Career Hack: Preparing for those unusual interview questions

Arriving for a job interview causes a number of mixed emotions. On one hand, you are one of the chosen few asked to come in and sell yourself in person. On the other hand, you are about to participate in a rapid-fire inquisition scheduled to last approximately 50 minutes.

You have done your due diligence and assembled stories about your accomplishments with each narrative exemplifying a combination of hard and soft skills. You are ready.

What you are not ready for is that single question that seems to have nothing to do with your actual qualifications for the job.

Today, many hiring managers are peppering interviews with questions that can catch you off guard. While they are not meant to be “gotchas” they can be anything but straightforward.

Each Wednesday, I will post one such question with a few suggestions on how to respond.

Question: What book(s) are you currently reading?

Before you blurt out, “Who has time to read” or “What does this have to do with the position”, understand that this question is actually designed to get to know you better. There are few wrong answers but a few things you should remember when preparing to respond.

1. Be honest. Don’t offer a book that you have never actually read. If you have not read a book in a while, read one immediately. Reading is important and not just to be able to respond to this interview question.

2. In addition to the title of the book, explain why you are reading the book. Why does it interest you? Are you reading a particular book to develop a skill or expand your mind?

3. Make sure you respond with a book title appropriate for a professional environment as well as the role you are applying for. For example, an absolute wrong response would be admitting that you are reading “Coding for Dummies” if you are applying for a position in which being able to code is essential.

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