"Not all questions have a right and wrong answer."
"Your responses should strike the right balance."
"In a tough job interview, it is important that you stay calm."
There are times when you go prepared for a job interview and yet face a tough interview panel.
What do you do then?
Do you fumble, ramble or just say the truth?
When unprepared with the answer in the face of a tough question during an interview, it may do one good to speak the truth and ask for a couple of minutes to organise one's thoughts.
Here are some tips to help you cruise through the situation and emerge a winner.
Evaluate the nature of the question
Evaluate whether the question demands a factual answer and is meant to test your general knowledge and awareness. A factual question like -- Who founded Google? -- demands a correct answer.
However, a subjective one, like -- What are your thoughts on gold as an investment option? -- can have various perspectives to it.
If you do not know the answer to a factual question, it is better to accept your ignorance and say: I'm sorry I do not know the answer.
In case of a subjective question, one can give a balanced answer by including as many perspectives as one can.
Even if a stand is taken, it ought to be taken at the end of your presentation with relevant anecdotes and references to validate your inference.
That way, one comes across as informed, balanced and someone who arrives at a conclusion through a relatively scientific process of facts and inferences.
Your answer reflects who you are
More often than not, interviewers ask tricky questions just so that they could gauge the candidate's personality.
For example, a question like -- Do you think it was right on the part of our company to introduce the new employee policy?
If you are going to consciously make an attempt to sound positive or agreeable just so that the company hiring you will consider your application, you could be mistaken.
It is important to be honest and at the same time, sound relevant and important.
You could say -- I think what the company did was right. But if I were in your place, I would....' depending on what you think is right.
Stay calm, Think
When faced with a tough interview or a tough question, it is important to stay calm.
Sometimes the question is just to test the ability of the candidate to handle pressure and difficult situations.
Under pressure, one must not say anything that could betray anxiety, nervousness, anger, thoughtlessness, biases and such other negative emotions.
Difficult situations are the true test of one's abilities.
One must view these as opportunities and not as threats.
Your positive attitude, confidence and presence of mind will alone help you cruise through a tough interview.
All the best!
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
The author Abhishek Kumar is Assistant Professor, School of Management and Labour Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences