Thumb screws and the iron maiden are no longer considered proper interview tools. Nasty traps are rarely set for candidates. The most common snare is a reasonable question or a pause that becomes the killing moment in an interview. We’ll talk about pauses another day.
Reasonable questions that are dangerous include:
- What are your weaknesses?
- What do we have to pay you to get you to work here?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Are you willing to do anything necessary to get the job done?
- Where else are you interviewing?
When you get a dangerous question you should answer it accurately. That doesn’t mean you need to go into a lot of detail. Over the next few day we’ll touch on each one of these questions. For now, remember to be brief.
Any one of these questions can bring out old job wounds. Job wounds are things that happened at a previous job that you are afraid will happen again. Get over them. This is a new company. Don’t yell, whine or complain about the past. If you have to mention something that is ugly, state the fact in one short sentence and stop. Don’t explain. Don’t fill in the details. Let your interviewer assume what he wants. You will find that their imagination is often more generous to you if you are extremely brief and only mention facts.
The secret to avoiding interview traps is to prepare an answer in advance. Use that answer and avoid going into areas that are painful for you. Brevity is a key.
If all the world’s a stage, I want to operate the trap door. (Beatty)
Something To Do Today
Write down a one sentence answer to each of the questions above. Next week compare those answers to the guidelines for each question.
Next: Pregnant pauses
Later: What are your weaknesses?
What do we have to pay you?
Why are you leaving your job?
Will you do anything we ask?
Where else are you interviewing?