By Courtney Connley
CNBC, December 27, 2017 —
Regardless of how qualified you are on paper, providing one wrong answer to a question can easily sway a hiring manager’s decision about whether you’re the right fit for a job.
While many candidates expect to answer questions about their past work experiences and career goals, there are some questions a job interviewer may ask that can throw you for a complete loop.
To help you prepare for the unexpected, below are six curveball questions you may be faced with in your next job interview.
In addition to inquiring about your hobbies and side hustles, job search platform Glassdoor says some employers may also ask about your favorite website to get further insight on how you spend your hours outside of work.
“The question aims to highlight how you like to spend your time — do you spend time networking online, staying on top of the latest industry news or catching up on celebrity gossip,” career strategist Mary Grace Gardner of The Young Professionista tells Glassdoor.
“Social media websites can point to your ability to connect with others, news websites can show your knowledge on the latest trends and niche websites can show your unique characteristics,” she adds.
2. What gets you up in the morning?
In addition to knowing that you are qualified to complete a job, many hiring managers also want to know that you’re passionate about the position to which you’re applying. So when asked by an employer, “What gets you up in the morning,” think about the things that will excite you as it relates to the job.
Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” tells Glassdoor that job seekers should “offer up examples that are relevant, like managing projects, learning new skills or a specific activity that is tied directly to performing this role.”
3. Is there something you worked on or you’ve done that didn’t particularly go your way?
Many candidates are prepared to talk about the high points of their career, but to get a full scope of how you will adjust to the job, hiring managers also want to see how you handle situations that don’t go as planned.
Cynthia Augustine, who serves as the global chief talent officer for the ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding, explains to CNBC Make It that asking about a project that didn’t particularly go your way gives a broader sense of who the candidate is in addition to what’s on paper. She says the question also gives insight into how the person deals with failure.
“The most revealing is when someone says nothing,” she says. “That is usually pretty telling.”
For Augustine, that kind of response means a person lacks experience on how to deal with or identify challenges. After all, as she puts it, “in everything, failure may occur.”Suzy Welch VIDEO: Here’s how to answer “What’s your greatest weakness?”
4. What do you like most and least about this industry?
Discussing the downside to working in an industry may be the last question you expect to be asked in an interview, but Glassdoor says it’s one many hiring managers are looking for candidates to answer.
Career coach Aurora Meneghello of Repurpose Your Purpose says the best way to respond is to be authentic with your answer as it will act as “a filter that repels bad matches but attracts bosses and coworkers who share your values and approach to the job.”
However, when answering this question, Nicole Wood of the coaching company Ama La Vida warns candidates to not let their honest answer be perceived as too negative.
“Ensure you select core components of working in the industry for what you like most, and lesser details for things you like least, or things that would only be required of you from time to time,” Wood tells Glassdoor.
5. How would you fire someone?
Firing someone is never a comfortable feeling and it’s certainly not a scenario you would expect to be asked about in a job interview. However, if you’re interviewing for a management position, hiring managers may be interested in seeing if you can handle the pressure of letting an employee go if needed.
Meneghello tells Glassdoor that before jumping to the explanation of how you would get rid of an employee, you should “first [share] the steps [you’d] take to not get to the point of firing someone.”
She says not only will this show that you don’t take the situation lightly, but you also know how to be a communicative manager who helps develop talent instead of firing trainable staff.
If firing someone is the only option, Wood says candidates should “show that [they] would be capable of delivering the news in a calm, empathetic but matter-of-fact manner.”
6. Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
While the idea of being perfect seems appealing, many hiring managers understand that perfection is not always realistic.
In a recent episode of CNBC’s “The Job Interview,” Nadia Geller, owner and managing director of California-based interior design company Nadia Geller Designs, asked job applicants, “Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?”
In response, Geller was looking for “good and on time,” because, she says, “perfection is really not attainable. And if you’re late on top of it, then people are waiting on you and to me that’s a no-no.”
When faced with curveball questions such as these, best-selling management author and CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch says the best way to respond is to carefully think over your answer before blurting it out.
“Do not jump at an answer,” says Welch, “They are looking for the way you think because jobs always throw curveballs at you and it’s the quality of your thinking they are looking for.”