What was your biggest temptation at your former job?

by Tiffany
(Piqua, Ohio, USA)

I was applying for a job at Sears, and one of the questions that the interviewer asked me was, "What was your biggest temptation at your former job?".

It may not sound like that odd of a question, but I had no idea how to answer it. If I said something small, it would make me sound like I was easily tempted to do wrong, but if I said something big it would make me sound like a criminal.

In the end I just said I couldn't really think of anything specific, but I had often been trusted to count money and had never been tempted to steal it. I figured they were probably asking that question to find out if I could be trusted or not.

I'm not really sure what a good answer would be, I never did get hired for the job. If I was in that situation again I would probably say my biggest temptation was lying, because often times we had customers that were hard to deal with, and if they specifically asked you if they were being a pain, it was hard not to just say, "oh, no, it's no trouble at all", when in actuality they were being kind of a pain.

It's probably best just think ahead of something you would say that way you don't have to try to think of it on the spot.

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Interview Question About Temptation
by: Lisa McGrimmon

That interview question is a bit tricky. Employers are trying to get a sense of your integrity with the question, "What was your biggest temptation at your former job?".

You're right, in that you need to give a real answer, but you don't want to mention something that would cause concern.

I'd suggest coming up with an answer that any reasonable person doing that type of job would be tempted to do - something that does not call your integrity into question, and something that would not have a negative impact on your ability to do a good job.

Here are a couple of examples:

I used to work at an employment resource center where clients brought in candy and treats for us all the time. It was their way of saying thank you to us for helping them find work.

If I was in a fairly casual, relaxed job interview, I might say that all of the candy in the office was my biggest temptation.

If the interview was more formal, an answer like that wouldn't be appropriate (it would be too light for the tone of the interview). In a more formal interview, I'd use something different. Here's an example:

"As a case manager, I worked from my own home office. I was able to set up my office any way I liked, and I was tempted to get call display for my business phone line.

I certainly wouldn't make a habit of avoiding calls from clients, but there were times when I would have preferred to review my notes about a situation and be 100% clear on every detail before discussing it with someone.

In the end, I didn't get call display because I found it was better for my clients, and more time efficient for me to deal with issues immediately as they arose. In order to be able to quickly review the details of any issues I was discussing, I kept very clear, easy to read notes for each client and had well organized filing systems for paper and electronic documents, which allowed me to access information quickly any time someone called about an issue that was not at the front of my mind."

This answer would not raise any red flags as it's not an unreasonable temptation (and it is a temptation in that line of work), it provides a reasonable reason for wanting the thing that is tempting, and it provides an alternative solution that resolved the issue and didn't interfere with doing the job well.

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