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.
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
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.”
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.