Finding a job is hard, but job interviewers are having a tough time, too. Because with so many unemployed people, there are more job applicants than ever, which means HR managers are working overtime, interviewing more people. The result: “Interviewer burnout.” So, a lot of HR managers are asking tricky questions to help them weed out applicants as quickly as possible:

  • Question #1: How did you prepare for this interview? Scot Herrick wrote, I’ve Landed My Dream Job — Now What?, And he says that’s designed to separate those who really want the job from people who apply everywhere. And the right answer is a simple. Say something specific like, “I hit the company’s website, checked out the executive profiles, and googled your latest corporate news.”

  • The next tricky interview question: What type of reference do you think your previous boss will give? Hiring expert Steve Penny says that former employers rarely give a bad reference because they’re afraid of being sued. So, this question’s a way to get you to reveal all of the negative things they’d never hear from your old boss. So, answer honestly, but focus on the positive. 

  • And the last question trips up most applicants: When you finish your work, what do you like to do? Michael Mercer, the author of Job Hunting Made Easy, says that almost everyone takes this to mean, “What do you like to do with your free time?” But the right way to interpret it is: “What do you do that makes you a better employee?” So your best bet is to say something like, “I enjoying going for a run because it clears my head and helps me unwind so I’m ready for whatever happens.”