“The Opinion Question”
– What do you think about …Abortion…The President…The Death Penalty…(or any
other controversial subject)?
In all of these instances, just remember the tale about student and the
wise old rabbi. The scene is a seminary, where an overly serious student is
pressing the rabbi to answer the ultimate questions of suffering, life and
death. But no matter how hard he presses, the wise old rabbi will only answer
each difficult question with a question of his own.
In exasperation, the seminary student demands, “Why,
rabbi, do you always answer a question with another question?” To which the
rabbi responds, “And why not?”
If you are ever uncomfortable with any question, asking a
question in return is the greatest escape hatch ever invented. It throws the
onus back on the other person, sidetracks the discussion from going into an
area of risk to you, and gives you time to think of your answer or, even
better, your next question!
In response to any of the “opinion” questions cited above,
merely responding, “Why do you ask?” will usually be enough to dissipate any
pressure to give your opinion. But if your interviewer again presses you for an
opinion, you can ask another question.
Or you could assert a generality that almost everyone
would agree with. For example, if your interviewer is complaining about
politicians then suddenly turns to you and asks if you’re a Republican or
Democrat, you could respond by saying, “Actually, I’m finding it hard to find
any politicians I like these days.”
(Of course, your best question of all may be whether you
want to work for someone opinionated.)