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How to master an untraditional interview

How to master an untraditional interview

Once upon a time, job interviews were simple and predictable. You dressed up in your best suit, carried a briefcase and went to an office, where you got asked standard questions such as "What qualifications do you have?" and "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Well, not anymore. In today's super competitive job market, Google® and many other top companies are famously shifting to nontraditional interview formats that can include everything from complex brainteasers to covert operations designed to test your adaptability.

Applicants can anticipate nontraditional interview formats by learning about the company and its culture, according to Allison Washington, a human resources executive who is also an instructor in the University of Phoenix MBA program. "Research all you can about the company ahead of time," Washington says. "Try to find out who is going to interview you if possible. And talk to current or past employees about their interview experiences, too." Check out these tips from human resources experts on what else you can do to prepare for four of the most common new interview tests:

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Brainteasers

The Test: Complex brainteasers that have no right answer can be a good way for hiring managers to learn how candidates think on their feet, according to Dee Sloan, a human resources professional and an instructor in the University of Phoenix MBA program.

The Answer: "Primarily these types of interview formats can determine if an applicant can think outside the lines of traditional interview questions," Sloan says. Completing word and logic puzzles such as Sudoku, crosswords and visual brainteaser games can help you prepare.

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Lunch as a behavior test

The Test: A new nontraditional interview format involves taking job candidates out to lunch and observing their behavior while they eat, according to Washington.

The Answer: "At my company, we often do second interviews over lunch, because we want to see what kind of table manners our job candidates have," she says. "Good manners and courtesy are important for jobs that involve entertaining clients, and we won't hire people who are rude."

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Obscure questions

The Test: Many companies have begun asking odd questions, such as "If you could be a superhero, which one would it be?"

The Answer: Respond honestly, instead of making up something that you think sounds impressive, Washington suggests. "When I ask that question in interviews, some people respond with the names of world leaders, like President Obama or Gandhi," she says. "We do not want to hear that. It's boring and fake. We really want you to say you like Batman or a similar character right off the bat, and explain why."

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Awkward situations

The Test: Some companies will covertly do things to make you uncomfortable during the interview to see how you react.

The Answer: Companies use these kinds of undercover tests to find employees who can respond to on-the-job challenges and adapt quickly, so be flexible, Sloan suggests. "In one interview where I was the job candidate, I was seated with the sun in my eyes," she says. "The idea was to see how I would respond. I got up and moved to a different, vacant seat."

Google is a trademark of Google Inc.

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