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GM CEO Mary Barra has 3 favorite job interview questions and they all have the same answer

Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co.
Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co.

How would your peers describe you in three adjectives? How about about your supervisor? Those who've worked under you?

These are all interview questions candidates can expect from General Motors' CEO Mary Barra. At its core, Barra's three-part interview question tests for attributes like integrity, influence and teamwork, Quartz reports.

According to Barra, these questions should all have similar answers. "If you're hiring for integrity," Barra said, "you don't want people to manage up differently than they manage down, and you want people to work just as well with their peers and superiors as they do with their subordinates. This consistency is the key to empowering teams."

Hiring managers asking this type of question are often looking to see how quickly you respond, said Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert for TopResume. In fact, Barra has said, "You learn a lot about a person by the way they answer, given they have to think on their feet."

If you're struggling to describe your relationship with fellow colleagues, this could be an indication that you haven't thought about those relationships and don't consider feedback closely. Stalling on an answer, said Augustine, could be a red flag that you're not accustomed to working collaboratively or that you're unable to "play nice" with peers.

This question can also gauge your level of self-awareness, a critical leadership skill said Augustine, and will require some self-reflection. "Consider the official performance evaluations and informal feedback you've received from your supervisors and peers over the past few years," said Augustine. "Assess the information to see if it still rings true."

When describing yourself during the interview, you want to be authentic yet strategic. "Keep the requirements of the role for which you're applying in mind," said Augustine.

Review the job description and think about what you've learned through conversations with the recruiter, hiring manager or current employees. Ask yourself: are there specific skills that are key to performing this job? "If you are known to exhibit those skills at the office, weave that information into your response," said Augustine.

Employers don't want to hire a leader who is disconnected or aloof, so "if you don't know how these groups would describe you," she said, "it's time to find out, as soon as possible."

"The worst thing you can do is admit that you don't know how your manager, peers or subordinates would describe you."

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