Skill: Speaking Theme: Job Interviews
Level: Upper Intermediate/Advanced (B2-C2)

There are three golden rules for succeeding at a job interview:

1. prepare, 2. prepare, and 3. prepare.

But there are some « out of the box » questions that you may never have thought of.

In a typical year, slightly more than 2,000 highly driven people are interviewed for admission to the prestigious MBA program at Harvard Business School.

There are often questions that can take a person by surprise.  The following list of the ten most unpredictable questions was submitted by current Harvard Business School Students who have successfully gained admission.   Thanks to John Byrne who first published this list at Poets and Quants.

  • Explain to me something you’re working on as if I were an eight-year old
  • Describe something that you should start doing, do more of, and do less of.
  • What’s the one thing you’ll never be as good at as others?
  • What are the two best pieces of advice you have been given, and why?
  • What do you want to be remembered as?
  • What is your definition of a leader?  How do you fit that definition?
  • How do you make big decisions?
  • How would your parents describe you when you were twelve?
  • What is one thing I’d never have guessed about you, even after reading your application?
  • What is the one thing you would like me to remember about you?

Practice

Read the questions.  Consider how you would answer each of them and make some notes in your own language.

Choose questions at random and practise answering them in English.

Remember that as much as possible your answers to interview questions should be structured.  Certain questions lead easily to structured answers as they contain several elements to respond to, e.g. « something you should start doing (1st point), do more of (2nd point) and do less of (3rd point).  Other questions tend to lead to waffly answers if you don’t manage to keep a clear structure in mind.  For example, for the question « What do you want to be remembered as? », one efficient way of answering the question would be to think of two or at the most three qualities that you believe you demonstrate.  Speak about each quality in turn, making sure that you give clear examples:

Firstly I would like to be remembered as an innovative person.  In my previous job I created a completely new system for organising tools in the workshop, which increased efficiency by 20%, and I look forward to bringing the same kind of innovation to this new position.  I’d also like to be remembered as someone who is generous with knowledge and expertise.  I’m a great believer in the fact that an effective organisation is a learning organisation, and passing on what I have learnt to others is one of the things I enjoy most, as demonstrated most recently in my role as team leader in the logistics department.

 

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