Nail Your Next Job Interview by Paying Attention to the Softball Questions

Last Updated Jun 13, 2010 10:08 PM EDT

Every job interview has some softball time, when you're asked about the books you read, your favorite movie, and what sorts of hobbies you enjoy. They're designed to put you at ease and find out a little about who you are as a person. But they're much deeper than that, and how you answer could have a significant effect on whether you get hired.

Psychology Today discusses not-so-harmless interview questions which can tell the interviewer a lot about you, and suggest whether you're a good fit for the job. For example, if when asked about a favorite movie, one person discussed how It's a Wonderful Life helped him cope with his father's job loss. Another person used the question as a way to discuss how her family interacts with film:

"She did a character study of each sibling and her parents, including her extraverted father who talked through the movie and had to be regularly silenced by the group and her bonding with her equally introverted mother. She demonstrated insight into human nature and a recognition of the value of family."
You don't have to tell an elaborate story for these kinds of questions, but they're opportunities to paint a picture of yourself that might not be revealed through the usual interview questions. Consider these questions as you prepare for your next interview:
  • Do you read or watch anything related to your career field?
  • Even if you don't read books, do you read magazines, journals, or blogs which are related to your career?
  • Avoid controversial or odd answers. These are softballs -- don't fumble. (I believe I've mixed sports metaphors.)
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