5 unconventional questions you may get asked in an interview – and how to answer them

February 4th, 2022

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Cold sweats. Shortness of breath. Flushed cheeks. And high nervous energy. This is a good form to be in after you have hit the gym; not before or during a possibly life-changing interview. However, come placement season, this is usually the mode most college students are in. And we can’t blame them. An interview can be scary - especially if it’s for your dream job.

While there are many resources out there to help you in preparing for your job interview in the placement season, we have put together these googly-ball questions that come out of nowhere and leave you stumped.

  1. You don't have any experience. Why should we hire you?

If we’re honest, this is not really an unconventional question. As a fresher, you will be asked this question time and again, especially if you’re planning to apply for a job outside the college campus placement system. Though it’s an expected question, many freshers fail to answer this appropriately, believing that they have nothing to offer, or end up rambling about some summer job experience they may have had in school.

When companies call freshers for interviews, they do not expect them to have any experience. What they are looking for is the ability to take initiative, a willingness to learn and a passion for the industry. Tailor your answer to demonstrate these characteristics, and you’ve one answer definitely nailed down. 

  1. How would you describe the mission of our company?

Fresh in your career, it’s understandable if your biggest priority is to get a job. However, employers want to know if you’re the right fit for them. And whether you are going to treat this opportunity as just a run-of-the-mill job or are truly passionate about finding your place and making a difference in the workplace. If it’s the latter, then they expect you to do your homework and learn about the company. 

Take some time to research the company, its beginnings, its work culture, and the change it strives to bring about in the world. Learning these answers beforehand will convince your prospective employers that you know the company and just as importantly, you know your own mind for having chosen this company.

  1. How would you communicate bad news to a client?

This is a question few employers ask, but those who do are pretty serious about hiring you. At this point, they want to know if you can handle any issues that come up in the workplace. Sure, you may be a beginner, but being able to rise up to unexpected challenges and thinking on your feet are abilities that employers value a lot.

This question also answers an important criterion for them - what is your value system like? Can you say hard things? Are you a team player? How do you balance these attributes? Or do you engage in the blame game? Tailor your answer to show yourself as an honest person who can take ownership of mistakes, and is determined to make them right.  

  1. What was your best mistake?

A guise of the much-dreaded question - “Describe your weaknesses”, this question is a more nuanced version of the same. It checks for your weakness from a practical experience standpoint, and more importantly, has it deterred you from getting back on the horse and on to work? 

As a fresher, you may not have a workplace mistake to share. Or you may not really know about your professional failings, just as yet. Don’t worry. Talk about your personal experiences - education, teamwork, even friendships are all fair game - as long as you can demonstrate that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and turn your weaknesses into strengths. 

  1. What are some of the trends in our industry that might disrupt our work? How do you suggest we go about meeting these changes?

This question may feel like a tough one for a fresher to crack, but it really isn’t. Here, your prospective employer cares about two things - preparation and perspective. 

In terms of preparation, how well do you know the industry you are about to enter? Have you caught up on the trends of the same? How well have you researched the company that you’d like to join?

Moreover, if an employer is looking for people without experience, it’s quite likely that they are looking for a fresh perspective and new energy on the board. So, showcase these aspects. Don’t worry if your ideas seem too impractical at this point or if your interviewer challenges them. They want to know if you care enough to actively study the industry and come up with new ideas.

At the end of the day, employers are looking for someone honest, humble, confident and driven. And that’s why they pose the questions this way, to get an insight into how you work and play in the team. Knowing this from the get-go should put your mind at ease and help you steer your answers in the right direction.

Every interview is different and you really can’t prep for every single question. Further, there are no right or wrong answers to these 5 unconventional questions. But keeping your answers ready for them will help you cover your bases in terms of industry, company, clarity of thought and confidence. Of course, some additional preparation can do you plenty good. upGrad Campus’ Placement Plus program sets the ground for your interview rounds. From resumé building to 1:1 mock interviews and GD rounds, this program has 60 hours of live sessions that give you the edge you need. So check it out if you need help in specific areas.

What are some of the unconventional questions you have been asked in an interview? Let us know in the comments section below.

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