Deflect Tricky Questions to Avoid a Response You Might Regret

Sometimes in a job interview, you might be asked questions you’d rather not answer. Responding honestly might compromise your privacy, but declining to answer might make you look bad. Instead, think about how you can deflect these tricky questions. First, anticipate the difficult things you might be asked, such as inquiries about your relationship/marital status, age, or political affiliation. Then, think of responses that focus on the other person. For example, if you’re asked, “When do you plan on having children?” the deflection could be: “Do you have any children?” Or a humorous response might be: “At least nine months apart. Is there a different norm at this company?” Inventing responses on the spot can be difficult, so practice ahead of time, or consider rehearsing your answers with a colleague or friend. Our natural instinct is to answer a direct question, so thinking in advance about deflection can help you guide the conversation and protect your interests.

This tip is adapted from “How to Deflect Difficult Questions in an Interview or Negotiation,” by Brad Bitterly and Maurice E. Schweitzer

Categories: Management and Career Tips

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