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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. January 28, 2020

5 Creative Interview Questions That Can Reveal Red Flags

Catch ’em early so you’re not surprised

5 Creative Interview Questions That Can Reveal Red Flags
Photo courtesy of Kat Garcia

A job interview is not just about the interviewer getting to know you, it’s your chance to get to know the company too. And asking the right questions can make you stand out, give you an insight into what it’s like to work at the company, and help you identify red flags early. Here are five creative interview questions to ask that can help you do all of those.

1. What is the first project you would want the new hire to tackle?

How this question will make you stand out

It shows that you’re thinking practically about the role and even shows that you’re trying to visualize yourself working there.

What you will learn about the company

This answer will let give you an inside peek at what the department needs and where might you fit in. It will also give you an indication of whether the job is one you would want and could do.

Red flags

They have no idea. If there’s no plan for the new hire’s work, then it’s likely to be a pretty frustrating start to a new job. If they dodge the question entirely or answer with something that doesn’t match the job description, then the company may be misrepresenting the job.

Read more:How to Answer: What Are You Looking for in a Job?

2. How would you describe your leadership style?

How this question will make you stand out

Asking this question shows that you want to work well with your supervisor, which is ideal to hear from any candidate. Be sure to ask for examples of how they lead, as their evaluation of their own management style may be different than your own.

What you will learn about the company

It’ll help you get a sense of whether you could work for this person and can tell you what management styles are acceptable at the company.

Red flags

I once had an interviewer (the company’s CEO) answer this question by saying, I am someone who is never satisfied with meeting the status quo. Even at your best I will expect even more. YIKES. Listen for signs they may be a micromanager or a “leader” who isn’t present.

3. What is something your department/team/company does successfully, and what is something you need to improve on?

How this question will make you stand out

Wanting to know the wins and struggles of a department shows that you’re interested in the inner workings of the team. You also may be able to share your own example of how you dealt with a similar challenge, which can highlight your relevant skills.

What you will learn about the company

The answer can help you think about how you might fit in with the team. What they struggle with will show you where you might be of help or it might show you a deal-breaker.

Red flags

If the challenges sound like more than you want to deal with, that is something to heavily consider. Also, all organizations have weaknesses, so if the interviewer says they have no real challenges, they’re leaving out some vital information.

Read more:Need Career Counseling? Start Your Search Here

4. What kind of continued learning opportunities do you offer?

How this question will make you stand out

This question shows that you’re interested in growing your knowledge of your role and are thinking long-term. Also, someone who is always looking to learn can give more to their job with the new skills and training that they’ve gained.

What you will learn about the company

While many companies are behind on this front, more companies are beginning to offer continued learning benefits, like conferences, workshops, online courses, and even educational assistance and tuition reimbursement. The answer to this question can help you see if they are supportive of employees’ development or if the company expects staff to pursue and fund their development on their own.

Red flags

If nothing is offered, and they don’t seem open to the idea of supporting continued learning, then this position may not be for you if you are looking to level-up your expertise.

5. I read that  X, Y, and Z are your company’s values, how were these values chosen and how do you feel they support employees’ growth?

How this question will make you stand out

Your desire to know more about the company’s values shows the interviewer that you did your research and that you’re looking to be aligned with company values. Follow up to their reply by letting them know which of the values resonates with you and why.

What you will learn about the company

Asking this question will help give you a better understanding of the company’s core values, which can give you better insight into what the company culture is really like.

Red flags

If an interviewer cannot expound upon those values, it could indicate that what’s on the website is not what it actually lives by. Additionally, if the explanation of its values isn’t aligned with your own, this can cause major conflict. However, what your interviewer sees as the company values (and the why behind them) may be different than another employee’s perspective, so you might ask this question during every round of interviews.

Read more:How to Ask for a Job. Wait...Is That a Thing I Can Do?

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Photo of Noelle Johnson

Noelle Johnson

Contributor

Noelle Johnson is the owner of a career services agency and is a writer and speaker. She speaks and writes on career topics specifically aimed toward women and marginalized communities. She is a comic book aficionado and has yet to meet a bad action film that she hasn't loved.

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