Interviews can make your palms sweat, your mind go blank and send butterflies fluttering away in your stomach. They're nerve-wracking because you never know what the interviewer might ask.
So what if they ask a REALLY tough, odd, or personal question? Here are some examples and the best ways to tackle answering them!
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act does NOT prohibit an employer from asking about an applicant's age. They may also ask questions such as when you graduated high school or college. It is currently legal for them to inquire.
However, it is 100% illegal for the employer to take that information (graduation date, age, etc.) and discriminate based on that individual's age. For example, saying, "You are too old for this role."
Smile and keep it light. If you don't feel comfortable telling them, don't! When the interview is over you can make your decision, but the fact that they felt the need to ask that question should speak volumes about who they are as a company! Stick to something like "That is a great question, but I prefer to keep that to myself." You could always take the humorous approach and say, "It looks like my anti-wrinkle cream is working" or other funny responses!
This type of question may seem innocent (the interviewer MAY be making polite conversation), but chances are they are likely asking to determine how dedicated and focused you will be as their employee. It is illegal for an employer to use this information against you!
Turn that question around! Say, "That's an interesting question, but maybe you can help me understand why it might be important. I guess I've never been asked that before, but I want to know what matters in this position." The interviewer will be left to answer why that question is relevant and how it pertains to the position.
If that doesn't work or you don't feel comfortable saying that, simply respond that you do your best to keep work and personal matters separate.
Employers will ask questions like this to try and understand how you deal with difficult situations. It can be hard to figure out how to answer this in a clear and confident manner.
Many experts suggest using the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method when navigating this question. Give them a brief summary of the situation you faced, your role in the problem, the action you took and how it was ultimately resolved.
"I worked as a supervisor at a shoe store downtown. A customer had ordered a pair of shoes online and had them delivered to the store where they were accidentally purchased by a different customer. Before I called the customer who placed the order online, I was able to find the same shoes from one of our other locations. I had them overnight shipped to her house and called her to explain the situation. She was understanding and wrote a great review!"
This was always an interview question that made my mind go blank. Obviously it's hard to pick a flaw to highlight to a potential employer! But they're interested in seeing if you have a healthy level of self-awareness and whether or not you can be honest.
NEVER say that you don't have any and avoid the cliche "I am a perfectionist" response. Employers are looking for information that is real! They want to see how you faced a weakness and became stronger. So be sure to pick something.
This can be tough because you can accidentally reveal that you don't have a plan to make a long-term career with the employer at hand.
Keep it brief and keep it general! Talk about how you want to develop yourself as a professional, and what kind of environment you envision yourself being in.
"I'd love to be working alongside a team of positive and smart individuals who can encourage me to continue learning new things and develop my existing skills. My goal is to be in a supervisory role where I can demonstrate my leadership and project management strengths."