exactly what to say in 10 tricky job interview conversations

Job hunting is fraught with tricky conversations that you might need to have throughout the process – from what to say if you botched your answer to an interview question to how to ask if a long hiring process will ever end. Especially given the power dynamics in job interviews, it can be hard to know exactly how to navigate these conversations.

At New York Magazine today, I walk you through 10 of the trickiest conversations you might need to have in an interview  and what to say in each one. You can read it here.

{ 91 comments… read them below }

  1. Greg M.*

    my future self that will be job hunting next year thanks you for this article that I will review then. :P

  2. Free Meerkats*

    This sentence is probably the most important one in the whole article, “Important: After you say one of these, stop talking.” This applies not only to negotiating salary, but to the entire interview process. Answer the question they are asking, then shut up.

    Last hiring round we had one guy who, when asked at the beginning of a 45 minute interview to “Tell us a bit about yourself.”, talked for 30 minutes, nonstop. We couldn’t. get. him. to. stop. He didn’t move on.

    1. earl grey aficionado*

      So true! I had to testify in court once and the lawyer coached me to only answer questions that are actually being asked, not ones question I *think* are being asked. That advice has served me well in surprising ways, including in interviews! (You can take it too far, of course–you don’t want to seem cagey–but my nervous response is oversharing, so it’s been helpful for me.)

      1. Overeducated*

        This is something I say to members of my family regularly, so it’s useful in personal life too! I’ll ask “what do you think about X,” they’ll guess that my opinion is Y and answer “I guess Y if it’s important to you,” and I’ll say “no really, I want to know what YOU think about X, can you answer the question I asked instead of assuming I’m trying to get at something underlying?”

        1. mrs_helm*

          Yesss! Like, when I am trying to factor your opinion into my decision…I need you to give me YOUR opinion.

    2. Amadeo*

      Heh, we recently had this too. Hiring for two positions and had one person in who also seemed to have issues with just not talking and in the process never quite answered our questions.

    3. nep*

      Yes — answer succinctly then stop. Any further information needed, they’ll ask for it. Have a strong close for each answer to avoid just trailing off.
      All these points make for great advice, Alison. Thanks.

  3. Sparkles*

    UGH! If only this was posted yesterday! I went on an interview this morning!

    1. MerciMe*

      Ha, I hate when my brain keeps revising my answers. The interview is already done, so what am I supposed to do with this now, brain?! (Yes, I know, practice makes precision, but still!)

      I hope the interview went well for you!

  4. Erin*

    For #5 on weird/unethical/borderline illegal questions: I would definitely take these on a case by case basis.

    I had a past employer ask me on an interview if I had a boyfriend or girlfriend, and not in the small talk way, but like as one of the official questions. It threw me off a little but I said I had a boyfriend, he asked what he did, I said computers (or something relating to that), and he said, “Great! Maybe we can hire him to fix up our computers.” After I got hired, they did hire him on occasion when we had problems come up since the company had no IT person.

    So I’d say unless it’s something truly outrageous don’t let it be a huge red flag. Pay attention to tone and the overall vibe you get from the person and let that dictate how you proceed.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Reminds me of the story from a woman who was asked what her favorite color was, and went off on a rant about racism.

      Even if the question was racist (it wasn’t, obvs) that’s not how you handle it.

    2. Kathleen_A*

      I don’t know, Erin – I’m glad it worked out for you, but that’s…kind of odd. I mean, if he was looking for a good computer guy, why not just ask if you happen to know a good computer guy? What’s the whole boyfriend angle got to do with anything?

      1. nep*

        Indeed — great point. What an odd way to get at that. (Almost sounds as if he knew already and had in mind to try to get the boyfriend in for IT.)

      2. JamieS*

        He probably wasn’t asking the question hoping by some random miracle her SO worked on computers. Just one of those things that work out well. Agreed it was a weird exchange but I’m guessing he’s just bad at making small talk. That or if Erin had said she had a girlfriend the interview would’ve taken a wrong turn.

    3. soon 2 be former fed*

      Suppose you said you had a girlfriend? Could have been looking to exclude gay people. Or something. I’ve never been asked such a question n 40 years of professional work. Odd.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      Sorry late to this, but my first thought is he wanted to date you himself.
      Every time I’ve been asked that, usually by random strangers, that was the reason. :p

  5. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I had four hours of interviews on April 20th and have two more on Thursday. I’m currently recovering from a concussion, chipped tooth, and split lip. They are thankfully video/phone interviews. I had my tooth fixed yesterday so I’m not lisping quite as bad (front tooth, OF COURSE) but I am a little concerned about the obvious state of my lip and the potential for some of the lingering confusion.

    1. Erin*

      I’d bring that up right away and head it off matter of factly. “Before we dive in I just wanted to mention, you might notice my lip is a little banged up. I had a little accident (or whatever quick explanation you feel comfortable giving) but am completely fine and am getting it taken care of. Just wanted to mention that so you didn’t worry about it!”

    2. Free Meerkats*

      Be upfront at the beginning of the interview. As in, “Sorry for the split lip, I took a fall and am healing from it and a concussion.”

      1. The Original K.*

        I agree with this. A few years ago I hurt my foot while I was job-searching and it was bandaged in a really weird, awkward-looking way, and I just apologized for its appearance and kept it moving. It looked worse than it was, which I also acknowledged.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          Yeah, I once interviewed for a field work position from a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident. Nice slacks, blazer, tie, and a sheepskin slipper on one foot. :-)

          Got the offer, too.

    3. Ali G*

      I find it’s best to just be upfront. I was on medication for a bit that made my eyes swell and water. It looked like I’d been punched in the face or I just had a really big ugly cry. On a particularly bad day I had to interview a candidate for a job. I just introduced myself and said, I hope my eye issue isn’t too distracting for you – I am on a new medication that is causing some complications for me. You could even be lighthearted about it – I guess I look a little different than the last time we met! Yeah – well my llama wrestling didn’t go too well this week, but don’t worry nothing is permanent and I am on the mend. Then if you flub any answers blame it on the concussion :)
      good luck!

      1. Cute Li'l UFO*

        Thanks, everyone. Right now I still look like I went a little wild with lip fillers. I was most concerned about the concussion and if it was really something to mention, but now that I think about it I would rather say something than otherwise.

        Photos from initially after the impact looked like I got mugged. It was the cherry on top of the whole stress cake that I’ve been consuming this month.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          A couple of months ago, I passed out flat on my face, and I do mean *flat* on my *face*. (It was merely a minor stomach bug but here’s the lesson, folks: Even throwing up just One Time can make you dehydrated.) It could have been very bad, but it was instead only moderately bad because I didn’t break my glasses, my nose or my teeth. But I felt pretty horrible for a few days, and I looked even worse – like an ad for a domestic violence hotline. Thank goodness I didn’t have any job interviews! So you hang in there, UFO!

  6. The Original K.*

    I am in the thick of interviewing (series of second round interviews next week!) so this is very welcome! I’ve had a few experiences where I didn’t think I’d performed well in interviews and then gotten the job. You never know. I DEFINITELY agree with not bluffing your way through a question you don’t know the answer to. I’ve seen that on the hiring side and it’s not pretty. When I’ve been faced with that, I’ve said something like “I’m actually not sure, but here’s how I’d go about figuring it out,” which has gone over well.

    Re: salary negotiation, how would you factor in benefits? Would you think poorly of a candidate who asked for more after she reviewed the benefits and realize the health care costs would be high, for example? (I haven’t had to do this; it’s purely a curiosity question.)

    1. Jadelyn*

      I can’t speak for Alison, but I wouldn’t find it weird at all. It’s part of the whole package, after all, and when you’re negotiating comp you really should be taking all that into account.

    2. DivineMissL*

      I’ve had this happen. I interviewed for a job in a similar situation but it had fewer benefits (1/3 fewer sick days, starting over again at 10 days vacation when I currently am up to 20, health plan was similar but had higher co-pays, etc.). I calculated the additional family healthcare costs, and weighed it with less flexibility/paid time off against the higher salary, and determined I wasn’t any better off. However, it’s easy for me to say that when I already had a job; if I had been unemployed, I would have had to think harder about it.

    3. DDJ*

      I wouldn’t. I actually had a candidate who accepted a job that had a salary slightly lower than what they were looking for, but after they got the breakdown of the full benefits package, they were happy to accept. I think it can go both ways, for sure. There’s a lot that goes into “total compensation,” things like vacation, hours of work (after reading an answer (or maybe it was a comment) on AAM recently, I’d certainly be asking if the week is a 37.5 or 40 or 42), flex time, vacation days, sick time, benefits, WFH, employer-matched pension contributions, stock options…and employers (good employers) understand that.

      1. DDJ*

        Sorry, I don’t think my answer is all that clear. I wouldn’t think poorly of a candidate who did that, was what I meant.

    4. Flying Fish*

      I definitely ask about benefits/schedule when salary comes up. I took my current job for many thousand less than my other offer because of a 4 day week versus a 5 day week and a significant difference in insurance cost. It came out to more take home pay for a day of work in the end, and I’d rather have the time than the extra money.

  7. Magenta Sky*

    “I’ve had a few experiences where I didn’t think I’d performed well in interviews and then gotten the job.”

    Sometimes, you don’t have to be the perfect candidate, only better than the rest, who may not be that good. Or, like the joke goes, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun *you*.”

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Yeah, and in these cases it would actually be kind of weird to under-cut yourself by following up after an interview with “sorry I did such a bad job on this interview, I was totally OOC” if the interviewer thought you were good enough to move forward. So you have to make sure it’s pretty bad before this is likely to be a good play.

  8. Sled Dog Mama*

    The thing about stopping talking with salary negotiation is so true. My last salary negotiation went
    Recruiter: “We’d like to offer you $Y.”
    Me: “Well the position was advertised as pay in line with Professional Organization salary survey. So I was thinking closer to $X”

    Next day
    Recruiter: “Good news we can do $X”

    1. Exhausted Trope*

      Gosh, I wish that had happened to me. I’ve interviewed twice for a great position and asked for more money and a title change. Hiring manager just told me today that the company won’t budge on salary even though it’s non-benefitted part time and the job title is no where near in line with the scope of duties.

  9. prupugad*

    Fantastic post! I’ve always wondered about how best to answer “your biggest weakness” question. I know it’s terrible to try to frame a strength as a weakness, but what are some good responses to this question versus a not so obvious “oh, no, never say that” response?

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      I have a couple that are related and I will choose one depending on how I’m feeling:

      “I can be really focused on a specific project and can get kind of absent minded, so I am extremely diligent about writing myself notes, keeping tracking documents, and categorizing every email that comes in. The habit of writing everything down keep me organized even when I’m deep into something.”

      “I get so excited to work on the special projects that sometimes the more mundane things that need to happen every day or are really boring (like filing), get left behind. So I’ve started doing those things first. I get the boring stuff out of the way and can throw myself into my project without guilt.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Oh, I like the reserved one! One of the improvement suggestions I’ve gotten was to be more assertive in participating in group discussions but I never thought about framing it that way, as a weakness and here’s how I dealt with it.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I interviewed with a company whose glassdoor was so toxic it could have been declared a superfund site (tbh I might not have interviewed there if I’d looked before I scheduled). I agonized over how to bring it up in the phone interview, and it turned out all I had to say was “I looked at your Glassdoor–” and the interviewer was like, “I know. It’s horrible,” and went on to explain how he tried to insulate his team from those problems and why he had hope that they would improve soon.

      I ended up not going further with them because in addition to being an acknowledged totally toxic company the pay was extremely low, but I appreciated the hiring manager’s candor.

    3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      There are some great posts about that awful question here:




      I wish someone had given me some of this advice earlier in my working life. That question was always the kiss of death for me. I never understood what they wanted me to say! That I can’t resist a cute animal? And I was terrified of saying the wrong thing, which meant I froze every time.

    4. peachie*

      I think this is a bad question to ask, but if I have to answer it, I just mentally reframe it as, “What doesn’t come naturally to you?”

    5. Anon For This*

      You can pick a weakness that emphasizes that you’re a good fit for the job. For example, if it’s a very collaborative office, say you don’t work as well alone. But of course pick something that’s true and that you really think emphasizes the fit.

    6. Violet*

      This doesn’t happen often, but I always like when candidates offer weaknesses that are genuine and show me why they are a good fit for the job.

      For instance, I had a candidate tell me that she gets nervous speaking in front of groups of people she doesn’t know – and the job was a laboratory position involving working independently or with just a close coworker or two. Likewise, I’ve had a candidate say that they were not a morning person and didn’t like working in the mornings – but the position was for a second shift, so it didn’t start until the afternoon.

      My advice is to be very honest with yourself about your weaknesses and seek out jobs that make sense based on those weaknesses.

    7. Lindsay J*

      I generally go with an honest one. “I tend to be pretty direct. Not rude, of course. But I don’t always remember to engage in pleasantries in emails. If I see a problem or have a problem I don’t hesitate to call attention to it. Things like that. And I’ve found that I really don’t fit into some environments because of that. In turn, I’m also not great at picking up subtext. If my boss or a coworker wants me to change the way I do things, I operate better when they come out and ask outright rather than hinting or suggesting or just hoping I catch on.”

      However, my entire industry as a whole is like that, for the most part, so it’s not a weakness in most environments I would be interviewing in. (Unfortunately the industry does harbor a lot of yellers and beraters etc.)

      And also, it’s something that is such a core part of who I am that if it would be an issue for the interviewer, it probably will not be the right environment for me. When I worked in a medical office, my boss was like that and I always felt that I was falling short of their expectations because I was never exactly sure what their expectations were and it was frustrating. Similarly, at my first job after I moved from a different part of the country I couldn’t figure out why people perceived me as unfriendly and it took me a long time to realize that it was the way I spoke and interacted in general.

  10. Gregor*

    I never thought was effective to try to ‘double dip’ by trying to clarify an answer to an interview question(s) you thought you flubbed. Do most hiring managers take the thought ‘you only get one bite of the apple and no more’? I.e. first impressions matter the most and anything else after looks like you’re overcompensating. I guess I never thought about trying to re-answer flubbed questions in thank-you notes, may be I’ll test it out in the future.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Sidenote: “one bite out of the apple” is one of those phrases that I feel like I never heard, and has come up like four times in the last week. I always wonder what on earth it refers to – bobbing for apples, or something? Why can’t you keep eating this mysterious apple?? (Yeah I might need to take this to the open thread)

      1. Free Meerkats*

        It’s mainly used in the legal field and was originally “One bite at the cherry.” It pretty much means you have one shot at something.

  11. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Absolutely excellent stuff! I have saved the article for future interviews, and will almost definitely get the book.

  12. Still Hoping*

    Tip #1 is good advice, and I did this in my more-than-third interview for a career position that I very much want. The last interviewer told me that I would be contacted within a short, specific timeframe.

    Then a Big Event happened, so I understood the organization likely could not make hiring decisions in that time frame. Now it’s been three weeks since the interview. I was told by a person who I trust that this organization has a “candidates cannot follow up” policy (I wasn’t told this during the interviews). I didn’t think to ask during the interview whether any follow-up contact (beyond the thank you note) was permitted.

    Allison’s explanation of “employer time vs. employee time” was very helpful; I’m trying to keep it centered in my mind.

    1. Specialk9*

      That’s a dumb BS rule if it’s true. Are you sure it’s true? That just seems so counterproductive, especially since following up after weeks of silence is normal, and a way to demonstrate that you actually care about this particular position and aren’t just gunning for any position that sorta fits.

  13. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

    No. 5 hits really close home. A guy at Old Job was asked why he chose to become a part time college student, since he was already too old to get internships or entry-level jobs. And my interviewer asked me if my “real” reason to be in Engineering was to get a husband.
    It’s not really a surprise we don’t work there anymore.

    1. L Dub*

      Did he ask you that in the interview?? Or was he just a co-worker? What did you say?

      dfjskfjdkslfjdkslajdsakl. Wow.

    2. Specialk9*

      Blink blink. Getting an engineering degree would be a terribly difficult and expensive way to get dick. So his assumption is not only offensive on its face, but it assumes women are deeply irrational decisionmakers.

  14. Green Goose*

    I liked the wording of the seemingly endless interview process. I’ve had that happen in the past but I felt like I had to be agreeable about everything so I didn’t push it when I had passed the final interview only to be told there was another step, it was an emotional rollercoaster. My then-manager even offered me the position (after multiple rounds of a process that I had been led to believe would only two interviews initially) and then ended the call with a “but you still have one final interview with the CEO” I almost withdrew at that point because it was starting to feel a bit sadistic.

    1. The Original K.*

      My friend has had five interviews at a place, in some cases with several different people on the same day. He’s like, “I’ve met with everyone except the janitorial staff at this point, and that’s probably only because they’re subcontracted out. If they need to have this many interviews to be sure about me, I’m tempted to tell them to hire someone else.”

  15. Student*

    On #5, dealing with questions on inappropriate topics like religion and children – I appreciate AAM’s advice, but I don’t really think it goes far enough.

    You can give a “friendly” (read – not openly adversarial) answer to these questions without actually answering the question as given or trying to guess their intent. Pretend you are a politician, and answer something vaguely on-topic that you’d rather talk about instead of the direct question. Tell an anecdote instead of answering the question. Turn the question back on the interviewer, to see if they just want to talk about themselves and their own interests.

    And, frankly, lie. Lying should be a valid option for these kinds of questions. Lies by omission, lies by giving an impression counter to the truth without outright lying, and just plain old lying. Most of these legally protected issues are much harder to fire you for than to avoid hiring you over. If they are trying to discriminate against you, they are already playing dirty – so lying to get past their barriers is evening the odds. If they figure it out later, then play it off as a miscommunication or misunderstanding on their end.

    The main downside to lying on legally protected issues is that you may end up working for a person who holds you back at work over your religion/family/etc., so it’s a tactic I recommend more for hiring committees than direct bosses. I’m not going to let the bigotry of potential co-workers torpedo my job search. I am at the point in my life where I don’t want to work for a boss who’s going to discriminate against me – but if I was earlier in my career or having trouble getting a job, I might be more willing to lie to a boss to get past this kind of thing too.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Oh, that’s a classic! Don’t answer the question you were asked–answer the question you want to answer. It works in a lot of situations: awkward chitchat with relatives you haven’t seen in a while, first dates after a particularly horrific breakup, getting stopped by the assistant principal while skipping class, etc. With a sufficiently confident, breezy air, it’s surprisingly effective.

    2. Specialk9*

      Yeah I agree that it didn’t feel like all of the answer we needed there. And I’m a super honest person, but this is one of those times I feel like lying, or deceiving with the truth, is ok.

    3. Drama Llama*

      I don’t know if blatant lying is a good way to get around these unprofessional questions. The interviewer is a potential future colleague/manager. If you lie and say you don’t have children, for example, you’re going to look really weird if you mention your daughter’s soccer game on Saturday a couple of weeks into your new job. Frankly, it will look bizarre.

      I’m a working mum and if my employer is going to discriminate against me for having kids, I actually want to be screened out of the process. It will save me so much time and headache. Same goes for any other discrimination factors.

  16. Moonbeam Malone*

    #7 – Tests are a bit of a contentious subject in the field I’m trying to worm my way into. They’re pretty normal and unfortunately I don’t think even the most reasonable one could be done in only a few hours. (I’ve only gotten one test and it was a few full days worth of work for me? Granted, I was inexperienced and slow but it was still definitely on the long side for a test.)

    1. Specialk9*

      She wasn’t talking about tests, she’s talking about people who were conned into doing freelance work thinking there was a job involved. So for instance developing and flying out to give a custom training session, or writing a significant project that they then use as their own. We’ve had a number of letters like that, unfortunately. There are some unscrupulous employees out there.

      1. Moonbeam Malone*

        That was the overall thrust, but she also certainly seemed to me to be speaking to what’s fair to expect from tests and mock assignments: “it’s not cool for an employer to ask you to do something that will require a significant amount of your time (more than an hour or two) .” Sorry if I was misunderstanding her point there but it seemed she was totally talking about tests in general as well, which is why I felt it was relevant to bring up the fact there are fields where it is still normal for unpaid tests to take longer than a few hours. (And to clarify, “tests” in my field mean test assignments. There are sadly a few horror stories of employers using unhired applicants’ work. There are a few issues with how this fits into the hiring process and I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about it, myself.)

  17. Someone else*

    #4 is such a good one, but I think it brings to mind an even more important thing is to make sure you get to the point where #4 is even possible. I know going into my current job, I was miserable in the last because it wasn’t as advertised and I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up in that situation again. So I made sure that when I interviewed with different people there were a few key questions I asked them all, just to see if I got totally different answers, so I’d then have the opportunity to clarify that with the hiring manager. It was crucial, because I did get three different answers from three different people.

  18. Hiring Mgr*

    Both as a hirer and a candidate, I always try to make interviews casual conversations rather than question and answer. I think you see a more natural side of someone and both of you will say more when you’re just talking like two people.

    Also, maybe because my industry (tech) can be more casual, but it’s pretty common to chat about whether you’re married, kids, etc.. Not in a formal questioning way, but just as part of getting to know someone

    1. anathema*

      I’m asking you re-think your chat about married, kids, etc. until after you’ve hired someone. You (and many other people) don’t have any ill intent, but we also see big diversity gaps in hiring in tech. Even if you’re not going to use the info in the hiring decision, your candidate may think you did.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I hear you on that..I usually wouldn’t mention it first, my point was that it’s not always such a taboo topic since the candiate themselves will often bring it up

        1. Legal Beagle*

          I would find it very odd for a candidate to bring up their marital/parental status with a hiring manager, even as casual chitchat. Talk about the weather if you’re so desperate for conversation. Maybe you could redirect instead of engaging further, because it does potentially give the wrong impression. (Like if the candidate now thinks that being a married father gave him a leg up, even though it actually didn’t.) The hiring process is a time when parties on both sides should avoid even the hint of overstepping formal professional – and legal – boundaries.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I guess that was my point in a roundabout way–personally I prefer a less formal interview/hiring process (both as hiring mgr and candidate). If done intelligently, I think there’s plenty of room for that without overstepping boundaries

            1. Specialk9*

              And we’re telling you it’s really not a good idea. Like really. Like really really.

          2. DragoCucina*

            Happens all the time with candidates. I ask about familiarity with MS Office suite and at the end of the answer I know marital status, kids, where they go to church, and more. It’s not I used Access to create a database for a community and organization. It’s I used Access to catalog my church’s music collection (with name of church), two son’s and daughter’s soccer teams training schedules, etc.

            Candidates over share.

  19. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

    For #2 – before just giving up, I would suggest asking for a rephrase, or for more specifics of what the interviewer is looking for. I do not react well to “That’s never happened to me before” without a little effort from the candidate to come up with something. This is partly because some of my questions are so basic (“tell me about a time you’ve involved other people to solve a problem.” really? you’ve never asked someone for help before?) and partly because I want critical thinkers who don’t give up on the first roadblock they come across.

  20. Ray Gillette*

    #5 – In one of my first interviews after I graduated college (from a real university that has an 86/100 ranking in US News and World Report), I was told that I had wasted my time and my degree was the equivalent of a “mail order degree.” There wasn’t a question. It was just a lecture about how useless my degree was.

    1. Anon For This*

      I’ve gotten that too! It was about my LIS degree (revealing that because I know a lot of librarians read this site). And it was at a major temp company. I was looking for temp work to tide me over while I job hunted in my field. I went in for an interview and the interviewer laughed and said, “I didn’t know you could get a degree in that. I don’t know how we’d place someone who chose to get a master’s degree in libraries,” implying that it was bad judgment. I landed a good job shortly after and everything was fine. But wow. A master’s from a reputable university plus lots of tech skills and to them, it disqualified me from doing clerical work.

      1. Specialk9*

        On the plus side, you didn’t have to work for that jackhole! Bc seriously, what a pissant.

  21. anathema*

    Re salary – I have to quibble with using the word “hoping”. It’s weak in a way that puts the person in the lower negotiating position. I would advise using a stronger verb – I was looking for, expecting, etc.

  22. T3k*

    Ugh, the salary one I’m dreading. I’m due for the second (actual part) of an interview. In the first part, I just did a quick test and answered some questions via email, one of which was asking salary. At the time I gave a number but after more research I realized I’d either have to rent in a not-so-pleasant area or sell off my car so I wouldn’t have car payments to afford living there. So, hoping I can navigate this part well if they ask.

    1. Specialk9*

      Think twice about being the first to mention a salary. Let them tell you their number.

  23. Triple Anon*

    I’ve been asked about religion in an interview. The questions were really in-depth – “Do you consider yourself a Christian?”, “Do you believe in God?”, “Do you go to church?”, “How often? Which church? Why not every Sunday?”, and beyond. When I said I don’t regularly attend church, there was a lot of probing for more information and implied insults to my intelligence. I’m glad I didn’t get the job.

    As for the bigger picture, I think people sometimes mean well when they ask these kinds of questions. Sometimes they are just making small talk. But we all have more biases than we’re aware of so it’s best to just steer clear. “Why do you ask?” is a good response.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      So not okay, unless you were interviewing at a church! For a regular (secular) job, I would have had to end the interview after the second question (indicating that it wasn’t going to stop). It would clearly be a bad cultural fit for me.

    2. HermioneMe*

      I did get asked all those questions! But it was at a Church. Even though I didn’t attend this Church and didn’t attend every Sunday, I still got the job. And I’m loving it. One of the few places you can actually hug someone or tell them you love them and it’s NOT sexual harassment! And no office politics – everyone is open and honest. Every is appreciated – and told that often! I love my job!

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