Answering questions that could alter your future Print
Youth Column
Thursday, Jul. 14, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

One of the most intimidating experiences you'll ever face is answering questions about yourself. Each time, you have to make a decision about how much to open up, how much to reveal.

In all cases, answering honestly is best. Share the truth, but realize you don't have to share all the details of your life. Some situations are more appropriate than others for sharing personal information.

If you're spending time in a group with friends of a friend, it's OK to be vague. In other situations, that may not be an option. Knowing how to talk about yourself comfortably before those conversations occur will help you avoid uncomfortable situations in the future.

In many cases, you know the questions because you ask them of others: Where do you go to school? What are your career plans? What do you think of current events?

Other times, the questions you face are unpredictable. The most extreme questions are asked during job interviews. You may not be asked these questions during interviews at this point in your work career; most employers hiring high school and college students just want to know if you're honest and dependable.

But once you have more experience, the questions get more difficult. Good interviewers ask fewer yes or no questions. To get the answers they seek, they ask questions designed to see how you think.

Recently on Quora, a question and answer website, people shared the toughest question they've ever been asked during job interviews.

The simplest example came from someone who was asked to list his three best and worst qualities. There was a catch though. He could only use one word for each answer and offer no additional explanation.

How would you answer? Positive attributes are easy to supply. Negatives are much more difficult to summarize into a single word, especially if you can't explain your response.

Other questions were bizarre. One interviewer asked a candidate what kind of tree he would be if he were a tree instead of a person.

Then there are questions that cut to who you are as a person. For example, on a scale from one to 10, how lucky, personally and professionally, has your life been so far?

To me, the interviewer is more interested about what your answer says about your personality than the answer itself.

Consider this. One person could give a rating of seven and say it's because of great support from family.

A different person could give the same reason, but give a rating of two.

What does that mean to the interviewer? Is the person with the high score content and the person with the low score a go-getter, or does the person scoring low have self-esteem issues that aren't present in someone more confident?

It takes answers to many probing questions to create a complete picture of the potential employee -- a complete picture of you.

Just because job interview questions can be extreme and unpredictable doesn't mean you're unprepared. Your answer to every question, regardless of who asks, is a reflection of who you are. If you stick to the honest truth, the person answering will be able to tell.

You might never be asked any of the questions I listed, but you will hear others. When you do, even if it's a question asked by a friend, think about how you would answer during an interview. Knowing how to give the best answer is a skill you learn only through practice.

For example, I would be a birch tree because its white bark stands out from more traditional trees. Also, it exists in areas that have seasons, meaning I would get to enjoy the hot summer and the cold winter.

From that explanation alone, you can infer a lot about me.

What would your answer say about you?

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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