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Situation: You belong to a category (physically challenged, a single parent, above 50 and so on) that might be considere

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This is more damaging than a concern vocally expressed. Because it is never expressed, you do not have a chance to respond. How do you defend your position in this case? The interviewer has not raised the question, but it is quite likely that he is a

Situation: You belong to a category (physically challenged, a single parent, above 50 and so on) that might be considered not competent enough for the position. The interviewer does not articulate his/her concern, but doubts lurk in his/her mind.

     

This is more damaging than a concern vocally expressed. Because it is never expressed, you do not have a chance to respond. How do you defend your position in this case?

The interviewer has not raised the question, but it is quite likely that he is asking it to himself and that he will answer it on his own. It is in your interests to help him find a positive answer.

But you cannot do it by addressing it head-on. This might offend the interviewer, or if he hasn’t really thought about it, plant such doubts in his mind. What you can do here is to present sufficient counterbalancing information discreetly so that it addresses the interviewer’s concerns.

For example you are a sales person with an amputated leg and needs a cane or crutch. This has not affected your performance, but you are concerned about the doubts the interviewer may have. Highlight your physical stamina and your ability to perform physical tasks when you are marketing yourself. This will in all likelihood help your case.

This rule applies in all cases where you do not belong to the ‘majority’. Avoid appearing defensive, but do present your strengths and accomplishments in such a way that it leaves no room for the interviewer to doubt your competence for the job.

57. What was the most difficult part of the job you held last?

This question is somewhat different from the question ‘what is the most difficult part of being (a position)?’ Here the question is what you personally found difficult with your last job. Needless to say, here it is more difficult to form a positive answer. Whatever caused you difficulty in your previous position will be taken as an area of your weakness.

It is therefore better to say that there was nothing that you found particularly difficult in your previous job. If the interviewer still presses to specify something, mention the parts you enjoyed more than others. Emphasize on aspects that are crucial for the position in question as the parts you enjoyed the most.

58. What is your definition of success? How would you rate yourself by your own definition?

This is an obvious question. You can do well by being prepared for it. Go for a universally accepted definition of success- all you need to take care is that this also matches well with your own achievements.

E.g. “I would like to look at success as the step-by-step progress towards a worthy goal. As to your question how I rate myself on those parameters, I have been both successful and fortunate” (Take the opportunity to briefly present your career targets and how your growth shows progress towards your goals”

59. What are your views on Capital Punishment/ Abortion…? (or some such controversial topic)?

These questions are not meant to be asked, but nevertheless come up especially when the setting of the interview is more relaxed. Most probably the interviewer has strong views of his/her own on these, and giving your honest view (which might be opposite theirs) might cost you the job. The safe way out is to ask a counter question. Something as simple as ‘Why do you ask?’ puts the responsibility back into the interviewer’s court. If they press you again for an answer, find some other question related to the same topic. Alternatively, you can go for some generality that is applicable to all situations. For example, if the interviewer asks about your political affiliations, you can counter it with ‘these days I find it hard to like politics/any politicians”

60. Imagine you won a huge lottery. Would you continue to work?

Think of what might be a real honest response and the consequences of blurting it out. If on the other hand you cannot say something as obvious as “no I would continue to work and love to be with your firm”.

This question aims to check on your basic underlying values and attitudes about work. Therefore give emphasis to your positive outlook about work in your answer.

E.g. “Obviously I will be very happy about the lottery. However I believe that money is not all that it takes for happiness. Achievement and purposeful work are essential for a happy life.”

“I love my work and would like to be involved in it all through my life. Perhaps the money from the lottery would give me more options on how to go about it.”

“But at the end of the day I believe it is good old fashioned hard work that makes one’s fortune. One cannot count on lotteries and further hard work has made many more fortunes than all the lotteries in the world put together”

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Posted on: March 25, 2008

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