Friday, March 28, 2008

Surviving the Loaded Interview Questions

Have you ever had a job interview and felt like it was going well until the hiring manager asked you a question and you thought: "Holy Sh**!"

It might be something like:

1. "What are you going to say to your boss if we offer you this job and he or she gets upset when you say you're going to quit?"

2. "The economy is tough right now...are you one of those people who is has been caught up in this credit mess?"

3. "What skills do you feel you need to improve?"

The reason a hiring manager asks you questions like these is simple: He or she wants to make you sweat. Even if it's just a little. Because if they're going to put their necks on the line and recommend you be hired, they want to make sure you've got what it takes to be calm and level-headed under pressure. If you hem and haw and get flustered or say "that's none of your damn business!" then the hiring manager will probably toss your resume in the shredder as soon as you leave.

The other reason they ask you these kinds of questions is because they are trying to get a better handle on who you are and what "baggage" you might bring to their workplace. If, for example, you're interviewing for a job dealing with money and they discover you're losing your house in the mortgage debacle, they might wonder if you'd be tempted to let some extra cash fall into your briefcase each night. Or, they may wonder how you'll deal with a boss who yells at you.

In his book, "Acing the Interview," Tony Beshara offers some answers to questions like these that will have you appearing so cool, calm and collected, the hiring manager will wonder if you ever even require deodorant. Here are some answers to the questions listed above:

1. On the boss's reaction: "I'm sure my boss will be somewhat disappointed, but he or she has always been the kind who wants what's best for everyone in the organization. If finding a new job is best for my family and me, well, my boss might be unhappy about the situation for his or our company, but he will be pleased for me."
2. Personal finances suck: The hiring manager is going to try and find out how personally responsible you are, and don't be surprised if a company runs a credit report on you. Don't lie. Admit that you've run into a rough patch, and then briefly explain the circumstances. If you financial history is pretty rough, it's best to be proactive and address it before an employer does a check on it.
3. Show you've got game: Always demonstrate that you're working on improvement, both professionally and personally. Talk about seminars or professional events you've attended, any classes you've taken, or self-improvement books you've read.
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