Let’s face it — most job interviews are ordeals, with awkward pauses, sweaty palms and rictus-style grins on the part of the interviewee and, sometimes, the interviewer. The potential employer may not be up to the task of screening and evaluating a prospective employee, and the interviewee may have a few black marks on his employment history — a couple of firings, a short jail term, and the like.
And, of course, there are the exquisitely inept, tactless, artless and usually illegal interview questions. The list is endless — but your patience isn’t. What can you, the hapless job-seeker, do when you’re faced with bad, bad questions during that interview for what may be your dream job?
Refuse to answer and look like a trouble-making jerk? Tell the interviewer he’s an idiot? Side-step the whole mess? Answer the question and ruin your employment prospects?
No — there’s a better way. Plan for the possibility of the interviewer-as-idiot, and prepare stock responses to inane questions. Always ask yourself — what is this fool really asking me? If the idiot asks if you have children and a spouse, what he’s really asking is if you can work around the clock for him and his blasted company. Just say, with a warm smile, that he’s asking you if you can put in overtime and you’d be thrilled to answer that question.
Yup, that’ll work!
Here are few mealy-mouthed but perfectly acceptable answers to interview questions from hell. (Oh yeah, illegal questions cover areas like age, race, national origin, native language, marital status, disabilities and, in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation.)
Older workers: Question: Can you deal with stress and fatigue at your age? Answer: I have always given 500 percent on jobs and fully plan to do so. (Do not add “till I drop dead.”)
Marital status: Question: Are you married? Answer: I can work hard and am willing to relocate. (Do not add: “you sexist clod.”)
Even legal questions can be a pain in the you-know-what.
Question: I see you have gap in your resume. What’s up with that? Answer: I freelanced so I could get more experience in the field. (Do not add: “I really don’t want this job, but I need the benefits.”)
You get the idea. The key to answering dumb and/or illegal questions is to finesse them. And keep your cool.
For more information on career topics, check out www.boomerladder.com.