“Perhaps I’ve been fortunate, but that I’ve never found myself bored
with any job I have ever held. I’ve always enjoyed hard work. As with actors
who feel there are no small parts, I also believe that in every company or
department there are exciting challenges and intriguing problems crying out for
energetic and enthusiastic solutions. If you’re bored, it’s probably because
you’re not challenging yourself to tackle those problems right under your
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.
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
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”.
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.
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
If you are over 50 and are asked, “How old are you?” you can answer
with a friendly, smiling question of your own on whether there’s a concern that
your age my affect your performance. Follow this up by reassuring the
interviewer that there’s nothing in this job you can’t do and, in fact, your
age and experience are the most important advantages you offer the employer for
the following reasons…
Another example: If asked, “Do you plan to have children?”
you could answer, “I am wholeheartedly dedicated to my career“, perhaps adding,
“I have no plans regarding children.” (You needn’t fear you’ve pledged eternal
childlessness. You have every right to change your plans later. Get the job
first and then enjoy all your options.)
Most importantly, remember that illegal questions arise
from fear that you won’t perform well. The best answer of all is to get the job
and perform brilliantly. All concerns and fears will then varnish, replaced by
respect and appreciation for your work.
How do you feel about
working nights and weekends ?
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
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.
“I love my work and do it exceptionally well. I think the results speak
for themselves, especially in …(mention your two or three qualifications of
greater interest to the employer. Remember, this is what he wants most, not a
workaholic with weak credentials). Not only would I bring these qualities, but
I’ve built my whole career on working not just hard, but smart. I think you’ll
find me one of the most productive people here.
I do have a family who likes to see me after work and on
weekends. They add balance and richness to my life, which in turn helps me be
happy and productive at work. If I could handle some of the extra work at home
in the evenings or on weekends, that would be ideal. You’d be getting a person
of exceptional productivity who meets your needs with strong credentials. And
I’d be able to handle some of the heavy workload at home where I can be under
the same roof as my family. Everybody would win.”