Stay Composed in the Face of Interview Zingers

Originally published on “The Work Buzz” blog by

Have you ever been asked a question in an interview that seems to come out of left field? One that makes you skip a beat and make you want to ask, “Come again?” and “Are you serious?” Unfortunately, not all interviewers ask the most kosher questions and it’s easy to become discombobulated.

Today’s guest blogger addresses this very issue.  Frances Cole Jones, author of “The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World” tells how to keep your cool even in the face of the most unnerving interview questions.

Don’t Get Flustered, Get Factual
By Frances Cole Jones

There appears to be an epidemic of inappropriateness pervading the job interview world these days. Several people I know have gotten questions that left them, literally, speechless — and one wasn’t so much disconcerted by a question as by the manner in which it was asked.

Following, a few suggestions I made for how each of them might have responded. If any of you have additional ideas, I’d love to hear them. (Alternatively, if you’ve been asked anything, or experienced anything, that left you confounded, I’d love to hear those stories, too.)

Q: “Do you know the average age of the people who work in this company?”

This was a question an older client of mine got when she applied for a position in a very youthful organization. While I can only speculate about what the interviewer’s intention might have been, I can tell you the result was my client left feeling shamed for even applying.

How did I recommend she handle this kind of leading question?

Leading questions demand fact-based responses. You don’t want to get into what you think your questioner is after, or do the dirty work of negating something that hasn’t been overtly stated.

Consequently, my Monday-morning quarterbacking coaching to her was to have responded, “I do.”

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