This was a question one of my candidates was asked this week. It’s really hard to believe that a candidate would get asked a question like that. What’s a candidate supposed to say?
The candidate, who is a minority, had sense enough to say that, “he really didn’t know much about it.” And then he very wisely shut up. Over the past years I’ve had candidates get asked what they thought of Trump, Hillary, all kinds of political stuff, their religion, their race, the fact that they were older …younger…female…etc. It’s absolutely amazing that an interviewing authority would be so brazen and/or stupid to ask a candidate about things like this when the answer should have absolutely nothing to do with getting the job or being hired.
So, what should a candidate do? They should do exactly what our candidate did… shut up! Whatever a candidate believes or thinks, the candidate cannot afford under any circumstances to answer the question either the way they really think or the way they think the hiring authority wants to hear. The candidate has to remember that they are there to get a job, not to make a political statement
.Any employer with any brains would know not to ask these kinds of questions. But it happens every day. There is a tendency for candidates who get the sense that the employer might feel the same way they do about certain things, runs their mouth off and starts making a public statement about their thoughts and their views. Even if it may appear that they agree with the interviewing or hiring authority the absolute best way to deal with these questions is to SHUT UP and simply say, “You know, I really don’t know very much about it.” And then say absolutely nothing.
No job candidate can afford to get in any kind of political, racial, social, religious or any controversial discussion with any potential employer. It just isn’t smart. Now if the candidate gets the feeling that the hiring authority or interviewing authority, in their estimation, is a wacko and doesn’t agree with anything they believe, they don’t have to go to work there. Now much of this depends on how badly they really need a job. But even if the job seeker might agree with the interviewing or hiring authority, it is still best to stop and direct conversation, if they can, back toward their qualifications and their ability to do the job.
It is really easy… really easy to fall into this trap. If you’re a job seeker you shouldn’t do it. There are a few organizations that we’ve worked with over the years who, during an interview, very politely stated that they were a very Christian organization and conducted a prayer meeting every morning and asked if the candidate was comfortable with that. Some candidates were not. But it was asked in a way that if a candidate wasn’t comfortable with that practice, then it was an indication that they probably wouldn’t take the job or go to work at the company. That was fair enough.
I mentioned a few weeks ago about one of the companies we deal with where foul language runs rampant throughout the whole company. But, they explain to a candidate before they get hired that everyone in the company is a toilet mouth and that if they aren’t comfortable with that kind of an environment they shouldn’t consider going to work there. They even tell us before we send the candidate that the company, from the CEO on down, is full of foul language and if the candidate is not comfortable with that kind of an environment, don’t even send them. Even that’s fair enough. (Kind of stupid, but fair enough. Interestingly enough, they are a very successful company. Isn’t free enterprise a miracle!)
So, the lesson is really clear. Any hiring or interviewing authority ought to have sense enough not to ask stupid, insane, ignorant questions. But that doesn’t keep it from happening. A job seeker has to be prepared to answer those kinds of questions by saying they really don’t know very much about it and then saying nothing more. This takes personal discipline. A job seeker has to remember that they’re not on an interview to save the whales, convert the world or any kind of global, social goal. They are there to get a job.
Now, if the candidate is so uncomfortable with such stupid, innane questions, they don’t have to go to work at the company. And I’ve had many, many candidates over the years decide not to pursue a company or an opportunity because they felt very uncomfortable about the questions they were being asked in the interviewing process. It is certainly their prerogative.
But if you’re a job seeker, don’t express any opinions about anything that don’t have something to do with your qualifications and your ability to do the job.
(I know that many of you might think, “Why are you even needing to write this?” Well, the reason is that this stuff happens more than most anyone will admit and it’s my job to help people through the process of getting a job and hiring people regardless of the insanity.)