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How to Ace Today's Job Interview

Fierce competition for jobs is prompting employers to add more-challenging queries to the usual lineup of interview questions. In addition to “Where do you see yourself in five years?” prepare for “What do you do when you see a spider in your house?” or “How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the U.S. each year?”

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Such questions, often based on hypothetical scenarios or involving some data-crunching, may seem outlandish. But they’re tailored to tap specific skills and traits popular with hiring managers: critical thinking, problem solving, creativity or work style, for example. Job-seekers can use the questions to highlight strengths that they might not get to address in a more traditional interview. Questions such as “Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?” target leadership, for example. (Possible answer: “Both. I gather information and hunt for solutions.”) If you’re asked, “If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it?” talk about vision and innovation.

Employers want to see how you handle the unexpected, but you can anticipate their questions. Visit Glassdoor.com to review off-the-wall questions asked of interviewees at a particular company, or go to Monster.com to see what’s been asked for similar positions in your field.

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