Job interview: the keys to answering trick questions

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Posted on Aug 12, 2015 at 7:32 PMUpdated Nov 25, 2015, 6:11 PM

You probably won’t cut it, some trick questions have even become classics among recruiters. Several techniques can be used to get around them or get out of delicate situations.

1. List your main flaws or qualities.

Use this question to set yourself apart from your competition, but don’t just list your technical knowledge that’s already on your resume. Emphasize more on your interpersonal skills and your personality: your dynamism; your sense of mutual aid; good understanding with others; your responsiveness … Have specific examples in mind to illustrate your point.

Side faults – and we must give! – opt for those which can be easily forgiven or considered as qualities by the recruiter, while remaining subtle and avoiding commonplaces, such as “I am too perfectionist”. By saying that you don’t like working alone, you are emphasizing your aptitude for working in a team, for example.

Especially mention the work you are doing to correct this defect. This will reassure the recruiter about your ability to question yourself and to progress.

2. Are you not too young to have responsibilities?

This is clearly a provocation from the recruiter who aims to destabilize you and analyze your reaction. Politely deny this assertion and ask to be judged on your professional skills instead of your marital status. This often involves demonstrating your ability to respond to new challenges and adapt to a new environment through your past experience.

Take the opportunity to highlight the strengths of young people: your responsiveness to hard knocks; your ability to adapt to a new environment; your enthusiasm for undertaking new projects …

3. What compensation do you expect?

We must refrain from giving a false figure to this double-edged sword. If you cite too low a salary, you will devalue yourself in the eyes of the recruiter. If you give a number that is too high, it will anticipate your inevitable disappointment.

The ideal is to prepare for the job interview by consulting the salary guides (there are many online) which indicate the ranges practiced in your sector of activity. You can also return the question to him by asking him what salary range he is thinking of for the proposed position.

4. Why did you quit your previous job?

Be honest by giving a clear explanation for your departure: the lack of future prospects; a bad atmosphere; too low a salary, etc. Whatever happens, the recruiter often ends up discovering the real reason: professionals in the same sector maintain links!

It would be a bad start in the company if your new employer were to find out that you told him stories … Also avoid, it goes without saying, to speak badly about your future ex-company or to expand on the innumerable difficulties that you encounter there.

5. The recruiter points out the inconsistency of your curriculum

Again, honesty is the best course of action. There is no shame in having taken the wrong direction during your studies. The fact that you were able to correct the situation and make the right decision may even be turned to your advantage.

You can also argue and demonstrate consistency that is not obvious. For example: your desire to complete your university career by acquiring new skills.

6. Keep calm when faced with discriminatory questions

Sometimes applicants are asked by a recruiter if they want to have children. To avoid any deterioration of the interview, evade the subject by asserting a desire for children in the long term, but absolutely not immediately.

Likewise, questions of political opinion or religion should be dismissed by skillfully and politely indicating that it does not relate to your professional qualifications. However, this lack of ethics on the part of the recruiter can also be seen as a warning sign that the company does not offer a good working environment and that it is better to look elsewhere …


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