An Interview Where Being Honest Burned Me

by Scott
(Delaware, OH, USA)

I arrived for the interview 10 minutes early. I was ushered into a closet-like room, where there was only enough space for two chairs and a card table. They apologized for the odd interview room, stating they were new to the building and all of their furniture had not arrived.

I sat and waited for a few minutes, and a woman walked in. She smiled, and we made our normal introductions. Her only question was "What is it about management that makes you angry?"

Needless to say, I was very taken aback. I had never been asked a question like that in an interview.

As uncomfortable as it made me, I answered honestly (which is how I have always handled all of my job interviews). I told her that when managers spend all their time delegating their work to others and basically do nothing it angers me.

She asked me to state another thing that angers me in management. I told her it is irritating when your manager does not know how to do all the jobs she/he is managing. I told her I felt that if you are a manager, you should know how to do every job that you supervise. She nodded and excused herself.

In a few minutes, after I had been left to ponder what on Earth was going on, a man entered the little room. He sat down and told me that he did not think I would work well in the office because it was obvious that I had management issues and did not like to take orders from other people.

I was in shock and just sat there a minute. I instantly decided this place was crazy, nodded, and excused myself from the interview.

I learned that sometimes honesty is NOT what employers are looking for. Sometimes, I think they just want you to fill their minds with useless sunshine. I would say, if the question seems like a trick or really out there, answer with a question. I should have said, "Why do you ask?" It was just the weirdest interview ever for me.

Lisa's Response

That's a tough question. Here's what I tell clients about answering this job interview question:

Employers sometimes ask negative questions like:
What is it about management that makes you angry?
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult co-worker.

When most people are asked these questions, their first response is to think about the most obnoxious person they ever worked with. That is not the person you should talk about. If you are still annoyed, it doesn't matter how carefully you choose your words; your anger will come across in the interview. The interviewer will assume incorrectly that you have issues with management or can't handle difficult situations.

Instead of talking about the most obnoxious person you ever worked with, talk about a situation that was difficult but you handled it well and solved the problem. The STAR interview technique is a good formula for answering these job interview questions.


If you were asked about something you disliked about a former manager, you might be tempted to say:

"My boss was never around when I needed an answer to a question. It was very frustrating. How did she expect me to get my job done if I couldn't get answers to my questions?"

That answer won't get you the job.

Interviewers are usually managers, so they will see things from your manager's point of view. They'll assume your manager was busy, needed you to work independently and you couldn't. This may not be what was happening, but since most interviewers are managers, they'll see things from that perspective.

Instead, try:

"When I started my last job, there was a lot to learn, but my manager was busy and out of the office a lot, so I couldn't always ask her questions when an issue came up. I spoke to her about the situation and suggested that we meet briefly once a week. Throughout the week I noted my questions and brought them to her at each meeting. There were a few issues that required my manager's attention right away; in those cases I went to her immediately.

This solution worked. It saved my manager time because it was an efficient way to get questions answered, and I knew I could always get answers to my questions in a reasonable time frame. My manager liked our meetings because she felt more in touch with what was going on at the office."

This answer shows that instead of being frustrated with a difficult situation, you will find a solution.

It's important to be honest at a job interview, but you don't have to tell everything. Don't talk about the most annoying person you ever worked with; that story won't show how you work on a daily basis.

Talk about real situations that you solved.

Don't pretend that nothing difficult ever happens at work. Just make sure you talk about your solutions to the problems, and you'll make a great impression at the job interview.

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