Will This Interview Question Change Your Life?
What’s Your Answer?
Interviews are pretty nerve-wracking in their unpredictability as it is; you are never completely sure what your interviewer will ask. Nevertheless, you can prepare by having genuine and specific but succinct responses to the usual suspects (Think “Where do you see yourself in 1/5/10 years?” or “What do you consider to be your greatest weaknesses?). While these questions require self-reflection to answer honestly, at least you can go into an interview expecting them in some form. Your interviewer might ask for clarification, or you might even be dissatisfied with your answers, but at least the questions are common enough that you can always keep polishing your answers so that your next interview may be better than the last.
But what about a question that seems to come “out of nowhere” — where it seems as though the interview is trying to grill you to make you crack? Is the interviewer really asking the question just to see you squirm? And, if you are “unprepared,” can it have that powerful of an effect on your career?
So what is the “scandalous” question anyway? Here it is: “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?”
And, now that you know the question, why do employers want candidates to answer this question? According to research, employers sometimes worry that millennials have serious entitlement issues, sometimes believing that they are special and deserving of the best jobs and the highest accolades without any academic or professional evidence to support such beliefs (Stott: “This Interview Question Could Change your Career”). By prodding their potential employees for any entitlement issues in the screening process, employers hope to minimize some of the disgruntled attitudes — whether their feelings are justified or not (Stott). In other words, this question asks: Is this person self-centered or a team player? Is this person a narcissist? Or, does this person have empathy and emotional intelligence? Further, is this person likely to stick around—for the first couple months? For a full year? For the next several years?
Finally, now that you know the question, how do you answer it? What if you don’t know how to answer it?
The best way to formulate an answer to this question is to think about it now. (Stott) Even if you are not sure what you would answer—or you are, but, are afraid of coming across as entitled—consider it deeply. It is better to have an idea of how you might answer than to arrive at the interview totally stunned, unable to form words into a coherent sentence. That is not to say that you should prepare a canned response with no real thought or genuineness behind it; rather, simply turning the question over in your head for a while can help you truly understand what is being asked and where you stand on the issue. Do you think you deserve the best? Can you deliver the best?
To emphasize once more: be honest. As Stott says, your career may depend upon it—because when employers ask the question, they are not just asking it to create a fuller understanding of who you are as a person. They are asking because they want to know if your beliefs in your own abilities will help their company. In addition, they want to know if you will cause a toxic environment where people are overly distant and competitive with one another, where the young workers talk themselves up but produce nothing of value.
When you think about it – how will you answer?
Stott, Phil. “This Interview Question Could Change Your Career.” Vault Blogs. Vault.com Inc., 23 Oct. 2015. Web.