job, not just whether or not you CAN do it.

I love doing interview coaching because I get to hear back from my clients later, telling me that they got the job! If you are getting ready now for a specific upcoming interview, contact me to schedule an appointment so I can help you prepare. Or, if you’ve recently had multiple interviews that did not turn into job offers, we can assess what happened and put together a new strategy.