Wednesday, June 30, 2010

How to Handle Inappropriate Questions in a Job Interview

"How come you don’t have any kids?" "Why do you worship the wrong god?” "Was it really wise of you to be Portuguese?" Yes, nothing can put you quite on the spot like an interview. So to assist you with this oft troubling process I’ve compiled a list of some of the typical queries I’ve faced in my job quests, along with my own quite professional and pithy retorts.

Q. "According to your resume you haven’t worked in 18 years. Were you in a coma?"
A. How insightful of you to notice. After all, does not one’s work speak to one’s character? Are we not judged by our actions as well as our words? Very sharp on your part. I can see I’m going to enjoy working for you.

Q. "You seem to say ‘um’ a lot. Were you formally educated or just schooled by mentally deficient wolves?"
A. I think we can both agree that education is as much about experience as it is about instruction. Furthermore, I believe we gain our most acute knowledge outside of the classroom when we seek our way in the world, wherever that may be. For example, I learned to successfully remove a fishhook from my mouth using only my bare hands, simple leverage and a rather cavalier attitude toward facial disfigurement. Of course, how the hook got into my mouth I can’t rightly say, given that I’ve never been fishing. Oh well, sometimes you just wake up in a funny situation.

Q. "Is that awful stench coming from you?"
A. I completely agree with and appreciate your company’s desire to find those who wish to excel in all areas of life, not simply business. To that end, I will strive to be the best I can be for your department, both professionally and personally. That, and I’ll start doing more than just spray Febreze over my body as I run out the door.

Q. "I must say, I am not impressed with you in the least. Where do you think you went wrong?"
A. Ah, my weaknesses. Well, I push myself too hard, often to the point of blackouts. Once I get an idea in my head I find it hard to let go. Even now I’m still thinking about why no one ever puts lettuce on a peanut butter sandwich. Oh, and I strive for perfection and thus am often crippled by the notion of my own inadequacies, especially my failure to pick a winning horse or be run over by a rich person.

Just remember, when it comes to inappropriate questions never get mad, never rise to the bait and never feel the need to lecture on good manners. Remain calm, answer questions directly and on your way out grab as much stationery supplies and office equipment as you can possibly shove in your pockets between the interviewer’s door and the elevator bank.

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