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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Perspective on Weird Interview Questions

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At Ask a Manager, Allison Green reminds an introverted job applicant of the nature of a job interview before showing how to apply it to a strange question he had received:

Image by Van Tay Media, via Unsplash, license.
The thing to remember is that the interview is for you to learn about the employer just as much as it is for them to learn about you -- and for both of you to decide if the fit is right and you want to move forward.

So the main goal in answering any interview question should never be to come up with an answer they'll find palatable. To the extent you can, you want to have an honest conversation about what they're looking for and how that fits with who you are, and what you're looking for and how that fits with who they are. [bold added, link omitted]
Green later admits that job interviews don't feel like a balanced conversation to many people. Nevertheless, it is clear that internalizing this approach will make many odd questions less awkward, such as the one she was asked about: How would you go about connecting with coworkers outside of work?

Here is how Green suggested handling this question:
So if you really don't see yourself looking for outside-of-work events to attend with coworkers, don't say that's your jam. I can understand why you did -- you were put on the spot and felt pressure to answer in a way they'd like -- but you really, really don't want to pretend to be someone you're not in order to get a job ... because the person who will be showing up to work every day will be real-you, not insincere-interview-answer-you.


If you could re-do it, I'd suggest responding with something like this: "I've always found my strongest connections with colleagues are built at work, by working together, collaborating on projects, being warm, helpful and responsive, and taking a genuine interest in people's ideas and their lives."

That doesn't sound anti-social, but also doesn't misrepresent you...

[W]hen you're hit with a question that surprises you or raises questions about their culture, always always always ask about it... [bold added]
The long-range approach of answering politely, but truthfully, can plainly prevent an unpleasant future in an incompatible work culture, yes. But remembering that an interview is a conversation can prompt one to get the context that could make the occasional odd interview question seem less odd or provide further valuable information.

Perhaps the writer was not being confronted by "giving up weekends and evenings to try and force friendships." A polite answer in the moment to a question like that can buy the time to learn one way or the other without unnecessarily blowing an opportunity.

-- CAV

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