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Job Magician Interview Trap:  Beware of Always Agreeing with Your Interviewer  
  • Some job hunters feel that if they don't agree with everything their interviewer says, they won't get the job.
  • Beware of going down this path. Experienced interviewers will often test you with questions that make it appear like they are seeking exactly the opposite of what they really want.

A good interviewer will mix in a few trick questions with the straightforward ones.  These aren’t questions like, “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.”  That’s a straightforward question, but still stymies many interviewees (see Scary Interview Questions to learn how to answer this one).

The trick question will sound just like any other question to you.  It’s a question the interviewer is using to try to learn about your manners, your courtesy, or about an area where she has a serious question about how you handle certain issues.  The question will be veiled, and may even be stated backwards.

You come up with the answer that you think the interviewer wants.  And you’ve just turned her off.

 Imagine that they are replacing someone who was efficient, but heavy-handed.  They don’t want someone like that again – he was too hard on the employees, and turnover was high.  With the normal questions, your interviewer might slip in, “The last guy we had in this job was just a little too wimpy.  Never could get him to step up and take a stand, and his people walked all over him.  Can you tell me about times when you’ve had people who were overly assertive, and how you’ve dealt with them to make sure you were effective?”

You’re thinking, “OK, now I’ve got to show that I can really come across as a real toughie.  I’m not really like that – in fact, I hate dealing with managers like that.  But I want this job – I need this job – I better come up with something that makes me sound like a real hardass.”

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Job hunters, especially unemployed job hunters, will frequently lie. That’s why some interviewers will slip in some of these backwards questions – they want to find out what you’re really like.

If you wind up agreeing with the interviewer in all cases, or giving the answer that you think they want to hear, if the interviewer is astute, you’ll probably wind up sounding disingenuine – unless she’s an idiot, she’ll know that you’re pandering to her.

The best way to handle this is (surprise) to tell the truth. Don’t try to paint yourself in the image that you imagine the interviewer is seeking. First of all, if the interviewer is being straightforward, and you present a picture of yourself that is inaccurate, you’ll be miserable on the job until you get fired. If the interviewer is playing the backwards game, you won’t get hired in the first place.






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