For the long-term unemployed or those workers looking for a change, getting an interview in today’s market may feel like a win in itself. But once you’re in the door, interviewers often put you through an obstacle course of deceptive questions with double meanings or hidden agendas. Do you know how to read the subtext?
“On the other side of the desk, hiring managers spend countless long hours interviewing candidate after candidate,” says Joyce Lain Kennedy, a nationally syndicated careers columnist and author of Job Interviews For Dummies. “A tricky question may be used as a time management tool to quickly eliminate a less qualified candidate.”
No. 1: Why have you been out of work so long, and how many others were laid off?
This question may also be followed by the more direct, “Why were you laid off?” Kennedy says it is an attempt to figure out if there’s something wrong with you that your former company or that other potential employers have already discovered. The interviewer may be trying to determine if themes of recession and budget cuts were used to dump second-string employees, including you. Rather than answering the question directly and chancing an emotional response or misinterpretation, Kennedy advises punting. Respond: “I don’t know the reason. I was an excellent employee who gave more than a day’s work for a day’s pay.”
No. 2: If employed, how do you manage time for interviews?
“The real question is whether you are lying to and short-changing your current employer while looking for other work,” says Kennedy. The interviewer may wonder: If you’re cheating on your current boss, why wouldn’t you later cheat on me? She suggests placing the emphasis on why you’re interested in this position by saying you’re taking personal time and that you only interview for positions that are a terrific match. If further interviews are suggested, Kennedy advises mentioning that the search is confidential and asking to schedule follow-ups outside of normal working hours.
No. 3: How did you prepare for this interview?
The intention of this question is to decipher how much you really care about the job or if you’re simply going through the motions or winging it. Kennedy says the best way to answer is by saying, “I very much want this job, and of course researched it starting with the company website.” Beyond explaining how you’ve done your homework, show it. Reveal your knowledge of the industry, company or department by asking informed questions and commenting on recent developments.
Questions 4 - 10 and complete Forbes article