Ask The Career Coach

Ask The Career Coach

How Can I Dodge An Interview Question?

I interview people for a living and you will never get a job by dodging a question. There is a reason that an interviewer asks a question and by dodging a question, it is the equivalent of a manager telling you to do something and you answering ”no.” Believe me, after that, the interview will wrap up pretty quickly.

Instead, I would advise you to practice answering tough interview questions. Google “tough interview questions” and you should find lists of them. Read through the list and think through how you might answer the question given your circumstance. When I see people hedge when answering a question, it is usually around why they are no longer with an employer, what is one of their weaknesses and when a person has been unsuccessful. These are very common questions and you know that in 80% of interviews you will get at least one if not all coming at you, so prepare.

What interview questions are job candidates consistently least prepared to answer?

 I always ask the question “What interested you in this job?”, and it is amazing how few people can provide a well thought out answer. I usually get a variation of it uses my skills or the work seems interesting, but I usually do not get a fleshed out answer as to why the person took the effort to apply to this particular job of all the jobs out there. If you want to really wow a recruiter, show that you have done your homework and know how you could help the company. In other words, this is a great opportunity to sell yourself.

 Here is an example of a better way to answer this question.

 “I read through the job description, and I knew that this job would be a good fit because you need someone to do (provide a list of duties from the job description), and I have demonstrated in my previous positions at X, Y and Z that I can do these job requirements efficiently and with high quality. Also, having researched the company, I see you are (expanding rapidly, moving into new markets, focused on cost reduction, etc.), and with my skills (here you can add specific skills that would be applicable), I can help the company to meet that goal. Also, from what I learned in my research, the company culture seems to be X, and I do my best work in that type of environment.”

With the answer above, you have demonstrated that you have taken the time to research the company and have answered the immediate question of what you bring to the table. This will put you way ahead of most candidates.

For more information on how to answer “Why do you want this job?”, read my blog post here.

 What should you say to an interviewer if your are late?

You will be in a tough spot since you should never be late for an interview. Everyone should plan for the time needed to get to the interview and add extra time as a contingency should something go wrong.

Yet, I do know that sometimes the best plans go awry. Perhaps you had an unexpected flat tire or a road was unexpectedly closed. So how do you handle this situation?

  1. Call to tell the interviewer that you are running late. Most people have a mobile phone, so if you have one on you, in most circumstances you should be able to let the interviewer know ahead of time that you will not be on time and the approximate time you will be there. You can add the circumstances that will make you late if this is helpful for context (the bridge was out, my car would not start, etc.). If you are just running late, then skip the explanation. Least amount said, the better.

  2. Calm yourself down. You may be rattled. Take a minute or two to slow down your breathing. When you get to your destination, you may even want to make a quick stop in the bathroom to splash some water on your face, check your dress, and practice smiling. Smiling will also help calm yourself down.

  3. When you are introduced to the interviewer, apologize. Your tardiness may have caused issues with his/her schedule or with other people that need to meet with you, so be sincere in letting the team know that you are sorry for any inconvenience.

  4. There is no need to bring it up again in the interview. Obviously, this situation is not to your advantage, so there is no need to remind the interviewer of it.

Being late to an interview is not good, but it does not mean you are out of the running for the job. A family member of mine got into a car accident on the way to the interview in a car that the company rented for him. Obviously not a great first introduction. Yet, he did get the job. If this happens to you, still give the interview your best effort. You never know what the result might be.


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