Got a question that you just pray doesn’t get asked of you in future job interviews? Come on, you know; that question that you either think is just plain stupid in the first place or is going to sink your chances of landing a job offer because you’ve never really come up with a decent answer? Fine. So what, if anything, are you doing about it?
Like any weakness or area requiring improvement, you can be forgiven if you aren’t as strong as you could be up to a point. After all, everybody has areas in which they could and should take steps to improve. However having acknowledged this, you cannot be forgiven if you are aware of a weakness, (such as not addressing an interview question that has you stumbling and scrambling to answer) and you are making no effort to improve.
So let’s imagine for a moment that you left your previous job on poor terms. You and your former employer didn’t get along and the day you left you told him or her exactly what you thought of them, which you don’t regret for a second – except if your future possible employers should want to call them to get a reference. Maybe they made it a habit to belittle you, insult you, tear a strip out of you in front of others. So you’re naturally not looking forward to the question, “Tell me about your former Supervisor”, or possibly, “How would your former Supervisor describe you?”
As a second example, let’s presume you’re the kind of person who has a low tolerance for things you don’t understand. You don’t appreciate being played for a fool or having your time wasted, and a question like, “What’s your favourite colour for a balloon?”, “What’s the most important thing to remember when you first arrive at a crime scene?” or “What literature are you reading at the moment?”, just boil your nerves because they have zero relevance when it comes to determining your skills and qualifications for this job.
Here’s the thing: most organizations ask questions of applicants that they have well-considered, and each question is designed to reveal or expose some character flaw, determine the chemistry you might bring to the job, or yes – give you a chance to highlight and share your strengths as they relate to the job. When you scowl perhaps at what appears to you to be an inane, insulting question for someone of your intelligence, you are really making a value judgement of the organization and the person asking the question. That my friend, may be precisely what the question was designed to reveal. Thanks for coming…we’ll be in touch – which in this case means we won’t.
If you are going to scowl or even challenge the question asked of you, you are also likely to have a low threshold for others who might pose similar questions to you – questions which shouldn’t be asked because the answer is so blatantly obvious in your opinion. And who might pose such ridiculous questions? The customers or clients of the organization you apparently want to work for. If in an interview where you are at your best you show low tolerance, just imagine (thinks the interviewer) what you’ll be like if left on your own with a customer in their store or in their office. Yikes!
Oh and the question about the former boss I gave as an example earlier? One day the person interviewing you now might well be your future ex-boss. So if you are going to smear your last boss now, what might you say in the future about the person interviewing you today? You need to show tact, respect others shortcomings, use discretion. No need to lie and say things were awesome between you two. However no one said you had to go out of your way to say the other extreme either.
Maybe you could say something like, “My previous employer had a strong personality. He/she spoke their mind directly, leaving no room to be misunderstood and made it their regular practice to provide corrective comments in the moment, which he/she felt would get desired results quickest.” See? You can rise above their treatment of you and still be honest, allowing the interviewer to read between the lines if they wish. You could also add how your ideal Supervisor would possibly get more out of you with a different approach, and provide an example of that if you should choose to do so.
But the main point in this piece you are reading is to take action now and address whatever interview question or questions you personally find hard to answer. Speak with a Job Coach, an Employment Counsellor or a Career Advisor. Instead of just saying, “I hate such and such question”, state what it is you find difficult about it. The more someone knows WHY you find the question hard, the more helpful their advice will be in trying to give you a strategy to answer it in the future that you will remember.
When you go from dreading a question to looking forward to the same question, your confidence rises, your body language won’t expose you, and your overall likelihood of success rises.
So what question, (and why) do you dread being asked in an employment interview?