Your interviewer may press you for this information for two reasons.
First, many companies use interviews to research the
competition. It’s a perfect set-up. Here in their own lair, is an insider from
the enemy camp who can reveal prized information on the competition’s plans,
research, financial condition, etc.
Second, the company may be testing your integrity to see
if you can be cajoled or bullied into revealing confidential data.
What to do? The answer here is easy. Never reveal anything
truly confidential about a present or former employer. By all means, explain
your reticence diplomatically. For example, “I certainly want to be as open as
I can about that. But I also wish to respect the rights of those who have
trusted me with their most sensitive information, just as you would hope to be
able to trust any of your key people when talking with a competitor…”
And certainly you can allude to your finest achievements
in specific ways that don’t reveal the combination to the company safe.
But be guided by the golden rule. If you were the owner of your present
company, would you feel it ethically wrong for the information to be given to
your competitors? If so, steadfastly refuse to reveal it.
Remember that this question pits your desire to be cooperative against your
integrity. Faced with any such choice, always choose integrity. It is a far
more valuable commodity than whatever information the company may pry from you.
Moreover, once you surrender the information, your stock goes down. They will
surely lose respect for you.
One President we know always presses candidates unmercifully for confidential
information. If he doesn’t get it, he grows visibly annoyed, relentlessly
inquisitive, It’s all an act. He couldn’t care less about the information. This
is his way of testing the candidate’s moral fiber. Only those who hold fast are
question is your opportunity to hit the ball out of the park, thanks to the
in-depth research you should do before any interview.
Best sources for researching your target company: annual
reports, the corporate newsletter, contacts you know at the company or its
suppliers, advertisements, articles about the company in the trade press.
(job title you’re seeking);
…a good manager;
…an executive in serving the community;
…a leading company in our industry; etc. Think of the most essential ingredients of success for
each category above – your job title, your role as manager, your firm’s role,
Identify at least three but no more than six qualities you
feel are most important to success in each role. Then commit your response to
Here, again, the more information you’ve already drawn out
about the greatest wants and needs of the interviewer, and the more homework
you’ve done to identify the culture of the firm, the more on-target your answer
Where do you see yourself
five years from now? Reassure your interviewer that you’re looking to make a
long-term commitment…that this position entails exactly what you’re looking to
do and what you do extremely well. As for your future, you believe that if you
perform each job at hand with excellence, future opportunities will take care
“I am definitely interested in making a long-term commitment to my next
position. Judging by what you’ve told me about this position, it’s exactly what
I’m looking for and what I am very well qualified to do. In terms of my future
career path, I’m confident that if I do my work with excellence, opportunities
will inevitable open up for me. It’s always been that way in my career, and I’m
confident I’ll have similar opportunities here.”
What would you do if
a fellow executive on your own corporate level wasn’t pulling his/her
weight…and this was hurting your department?
Try to gauge the political style of the firm and be guided accordingly.
In general, fall back on universal principles of effective human relations –
which in the end, embody the way you would like to be treated in a similar
“Good human relations would call for me to go
directly to the person and explain the situation, to try to enlist his help in
a constructive, positive solution. If I sensed resistance, I would be as
persuasive as I know how to explain the benefits we can all gain from working
together, and the problems we, the company and our customers will experience if