500 Questions: Tough Questions, Part Two

What cultural interests have you developed in this area?

You are being asked about your cultural interests and whether you spend time in other pursuits in addition to work. Describe any local museums, art centers, schools that you have attended or, if that is not applicable to you, discuss other relevant culture activities.

If you could take a vacation and fly anywhere in the world, where would you go?

This question demonstrates an interview truism that few candidates realize: There is no such thing as an innocent question. You are being judged from the moment the interviewer sees you (or hears you on the telephone) until the offer of employment is made. Pay attention to questions like this as the interviewer may be trying to trick you. Be aware that you were asked if you could fly, so choose a destination that is available by airplane. The interviewer may also be wondering what you would do with your leisure time.

Could you work for someone significantly younger than you?

Be careful that you do not demonstrate any prejudice in your answer. Explain that you have the ability to get along with many types of supervisors and peers and a reputation for being a solid team member. Your best defense is to be prepared with a quick response that demonstrates your interpersonal skills and respect for other people. Confirm your professional attitude toward peers, supervisors, and managers in all situations, regardless of age.

Define cooperation.

The question asks you to explain how you function as a team player in the workplace. Tell the interviewer that you believe cooperation is a person’s ability to sacrifice personal wishes and beliefs whenever necessary to assure the department reaches its goals. It is also a person’s desire to be part of the team, and by hard work and goodwill make the department greater than the sum of its parts.

Do you think you could work for a woman supervisor?

Be careful that you do not demonstrate any prejudice against women in your answer. Explain that you have the ability to get along with many types of supervisors and peers and a reputation for being a solid team member. Your advance preparation should give you the power to take control of the interview, allowing you to emphasize the many ways in which the company can put your interpersonal skills to good use.

What part of your background would best indicate the role you could play on our team?

At this point in an interview, you would have little influence and knowledge of the actual team dynamics. Use this opportunity to talk about your adaptability and flexibility, while citing specifics from your background that indicate team roles you have played in previous positions.

About how often do you drink?

This is not a time to discuss your personal drinking habits, but if drinking has been a problem you have overcome in the past, you may want to make mention of it. However, it is preferable to avoid being too specific. Drinking occasionally or socially is generally an acceptable answer.