Already employed, but looking for a new job or approached by a recruiter to interview somewhere else? Navigating the job market without tipping off your current employer is difficult enough, but you should also be aware pitfalls that could have you sabotaging yourself in the interview as well.
Interviewers can be subtle in trying to sleuth information from you to find out more about you as well as to gain competitive intelligence. Here are three sample, sneaky interview questions you might want to watch out for during your next job interview:
How do you manage time for interviews, while currently employed?
What the interviewer is really trying to gather here is what your true character is as an employee. Are you lying to your current employer about time out of the office or skipping out of work while still getting paid? And, if you’d do that to your current employer, will you do the same to them?
Of course, every company understands that if you are currently employed that there is some discretion that has to occur in your job search, but how you handle answering the question is what will show your true colors.
Turn the question on its head and reiterate the importance of your interest in the particular position and the significance that if you didn’t feel it was a good match you would not have invested personal time out of the office to interview. Note the personal time–you want to be sure they understand you are taking documented time off from your job and not cheating your current employer out of time and money by saying you’re at a client meeting.
Additionally, if all is on good terms during the interview and everything is looking like it is progressing forward, don’t be afraid to mention that the search is confidential and to ask if possible to schedule any additional follow-ups outside of normal business hours.
But, do be flexible on this point and stress the ‘if possible.’
Never tell the interviewer you’re lying to your boss to make the interview. It shows disrespect and poor planning on your part.
How does this position compare with others you’re applying for (or your current position)?
Here’s a question that is really about trying to gain competitive intelligence on the job market and you. One, if you’re currently employed you don’t want to look desperate by comparing the job to the 10 others you’ve applied for. The interviewer will wonder what the distress is in finding a new position: are you about to be fired, are their skeletons in your closet at your current employer?
You can try to go the more general route in making a few comments on comparing the position you’re interviewing for to the industry and reiterating all the standout points that draw you to the job. You can also play the card of being discreet and stating you respect the privacy of the other companies and don’t ‘interview and tell’ so to speak.
Make sure you keep the focus on you and your fit for the job. Be wary if the line of questioning keeps going back to the other companies and direct questions about them–this interview may not be about you at all but about the interviewer taking advantage to learn insights into the competition.
You don’t want to be a pawn and you also don’t want to lose your old job because they found out you fed information to their rival. Be honest, but always make sure you are editing what you say to present yourself well.
Why do You Want to Leave Your Current Position?
This question shows your honesty and character as an employee. You can learn further detail about approaching this question in our article, The Why Are You Looking for a Job Interview Question, but for the currently employed job seeker you want to be careful of a few things. Again, like answering the question above, you don’t want to appear desperate, and you also want to show respect for your current employer.
If you’re spilling the dirty details about your current company or bad mouthing them, the interviewer might think you are a Chatty Cathy with little discretion and will share their company’s dirty laundry if hired. Don’t focus so much on what is wrong with your current position, but on the opportunities that await you in the new position that drew you to applying.
When you are currently employed, while you have the added security of having a job, you also have to protect that job security when you interview. Not all interviewers are trying to trick you, even when they’re asking the above questions, but that doesn’t mean you might not still be a culprit of TMI (too much information.)
Remember, people in every industry tend to know others in the industry so you could be sitting across the golfing buddy of your boss or the next sales meeting for the business development team. You don’t want to be a source of negative conversation, so don’t give the interviewer anything to gossip about and bring your name down.
It’s not a perfect world, and yes, for good or for bad, whether discreetly or not, some interviewers and hiring managers do talk. But, if you show respect, good judgment, tact, and diplomacy in the interview you will most likely get that in return and not put your current job in jeopardy.