Tackling Tough Questions



In a series of articles, for quite some time, we have been discussing the tough questions that are asked by interviewers. During discussions, we have arrived at the conclusion that the tricky questions, i.e. the so-called tough questions, call for your careful response as they may catch you unawares sometimes. We have already analysed a number of questions that invite you to criticise yourself as well as those inviting you to be negative. Besides, we have discussed how some employers want you to assure them how long it will take you to make a useful contribution to the company you want to join, and want to gauge information regarding your objectives in the first six months. If you are already working somewhere, the interviewer may ask you why you have applied for a job while – you are. already doing a job or how you manage to appear at interviews somewhere else, if you already do a job. The interviewer may also try to know if you are in the habit of criticising your boss. These questions we have already discussed and to clinch this we stress that though many of the so-called tough questions are supposed to catch you off guard, they are not really meant for that purpose. But some questions are really intended for just that purpose. But, in no case, they are not just unpleasant for the sake of it. They either have a good reason for wanting to know the answer, or interviewers want to know how you cope with the pressure of an unexpected question.
■ Now that the discussion on tough questions is coming to an end, let us consider some questions which may be asked by the interviewers all of a sudden, but not without any specific aim. For example, if you have applied for a sales post, the question we are going to discuss will not surprise you. But if you are not applying for a sales post, some interviewers will like to ask you this question with a special purpose. Their aim will be seeing that you focus not on features but. on the benefits to them. For example, consider the following question:
“How can you sell me your
Now the features may tempt you to say,
“It is made of silver.”
But you have to answer instead, “It will impress
“It writes very clearly.”
“It is very handy.”
“It is unbreakable and safe to carry”, etc.
The same is the case with a notepad, paperclip or whatever they have asked you to sell them. And then finish your answer half-jokingly,
“I think you have decided to buy this pen. Shall I put you down for two dozen?”
“Would you prefer it in black *or red?”
The interviewer may ask you a semi­trick question like the following: “Would you tell me a story?”
Here, the interviewer wants to confirm whether you have a sufficiently logical mind to ask for the question to be more specific before you answer it. You are supposed to ask the interviewer what kind of story he/she wants to hear. In all likelihood, the interviewer will ask for a story about yourself and is likely to specify whether he/she wants a work- related or a personal story. You are supposed to. tell an anecdote which must show you in a good light. (You had better decide in advance which anecdote you will describe, if you are asked to tell a story.)
These are some probable questions, no doubt, but the interviewer may ask you some general questions just to find out how much interest you take in the world in general, and also to get an idea of your values and attitude to life. For example, he/she may ask:
“What do you think about privatisation?”
“What is your idea about global warming?”
“Do you think that corruption is eating the society from within?” Whatever be the question, your answer should demonstrate that you can weigh both aspects of an argument. You need to make it amply clear that you do not view things casually or in an over- simplistic way. The interviewer must get convinced that you can discuss a subject fluently as well as you are capable of making judgements.
In any case, never get loud about your particular views (if you have some strong views about something). Always acknowledge the other side of the debate. Remember that you are going to be asked these questions only by the companies which think that the questions are relevant to them. For example, if you have applied for a job in a pharmaceutical company, you may be asked to express your views on supplying cost-price drugs to the developing countries. Similarly, if you have applied or are being interviewed for a job with a bank, you might be asked to express your views on interest rates. Therefore, you should get ready for the likely questions in advance.
You are, however, advised to bear in mind that if you are well prepared, there is no likelihood, even in the least, that the questions will boggle your mind. You must be able to take them in your stride. Even if you have not specifically prepared for any sort of question, you can answer it with confidence. The key rules are as follows: pause before you answer, if you need to (interviewers appreciate, it, because they see that you are really thinking about your answer). If you cannot make out the real meaning of the question, you must ask the interviewer politely to repeal it. You are supposed to stay cool and never get nervous. Never resort to any argument. Even if you feel like disclosing your weaknesses, you are advised not to admit to any significant weaknesses that can prove detrimental. On top of everything, never be drawn into criticising anyone. Always try to make your interview an easy-going conversation. But never forget the fact that the interviewers will interview you while chatting and you are not supposed to speak off the record. The interviewers will listen carefully to what you say.

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