It would be great to be a fly on a wall during and after interviews. It would be even better to be a fly on the wall that used the knowledge gained from the interviews to home your skills for your next interview. If you were that fly, you would recognize there are certain questions that are more important than others. And loaded interview questions are often the most important and often the most difficult regardless of whether you are interviewing for your first real job or you are a seasoned interviewee.
The great thing about loaded interview questions is that once you identify them and the pitfalls they present, you will be able to answer them better than your competition.
The Purpose of Loaded Interview Questions
For this specific blog, loaded interview questions are those questions that can be very problematic to answer. Some loaded interview questions are extremely vague, some require the interviewee to choose between equally unsuitable answers, and others open the door for the interviewee to provide a negative response.
Remember: When answering loaded interview questions, a skilled interviewer will be comfortable with silence. Identify this when answering and know when to stop talking. Many an interview can run off the rails when an interviewee throws in a last, disastrous thought because they felt compelled to keep talking!
Three Loaded Interview Questions to Watch Out for
If you were promoted to your former boss’s position, what would you do differently?
If you haven’t heard, never badmouth your former boss or co-workers. This question invites the interviewee to unload on a former boss’s mistakes, weaknesses, or peccadillos.
In order to answer the question with success, choose stylistic differences you may have with your former boss. State them in a non-emotional way. For instance, you might answer that you may write a weekly newsletter about corporate news because, as an employee, you enjoyed learning what was in the potential work pipeline.
After you explain, you may want to share how positive the experiences were with former bosses and how you learned a great deal in your tenure.
In your opinion, what was the worst aspect of your last job?
(See previous answer.) This question provides you the latitude to criticize the company (versus the boss). It’s a common question and deservedly so, because it might provide insight as to why you are looking for a new job. This is the perfect question to answer with the sandwich feedback model. The meat of the sandwich is the reason for politely informing the interviewer of an aspect of the previous job you found less than fulfilling. The upper and lower bread of the sandwich are positive comments about the job.
Here is an example of the sandwich feedback model. Top piece of bread: “I learned an incredible amount in my last position.” Meat: “But, I am ready for additional responsibility and an expansion of my current skills.” Bottom piece of bread: “I met many talented people in my last position; I will certainly miss them.”
Provide an example of a project in which you were involved that fell short
Do not allow yourself to cast blame on clients, co-workers, or unforeseen circumstances. The interviewer wants to know your understanding of the project, your involvement in why or how the project fell short of expectations, and what and how you learned from the experience.
Past Performance Is an Indicator of Future Behavior
Everyone has likely heard this mantra. Many believe it is not necessarily true because human behavior is so complex. Regardless, always interview with the understanding that interviewers who see you bad-mouth a boss, cast aspersions on co-workers, or play victim concerning your last job, may believe you could treat them the same way if they hire you.
If you can identify and successfully answer loaded interview questions, you have a leg up on your competition.
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