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Job Interview: Ask Questions That Really Matter
How would you react if I told you that
your interview, so far, was terrible?
Stop for a moment and really think how would you
react if your interviewer said that to you. Would
you get angry and annoyed and maybe insult the
If so, you would have fallen for the trap.
Listen to the question again and this time pay
close attention to the most important word in
the question -'If'. The interviewer is not saying
that your interview is terrible, he is asking:
"How would you react IF I said your interview
In other words, he is trying to find out how
you react to criticism.
In the daily grind of the real business world
people lose their tempers and shout and criticize
each other. The interviewer wants to judge how
you might react to such situations in the work
place. So listen carefully to the question and
don't fall for the bait. Let the interviewer see
you calmly considering the question and then begin
Well, I'd be quite surprised and rather sad. I
have put a lot of work into preparing for this
interview and getting this job is very important
to me. May I ask you, what parts of my presentation
did you consider were not up to an acceptable
standard? If you could pinpoint these areas to
me, maybe I could go over them again and clear
up any misunderstandings that might exist. I'm
sure that's where the problem lies"
Try to respond to this question along the above
diplomatic lines. In fact, what you say in response
to this question is not nearly as important as
your original emotional response. You have not
got angry, emotional, upset, depressed or defeatist.
You have not thrown in the towel despite the interviewer's
apparent criticism of your performance - but you
have come out fighting. Unknown to yourself you
have already passed the interviewer's real test
What is the worst thing you have heard
about our company?
This is known as a 'shock' question. It is designed
to throw you off balance - to make you uncomfortable
and then to see how you will react.
Although, at first glance it may seem a difficult
question it is quite simple to answer once you
don't fall in to the trap of trying to answer
It is a trick question injected into the interview
to test you. The interviewer is an old pro. He
knows the questions that can unnerve interviewees.
He is carefully watching for your reaction.
However you have done your homework, too, and
instead of getting hot and bothered you smile
and simply say:
"The worse thing I have heard about your
company is how hard it is to get a job there and
how tough, detailed and rigorous their job interviews
A simple but effective answer. Now watch your
interviewer respond to that!
What was the last book you read or the
last movie you saw and how did it affect you?
Are you surprised by this question? It's strange
but 5-10 years ago it's not a question you would
have expected to get during an interview but to-day
it is quite popular.
Most interviewers, however think it is quite
original and that they are the only ones to use
it but it is now a common question now so be prepared
for it or a variation of it and select your book
or film beforehand.
However, there is no need to tell them about
the very latest film you have seen or book you
have read. Select a book or film that you really
like and genuinely know about. Of course the smart
interviewer will use this question as another
golden opportunity to illustrate to the employer
that he has the exact skills and talents the company
is looking for. For example, our chef being interviewed
by the restaurant might say:
"Oh, that's an unusual question……
I love reading biographies and the last book that
I read was the autobiography of the famous French
Chef, Jean X. The book was fascinating as it detailed
his rise from nowhere to the top of his profession
and it gave incredible details of the long hours
he worked and the incredible pressure he put himself
through and that no matter how difficult it got
he always maintained the highest standards. He
put the same effort and care into his very last
meal of the day, even if it was meal 580 as he
did into the first meal of the day. They, too
are the standards I would like to aspire to and
I believe I have the capability of reaching the
same standard "
I'm still not really sure if you are suitable
for this job. What do you think?
Don't take this question at face-value. Although
the tone of the question may sound critical and
uncertain the interviewer is really asking you
to finally convince him once and for all that
you are the right person for the job.
The question is asked in this format to see if
you are easily intimidated and defeated by blatant
negative criticism. The interviewer wants to gauge
how determined you are - to really discover how
much you will fight to get this job.
So tackle the question head-on. Don't let the
way it is phased knock your confidence or poise.
Begin your response with a question of your own:
"May I ask why you believe that?"
This simple question will force the interviewer
to reveal why he may think you are unsuitable.
Usually he will refer to a lack of some skill
or other or a lack of experience.
In fact he will, probably be quite deliberately
vague as his question is really a request for
you to finally convince him that you are right
for the job.
Nevertheless, use what he says as an opportunity
to emphasize again all the main reasons why you
believe you can do the job.
By now you should have these reasons off by heart.
This question, if you use it rightly is simply
another opportunity to press these reasons home.
When you do that, the interviewer will be impressed
not only by your answer but also by the way you
turned an apparently negative question around
and skillfully used it in such a positive way.