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The New Stuff

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16  

What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?

Be prepared with a good example, explaining why the decision was difficult…the process you followed in reaching it…the courageous or effective way you carried it out…and the beneficial results.

Tell me about the most boring job you’ve ever had.

You have never allowed yourself to grow bored with a job and you can’t understand it when others let themselves fall into that rut.


17  

The “Fatal Flaw” question

As every master salesperson knows, you will encounter objections (whether stated or merely thought) in every sale. They’re part and parcel of the buyer’s anxiety. The key is not to exacerbate the buyer’s anxiety but diminish it. Here’s how…

Whenever you come up against a fatal flaw question:

Be completely honest, open and straightforward about admitting the shortcoming. (Showing you have nothing to hide diminishes the buyer’s anxiety.)

Do not apologize or try to explain it away. You know that this supposed flaw is nothing to be concerned about, and this is the attitude you want your interviewer to adopt as well.

Add that as desirable as such a qualification might be, its lack has made you work all the harder throughout your career and has not prevented you from compiling an outstanding tack record of achievements. You might even give examples of how, through a relentless commitment to excellence, you have consistently outperformed those who do have this qualification.

Of course, the ultimate way to handle “fatal flaw” questions is to prevent them from arising in the first place. You will do that by following the master strategy described in Question 1, i.e., uncovering the employers needs and them matching your qualifications to those needs.

Once you’ve gotten the employer to start talking about his most urgently-felt wants and goals for the position, and then help him see in step-by-step fashion how perfectly your background and achievements match up with those needs, you’re going to have one very enthusiastic interviewer on your hands, one who is no longer looking for “fatal flaws”.


18  

Where could you use some improvement ?

Keep this answer, like all your answers, positive. A good way to answer this question is to identify a cutting-edge branch of your profession (one that’s not essential to your employer’s needs) as an area you’re very excited about and want to explore more fully over the next six months.



19  

The Illegal Question


Illegal questions include any regarding your age…number and ages of your children or other dependents…marital status…maiden name…religion…political affiliation…ancestry…national origin…birthplace…naturalization of your parents, spouse or children…diseases…disabilities…clubs…or spouse’s occupation…unless any of the above are directly related to your performance of the job. You can’t even be asked about arrests, though you can be asked about convictions.

ANSWER: Under the ever-present threat of lawsuits, most interviewers are well aware of these taboos. Yet you may encounter, usually on a second or third interview, a senior executive who doesn’t interview much and forgets he can’t ask such questions.

You can handle an illegal question in several ways. First, you can assert your legal right not to answer. But this will frighten or embarrass your interviewer and destroy any rapport you had.

Second, you could swallow your concerns over privacy and answer the question straight forwardly if you feel the answer could help you. For example, your interviewer, a devout Baptist, recognizes you from church and mentions it. Here, you could gain by talking about your church.

Third, if you don’t want your privacy invaded, you can diplomatically answer the concern behind the question without answering the question itself.


20  

How do you feel about working nights and weekends ?

First, if you’re a confirmed workaholic, this question is a softball lob. Whack it out of the park on the first swing by saying this kind of schedule is just your style. Add that your family understands it. Indeed, they’re happy for you, as they know you get your greatest satisfaction from your work.

If however, you prefer a more balanced lifestyle, answer this question with another: “What’s the norm for your best people here?”

If the hours still sound unrealistic for you, ask, “Do you have any top people who perform exceptionally for you, but who also have families and like to get home in time to see them at night?” Chances are this company does, and this associates you with this other “top-performers-who-leave-not-later-than-six” group.

Depending on the answer, be honest about how you would fit into the picture. If all those extra hours make you uncomfortable, say so, but phrase your response positively.


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