Do you have an interview set up? If you do you need to make sure you’re prepared. Get some great tips on interview prep below. Tell me about something funny that has happened to you
Do you have an interview set up? If you do you need to make sure you’re prepared. Get some great tips on interview prep below.
Tell me about something funny that has happened to you at work
The Real Question: Can I stand to be cooped up in the same office with you forty-odd hours a week?
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Top-line Tactic: Make a joke at your own expense.
Humor can be a serious business. Studies (by actual business-school professors, not comedians) have shown laughter has a powerful ability to fight stress and bond teams. If your interviewer asks this question, he or she is probably looking ahead to the time when you might be working alongside each other for most of the week and wondering if you’ll add to or subtract from the office laughter quotient.
The problem is while laughter is powerful stuff it’s also quite personal. A joke that will have one person rolling on the floor will result in eye rolls from someone else. So while you really don’t want to come across as a humorless killjoy here by drawing a blank, you also don’t want to inadvertently baffle or offend your potential new employer with the episode you choose.
If you’re naturally hilarious, there’s probably little a article on interviewing technique can add. Just be yourself. But if you’re less sure of your comedic abilities, the safest way to proceed is to skip barbed humor, mockery or the politically incorrect and simply make fun of yourself instead. It’s a rare person who doesn’t appreciate self-deprecation in others, so nearly all interviewers will take a joke at your own expense as a sign that you will be able to help your team through tough times with your sense of humor.
Remember that time the sole of your shoe disintegrated and your teammate followed the trail to your desk, much to your embarrassment? Or that colleague’s birthday party where you accidentally dropped the cake? Now is the time to break out that sort of innocuous, victimless story.
What is it about this job that you would least look forward to?
The Real Question: Are you going to like this job? Are you drawn to it for the right reasons? Do you have the guts for it? Is this job consistent with your career goals—and if not, what’s the real reason you’re applying?
Top-line Tactic: Acknowledge an unfortunate (but key) aspect of the job and say how you have dealt with it before.
This question is not an opportunity to pretend that the job holds zero downside for you. It is a wonderful opportunity to show you’re tougher than the rest.
The clichéd answer to this question sees you cherry-pick an infrequent task and hide behind the fact that you won’t be performing it very often. If you can do that and sound like you mean it, then good luck. In truth, most of the time you will probably come over like you’re dodging the question.
A better tactic is to pick on a part of the job that nobody in their right mind would enjoy. There is not a job in the world that doesn’t have obvious drawbacks. You should talk about a vacancy’s difficulties in a way that proves you can handle them, preferably with reference to experience.
I think every job involves difficult choices. Sometimes you have to disappoint people, and no one in their right mind likes doing that. But I know it’s not something I can avoid.
As an estate agent, I don’t enjoy telling someone their house will never sell for what they’re asking. There’s a lot of wishful thinking in property—it’s human nature. But if I don’t tell them the truth, no one can move on.
I always say that the facts are friendly. It means I sometimes need to let people get angry, let off steam right in front of me—but that isn’t going to kill me. I know they’re usually annoyed with the situation, not me personally.
So, to answer your question, I don’t look forward to disappointing people within the first two minutes of meeting them, but I do it all the time and it’s not a problem.
Your interviewer will warm to you if you can gracefully acknowledge that no job gives you a buzz 100 percent of the time, but that this job would enable you to feel a buzz most of the time—and that you will gladly accept that trade-off.
Final pointer: it is natural to be apprehensive about a task you’ve never done before, but it would be a mistake to select that task in your answer here. Without experience, you’re less able to judge whether a new task is a key part of the job—plus you’re forgoing a free chance to cite the relevant experience you do have.
Remember: you’re tougher than the rest.
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