500 Questions: Tough Questions, Part 8

We’ve received many top-notch candidates for this job and it will take some time to sort through them.

Begin your answer by giving congratulations to the employer and telling them that the job deserves a top-notch candidate. Then bring up your unique qualifications again, highlighting those skills most suited to the position.

Would you accept a temporary job?

If you say yes, the interviewer will believe that you just want work, any work, and will accept any job. A strong answer would be that you would be willing to work for a trial period to prove yourself but you would be unwilling to consider a purely temporary position. There are, however, times when due to hiring policy, only temporary positions are open. You need to explore when and how this will become a regular position.

Why do you want this job?

What a great opportunity to show commitment to a field and even a firm. Express enthusiasm and focus, beginning with a brief summary of your skills. Answer what you can do for the job, not what it can do for you!

May I contact your current employer?

Answer this question in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your current position. Possibly indicate that it is okay to contact your current employer once you have come to an agreement with the new firm. It would be better if your current employer heard about your job change from you directly.

When can you start?

If you have been laid off or fired, you can start immediately, of course. But if you are still working for someone else, you will need to give at least two weeks notice to your current employers. It is never wise to burn bridges, so be as accommodating as you can. Your new employer will understand, as they have no doubt been in a similar situation themselves.

May I contact your references?

Of course. Tell the interviewer that you will get back to him or her with a list of references that afternoon or the very next day. It is a good idea to ask past employers to give you a letter of recommendation, so that you know ahead of time what is being said. That way, if you are asked this question, you can pull out a sheaf of accolades and give them to the interviewer.