Wednesday 26 June 2019

Interviews: Trip Questions

Trip questions are questions that will be asked during an interview, with one of three purposes:

  • To rattle you and see how you react to pressure
  • To test your motivation
  • To investigate an issue or subject around which there might be some sensitivity
Questions designed to rattle you:

Such questions intend to make you uncomfortable, in order to see how you act under pressure or in difficult situations. An interviewer’s opening line could be, “I don’t have much time for this”, or “The recruiter had to fight hard to get you into this interview. I hope it’s going to be worth my time”. These questions are clearly quite rude, but they’re also designed to rattle you.

Questions designed to test your motivation:

It’s natural that the interviewer would want to test what your real motivations for applying are. It’s possible that you could get a question along the lines of: “I know your interviewing for this position, but wouldn’t you really rather be going for [a different] vacancy?”. Alternatively, former coaching clients of mine have been asked: “I’m sure you think that this company represents a good port in the storm, but how do we know that you’re not going to up and leave once the market conditions improve?”

Questions designed to investigate areas of sensitivity:

It’s highly like that there are topics you are a bit touchy about, and would rather not be brought up in interview. This could be relating to an unfair or unpleasant dismissal, poor exam results, and so on. However, precisely because it will make you feel uncomfortable and might press the wrong button, an interview might throw a sensitive question in your direction.

If you had been let go by your former company in what was a shoddy manner, and in your rehearsal with the interviewer who's especially asking you about the context of your departure from Company X, in order to see your reaction. It is more safe not to proceeded to go on a rant about the context of your dismissal, which was clearly a sore spot. This needs to be anticipated as this might come up and practiced how to answer in a calm and composed manner. You must be able to answer it confidently and cooly in the real interview.

How to deal with trip questions?

There are five key ways to deal with trip questions in an interview:
  • Anticipate any issues that you think may come up and rehearse your answer. Compose sensible, level-headed answers in advance
  • During the interview process itself, recognise that a ‘trip question’ has been asked - and have some fun with it
  • Embrace the fact you have been asked a ‘trip question’: after all, if they weren’t interested in you as a candidate, they wouldn’t bother
  • Remain un-reactive and solid in your sense of self-belief. nAlways answer the question, and make sure you do so in a level-headed and composed manner.

Trip questions - they’re all too common, so it pays to be prepared.

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