in Careers Advice, Interviews

Inappropriate interview question – are you the type of person to cry if someone shouts at you?

We do see some gems of interview questions coming our way, and this one is our favourite at the moment. Are you the type of person to cry if someone shouts at you? What a question, and perhaps the person asking it was really testing the interviewee to see how they would respond.

Would the interviewee burst into tears, get defensive, get cross, run out of the room, admit they were the type of person to cry, or something else? Ok, that perhaps was the nice way of looking at the interview question, because in reality this is an absolute shocker. What on earth possessed the interviewer to ask a question like that?

The interviewee would immediately wonder whether the reason this question was being asked was because the interviewer knows full well he is going to be shouting a lot at the interviewee.
You would logically think whether or not you wanted to work for an employer who thought it was okay to check whether you minded being shouted at. You would also wonder whether the interviewer was slightly deranged and thought it was perfectly acceptable to shout at his employees, and therefore considered his question to be perfectly reasonable.

So how (as the interviewee) should you deal with this question?

Firstly I would strongly recommend ending the interview and thanking the interviewer for their time. This is such an inappropriate question on a number of levels that it’s not a good sign of a long lasting future working relationship!

However, this may be an interview with a firm where you really want to work, for all kinds of reason, or you are desperate for a job and this is the only interview you’ve had in years. In these cases practicalities may need to take the place of what is fair or right, and instead you need a strategy for dealing with the question.

Our advice would be (assuming you haven’t walked out of the interview in disgust), to look surprised and say no you cannot recall ever crying over something that happened at work, because you are very good at keeping work issues in context, but similarly you haven’t ever known anybody to feel the need to shout at you in the workplace, as your work has always been exemplary, completed on time and to the satisfaction of your employers. You could add that shouting at colleagues is never something you have experienced before and you would wonder if the person shouting required medical assistance. You could perhaps follow this up by asking the interviewer if they have ever shouted at their employees and see what they say…

Failing this, you could stand up, tip the desk over, flip the bin on top of the interviewer’s head, stamp on his laptop and kick a couple of windows in. You could then grab him by the collar and ask him if he has ever cried during an interview before. Naturally I should include a disclaimer to say that we have written this last paragraph in jest..

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk