Even when the hiring process is fairly straightforward, interviewing for a new job is stressful. But some hiring managers throw a little something extra at candidates. These interview tricks might feel underhanded to you, but they’re not really intended to fool you.
The goal of these challenges is to find out what you’ll really be like at work. Hiring managers are usually looking for creative problem-solvers who can think on their feet. Deal with these interview tricks the right way, and you’ll display your creativity, resilience and positive attitude — all things employers love in a candidate.
9 Interview tricks (And How to Beat Them)
You might think that polishing your resume and doing your research on the employer is enough preparation for a job interview. And in many cases, it is. But, some interviewers set challenges that could make or break your interview. It helps to be ready just in case.
Here are a few interview tricks to watch out for:
1. The tour test
You may be taken on a tour of the facility as a part of your interview experience. A lot of candidates let their guards down during this time and have a more informal chat with their host. And, that’s exactly what the folks who are doing the hiring are counting on.
The tour test is meant to understand and assess what you’re like on a casual basis. This can help the company to decide whether or not you’d be a good fit for the organization. The informal chat you have with your tour guide helps them to understand what you’d be like to work with on a day-to-day basis.
So, remember to be on your best behavior during your tour and when interacting with anyone during any stage of the interview process.
2. The “wrapper test”
Some interview tricks are meant to uncover aspects of your personality that might not come out in any other way. Take, for example, “the wrapper test.” Before the interview begins, a wrapper is placed on the floor by the door to the interview room. Then, the hiring manager waits to see whether you notice it and pick it up or simply look away.
Of course, you may be so nervous that you don’t even notice a small piece of trash on the floor. But, if you do happen to spot something, definitely take a second to bend down and pick it up. Even if the test wasn’t set up intentionally, your actions will send a positive message about your character and your attention to detail.
3. The good sport challenge
The way someone acts when they’re playing a friendly game says a lot about their nature. What do you reveal about yourself during these time? Are you competitive? Are you a sore loser? Do you like to have fun? Do you congratulate others when they do a good job?
“Although we don’t do this every time, my company has been known to invite interviewers to a game of post-interview ping-pong. It sounds silly, but it’s actually a great way to help people loosen up and reveal more of their character. I like seeing how different types of candidates respond to challenges or successes during the game and how that affects their interpersonal dynamic,” said entrepreneur Rob Bellenfant, according to The Muse.
If you’re asked to play any type of game, before, after, or during your interview, keep in mind that it could be a test. Be on your best behavior and show the better side of your nature at every turn. It just might help you to land the job.
4. The thank-you note test
Although times have changed, it’s still a good idea to send a thank-you note after an interview. Some interviews consider not sending a thank-you note to be a deal breaker.
“When I first starting hiring, I came up with a simple rule: We shouldn’t move a candidate to the next stage in the interview process unless they send a thank-you email,” wrote Jessica Liebman, the executive managing editor of Inc., at Business Insider.
Liebman says she still sticks by the rule for two reasons. First, sending a thank-you note demonstrates that the candidate has real interest in the position. And, second, it shows that the person is “…organized and well mannered enough to send the note. It shows resourcefulness, too, because the candidate often has to hunt down an email address the interviewer never gave them.”
It doesn’t take long to send an email, thanking the team for their time. So, take a few minutes to be sure you ace this step of the interview process.
5. Honesty assessments
This type of test is sometimes leveraged for high-security jobs where candidates will have access to valuable items or important information. An honesty assessment is meant to evaluate your trustworthiness. You may be asked, either verbally or in writing, some direct-comparison questions repetitively. For example, “Which do you like better, chess or poetry?” And then, “Do you like poetry more than chess?” Being honest throughout your interview will help to ensure that you’re consistent, and that you pass the test.
Some honesty assessments are a little bit more direct. An interviewer might ask you something like, “Have you ever told a lie?” A candidate that says that they haven’t is clearly being untruthful. Honesty is the best policy — even when it’s about dishonesty.
6. The “what’s your greatest weakness” question
It’s fairly common to be asked about your greatest weakness during a job interview. But, this isn’t a trick to try to get you to offer up something negative about yourself. And, you probably shouldn’t spin it toward the positive either and dodge the question by saying something like, “I work too hard and care too much.” (It turns out that humble-bragging can be a turnoff in a job interview.)
Instead, own up to both sides of your nature. Sure, you do a lot of things well, but you also have areas where you’d like to grow professionally. Demonstrate that you’re a lifelong-learner who’s skilled, but also enthusiastic about growing and improving your abilities. You might say that you’ve been really excited about expanding your programming skills lately. Although it’s something you’ve always enjoyed doing, you know you need to work hard to keep up with changes, for example.
Employers love to hire folks who are confident in their abilities while also being eager learners. This tricky interview question is a great opportunity to demonstrate those traits.
7. The kindness and politeness check
When you’re headed off to an interview for a new job, keep in mind that the interview process might start a little earlier than you think. First, you’ll arrive to the building and check-in with someone before waiting for the interviewers to come and get you. It might feel like you’re just waiting at this point. But, there may be more going on here than you think.
A lot of hiring managers like to ask the receptionist about your behavior during the time before the interview. They’ll wait until the interview is over and then take a few minutes to ask the receptionist how you behaved when you first arrived and what their impressions were. If you were rude to them in any way, it could definitely be a deal breaker.
Anyone can be on their best behavior during an actual interview. What you do just before and after that meeting might say more about what kind of a coworker you really are. So, always be kind, polite and positive from the second you walk in the door, until the second you walk out.
8. The salary requirements question
In fairness, this is less an interview trick than an accidental trap. Don’t be too quick to answer questions about your salary target. You need to learn as much as possible about the job and what it entails before you commit to a salary range.
To answer the salary requirement question, be prepared. Do your research and set a range based on what’s appropriate for the role, given the job description and your experience and education. Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to find the range for the position before your interview.
9. The question test
Many hiring managers will close the interview by asking if the candidate has any questions. This might seem like a perfunctory inquiry, like when someone asks how you’re doing. But, in many cases there’s more to it than that.
It’s best to have a question or two prepared in case you’re prompted. Doing so helps to show that you’re interested in the job and that you’re an inquisitive person in general. It’s also a chance to demonstrate to the folks interviewing you that you’ve done your homework and researched the company.
Beyond that, it’s in your best interests to come to the meeting with questions. Remember that you’re interviewing the hiring manager, too.
Tell Us What You Think
What other interview tricks have you encountered? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.