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Trick Question

It’s less common than “What’s your biggest weakness?” but I’ve had several interviewers ask this– “What’s the worst experience you’ve had on a show?”

This is one of those times when honesty is not the best policy.

You see, what they’re really asking is, “Are you a complainer? Do you get along with people? Do you hold a grudge?”

The absolute worst answer you can give is, “I had this one boss who was a huge asshole. She hated me for no reason whatsoever.” Do you know who says that? Assholes.

Even in the rare case where that’s actually true, no one will believe you. They’ll think you’re the kind of person who externalizes and deflects any criticism.

But never fear! There is hope. You still have some options.

First, you can go with, “You know, I’ve been really lucky. I don’t think I’ve been on a bad show. Sure, there’s been hard work and long days, but it beats working in a coal mine.”

Suddenly, you’re the girl with the sunny disposition. Having a positive attitude isn’t about some magical thinking nonsense; it’s about people liking you. Everyone likes positive people, and wants to keep them around.1 That’s how you get jobs.

The other option is to swing the pendulum the other way. Tell a story that is so outrageously horrible, so over-the-top ridiculous, that they’ll hardly believe it really happened. But more importantly, make it funny. Show that there’s no hard feelings, that you understand foolishness is just part of the job.

Make ’em laugh, and they’ll hire you every time.

Footnotes    (↩ returns to text)

  1. It’s the inverse of #7 on my list of newbie mistakes.
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3 Responses

  1. “Make ‘em laugh, and they’ll hire you every time.”

    I love ya, man, but not true. I’m funny as f*ck and have been searching for a job for YEARS. (well, one I actually want. I keep ending up at places where I’m the one with the highest education and my boss is younger than me and we don’t actually make anything.) A few months ago I made the woman interviewing me laugh so much she asked if I did stand-up on the side. I was certain I’d at least get a second interview, but nooooooooooope.

    Next interview I’m trying the “never had a bad experience,” bullsh*t. ;P

    1. Oh, man, really? That is totally the opposite of my experience. If I make the coordinator laugh, I just tell all the other PAs waiting in the lobby to go home, the job is filled.

      Let me know how the bullshit goes. 😀

  2. A few years ago, I had been unemployed for about 2 years, and barely got my second interview after my benefits had ended. I had experienced two trick questions:

    1) Why have you been unemployed for 2 years?

    and

    2) Do you know what HD is?

    The second threw me off guard the most. I was scrambling for the answer along the lines of “1080p…blah blah”. And before I could really give an answer, she says “high definition”. Really?! I felt a little insulted.

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