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We're a very aggressive organization here. You seem to be a fairly laid-back, rather quiet person. How do you get along with very aggressive folks?

A simple answer like, "When people get to know me, they don't think that I am really 'quiet.' I am intensely interested in the opportunity with your company, so I'm trying to listen very well. I've always been able to get along with just about every kind of person and personality."

On a personal level, what would your previous boss or present boss say about you?

"I've always got along very well with my bosses. Even though I think that everyone that I've ever worked for both directly and indirectly thought highly of me, beyond social engagements like dinners or golf games, I've always tried to keep our relationships business."

What was it like for you growing up?

This could border on an illegal question, if the interviewing or hiring authority seems to be asking about your religion, ethnic background, etc. Most hiring authorities, when they ask this question, simply want to get a sense of your character or values. A person who might describe his or her growing up as a tumultuous experience or, as some people would say, "I was a mess," might communicate that he or she is presently "a mess." As in any other question, answering it with "true confessions" that communicate personal instability doesn't bode well. The best answer is to describe your growing up as a "great" experience. If, in growing up you had overcome personal or family challenges and they communicate a positive attitude or strong work ethic, then certainly describe the experience.

Have you ever had to overcome any personal hardships?

Whatever you'd do, do not describe your terrible, acrimonious divorce; your run-ins with the law, your DWIs, your being thrown out of your house by your spouse, your three bankruptcies, or anything that communicates poor judgment. Even things like overcoming cancer will frighten an employer. Describing "character-building" challenges, like growing up without a lot of money, having to work from a very young age, being forced to put yourself through college, overcoming the death of a parent at a very young age, etc., will answer the question to your benefit.

If you were to invite three famous people to dinner, whom would you invite?

This is a dumb question, but if you are asked it, you pretty much have to answer it. Be careful of answering this question politically or religiously. If you say something like, "Jesus Christ, Buddha, and the Pope," you open yourself up to judgment that has nothing to do with getting the job. I would recommend to sticking to business-oriented individuals. Saying something like, "Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump," whether they're presently alive or not, is safe.

If you were me, what question should I ask that you really don't want to answer?

This is also a dumb question, but it gets asked more than most people might think. The idea is to take you off your guard. Be ready! Keep it something very light and almost funny. Say something like, "Looking back, who did you first have a romantic crush on and what do you think of him or her now? Answer: "My fifth grade teacher. I think she died last year." Do not take this question real seriously, ponder it, and come up with some answer that puts you in a positive light. (I had a candidate one time who was asked this question by a very attractive female hiring authority. He was so thrown off by the question that he answered with his instincts. It cost him the job!)

Do you like me as a person?

Simply responded by saying, "Well, I don't know you very well at all, but I think we have good chemistry. You are a very good interviewer."

 
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