Bangladesh Slideshow

25 May, 2007

Interview Blues

An acquaintance was recently asked at a job interview to say something about himself that wasn’t on his CV. I wonder what one is supposed to say at such times? ‘I love watching cricket.’ ‘Net-surfing is my favorite pastime.’ Or as I would probably say, ‘Can’t live without books.’

When one is asked such a question, what should the right answer be? Everything that could possibly make a positive impression and provide an edge over the other candidates is already down in black and white on the two carefully written pages. Could it mean that the interviewers want to get to know the interviewee as a person? Unlikely! I mean, what possible bearing could the fact that one is an avid cricket fan have on one’s prospects as a Management Trainee at a multinational corporation??

Some other ‘good’ questions asked at interviews:

Q. Tell us why you want to leave your present job?
A. Because your pay is much better than what I am making right now. (Honest. But a tad mercenary-sounding, wouldn’t you agree? Also implies that you'll leave for a greener pasture the moment opportunity knocks.)

Q. Why should we give you this promotion?
A. Because I have worked my a** off these past few years and I bloody well deserve a promotion! (Wow! Too aggressive by far!)

Q. How can you make a positive contribution to this organization?
A. I know very little about the company other than what is on the net, and I really have no clue what kind of contribution I’ll be making, positive or otherwise. (Such candid admission would certainly have a negative impact.)

Q. What are your weaknesses?
A. I am very short-tempered and a bit of a kleptomaniac but since I’ve never landed in any great trouble you really can’t consider these traits weaknesses. (Well… can you just visualize the prospective employer reeling??)

I once interviewed for a faculty position at the country’s most renowned public university. I fulfilled the academic requirements for the position and was by far the best candidate (even if I do say so myself). I was asked an obscure question from the syllabus, and answered honestly that I had never studied it. When asked why, I again honestly said that students study rather selectively for exams. I got the job but was informed later by the department’s chair that my candor had almost cost me the job. The right answer should have been, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten the answer to that question.’ A poor memory was apparently a preferable quality in a teacher than truthfulness.

My first lesson learnt as a teacher, ‘honesty is not always the best policy.’ What a strange world we live in!

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