How To Overcome An Interviewer That Asks Bad Questions

How To Overcome An Interviewer That Asks Bad Questions

Not all interviewers are created equal. If you’re in the middle of an interview, the interviewer could ask a question that leaves you shaking your head or even feeling insulted. Before you go in for an interview, you should prepare yourself to be asked a bad question. The way in which you overcome the question could make all the difference.


Before you do anything else, take a breath. You don’t need to answer questions right away. While you don’t want to take a 10 minute break for silence, you are entitled to a quick pause. Use the time to take a sip of water or to breathe in deeply.

As you pause, think about the question. Is it really a bad question? And, if the question is bad, what makes it bad? If it’s just a bad question because it’s unusual, you should still answer it. But, if it’s a bad question because it borders on harassment or breaks a discrimination law, then you should decline to answer it.

Before your interview, you should familiarize yourself with some of the regulations. An interviewer cannot ask you questions that could result in discrimination. For instance, they can’t ask you questions about your religion or a disability.

Refer to Your Resume

If the interviewer asks you an unusual question, you may be able to refer to your resume for the answer. There’s also an added benefit to bringing your resume with you. If you’re starting to feel incompetent or unprepared, look at the accomplishment section of your resume.

Reading over your accomplishments could give you the extra boost you need to push through your interview. Even though the questions might be bad, you can still get through them. Just be sure not to pay more attention to your resume than you do to the interviewer.

Write Down Notes

Another technique you can use to deal with a bad question is to write down notes. If the interviewer asks a question that throws you off, write down the question. Ask them if you can take a minute to think about it, and write down notes while you think.

Sometimes, all it takes is a minute or two for you to gather your thoughts and come up with an answer. In fact, you may be able to answer the bad question in a way that gets you a job offer. You should always bring paper and a pen to your interview. Even if you don’t write anything down, you can use the notepad as something to focus on.

Ask a Question

Depending on the bad question, you may be able to respond with a question. For instance, the initial question may be unclear. Instead of saying, “I don’t know,” or thinking too hard, ask for clarification.

There’s nothing wrong with asking the interviewer for specifics or saying that you’d like them to elaborate further. If it is a truly bad question, clarification may be necessary. It’s better to ask a question than it is to give a bad or incorrect answer. As an added benefit, you buy yourself extra time in formulating an answer.

Think of the Motivation

Even if you don’t have the best interviewer, they are probably asking you a specific question for a reason. Before you give an answer, think about why they’re asking you the question. One common bad interview question is, “What type of animal are you?” Sure, it’s silly and unprofessional. But there’s a reason an interviewer might ask this.

The motivation behind such a question could be to find out more about your personality. In some cases, the company might be looking for an aggressive employee. Think back to the job listing and use your creativity to consider why the interviewer is asking you this question and what answer they want to hear.

Avoid Traps

If you have a good interviewer asking bad questions, they may be baiting you. The interviewer might want to find out if you’ll say something bad about a former employer or if you’re only interested in money. As you answer the question, consider whether or not they are trying to trap you.

The only way to avoid a trap is to know which red flags the interviewer may be looking for. Typically, employers want to avoid hiring people who are only in it for the money. They also avoid hiring candidates who are negative about former employers or coworkers. To the best of your ability, avoid setting off red flags. Answer all of the questions in a tactful, professional manner.

Have a Sense of Humor

When you answer bad interview questions, try to maintain your sense of humor. You might not be sure how to answer the question, so respond with a smile or laugh. You might chuckle and say, “That’s a good question! I need a minute to think on that.” The interviewer can then move on to the next question while you think of an answer.

If you don’t have a sense of humor, you risk coming across as anxious and nervous. By being humorous, you show the interviewer that you can handle anything with a smile. You also show that you’re confident in your own abilities. If you make a small joke or smile through the questions, you increase your chances of making a positive impression on the interviewer.

Take Action When Necessary

In the rare case that the interviewer asks an inappropriate question, don’t just accept it. First, you should refuse to answer the question. If you truly feel uncomfortable, walk out of the interview. Then, consider sending an email to the company’s HR department. They might be shocked to hear about the interviewer’s behavior.

By speaking up about your experience, you accomplish two things. First, you might get another chance at an interview. And secondly, you save someone else from dealing with the awkward situation. If the company doesn’t do anything about the bad interviewer, then you probably don’t want to work for them anyway.

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