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How to handle a difficult job interview

17 Mar 2020 / 10:36 H.

    IT’S not easy to deal with inappropriate questions during job interviews, which are meant to take place with candidate and potential employer on an equal footing.

    “Ideally an interview is an opportunity to get to know each other and to find out whether an applicant’s qualifications are right for the job,” says Wiebke Blanquett, an expert on discrimination and personnel at the University of Bremen.

    But candidates are often asked questions about their private lives which by law is not allowed, she says. Interviewees need to have their wits about them: because it can be hard to think of a good response off the cuff, she advises people to think about potential answers to such questions in advance.

    “It’s best to think about different strategies and to react accordingly, depending on how reliant one is on the job.”

    If asked “are you pregnant?” a candidate could say something like, “No, are you?” or, “Of course, I’m eight months pregnant with triplets.”

    If asked about childcare arrangements, women can simply say “my parents live around the corner.” Even when it’s not true a lie can sometimes be the best option.

    Should an employer ask whether a female candidate wants children, she could say for example: “A family isn’t something I’m thinking about at the moment, I want to concentrate on my career.”

    Another strategy can be to “counter attack,” although for that you need to be very confident and have the security of not really needing the job.

    But in that instance an applicant could say “That question is illegal. We both know it” and potentially add “You may withdraw the question” or “Ask me the next question.”

    The main thing is to remain calm and try to steer the interview back onto a professional level. – dpa

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