Glenford Smith | Getting personal in job interviews
Q: Mr Smith, I was at an interview recently, and the question asked of me was what was something I had done that I am now ashamed of. I could think of more than one thing that I did, and failed to do come to think of it that I was not proud about. I couldn't think of any, however, that I really wanted to share. What should I do in such a situation?
A: Thank you for your question. There are questions that an interviewer does not have any business asking, and this is one such. But it is asked to see if you recognise this, or to see if you can think on your feet.
While you might feel like telling the interviewer that it's none of his business, the fact that you're in a job interview means that you can be asked anything and dictates that you do otherwise. It is up to you to frame an answer that paints you in a good light. So how do you do this in such a way that you don't blow the interview and make a bad impression?
If you are inexperienced or ill-prepared for the interview, you can make a mess of this question.
Interviewees can find themselves talking about something they feel particularly guilty about, delving into how it made them embarrassed or uncomfortable.
Or they can find themselves confessing something about their parents that is stressing them that they feel guilty about. Any answers like those are disastrous as the interviewer was most likely listening for it. That is one step closer to failing the interview. And it is completely avoidable by arming yourself with what you are learning.
First thing is to never confess a weakness or admit something you did that you are ashamed of. You are there to talk about how you can be the best solution to the interviewer's company. But you don't want to seem as if you are stonewalling either.
Say that you are someone who carries no regrets. you readily express sorrow over something you have made a mistake with or something that is embarrassing. Then add a principle, habit, or method you practise regularly as part of good human relations.
Now before giving an example, I want to say this to you up front. Interviewing for a job is like auditioning for a part in a play. People who say that they just like to be themselves, and don't act the part they want are limiting themselves. Think about this very deeply.
I say that to say you must exude supreme confidence, while saying all of this. Pause for a moment as if you were thinking about it. You are looking like this question had never crossed your mind. Then say: 'I really can't think of anything'.
Then pause again, then say something like this: 'Let me add that as a general principle, I circumvent regrets by avoiding them in the first place. I practise one habit in this regard. At the end of the day I'll review how the day went and the various people I dealt with. I am likely to see where I could have complimented someone or spent a few moments talking over something, whatever the case is. Next day, I would follow-up.'
- Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'. firstname.lastname@example.org