Questioning the Questioner

How many times have you been in a job interview and been asked a question you felt forced you to, at best, stretch the truth, and at worst, downright lie?

Most of us want to be honest and appreciated for who we are, but too often, the questions we’re asked force us into a box of dishonesty.

That may be one of the many reasons so many Americans fear job interviews. In fact, as many as 9 in 10 employed adults said they fear something about the experience, according to data released in the 2013 Job Interview Anxiety Survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Everest College.

The telephone survey of 1,002 employed adults found that 92 percent of Americans are stressed by at least one thing about the job interview process. The biggest fear was having the jitters, as 17 percent of Americans stated being too nervous as their top concern, followed by being overqualified for the job (15 percent), being stumped by the employer’s questions (15 percent), being late for the interview (14 percent), being under qualified (11 percent), and not being prepared (10 percent).

Rather than think of the job interview as a game of “gotcha,” it would benefit companies to train managers to put applicants at ease with meaningful questions. How does your company do that?

For example, some companies I’ve interviewed with over the years have asked me to prepare something in advance (an article, research, or ideas). That material then was used as a basis for the conversation. Ironically enough, though, I once found that after being hired mostly on the basis of the ideas I produced, my ideas were not welcome.

What do you think is the best way to put job applicants at ease enough to have a meaningful exchange and to give both you and the applicant an idea of how they will do if they land the job?