The person interviewing you has strong political beliefs, but you know it’s a trap, right?
You can feel it. These are tense political times following the 2016 presidential election, and just about everyone has passionate beliefs regarding the future of the United States—including your interviewer.
Typically, professionals who conduct interviews have been at the company for a while, so they feel comfortable in the poorly lit conference room where you are being interviewed. They have a favorite chair they wheel across the floor, and plop down in it holding a coffee mug shaped like Darth Vader’s helmet. They sigh, and take a sip of coffee while holding up your resume like a doctor examining an x-ray.
You’ve thoroughly researched the company. You’re ready to discuss how your skills sets perfectly fit the position’s responsibilities. You’re ready for the first question.
Interviewer: “So, what do you think about this whole Trump thing?”
Stay on target by following these 5 strategies for pivoting a conversation:
Acknowledge the question
Offer a quick response that confirms what is happening. Repeat some of the exact same words posited in the question. “This whole Trump thing certainly has many people wondering about the future.” Now the interviewer knows you are engaged and not intimidated by his line of questioning.
Offer a compelling but general observation
Avoid specific details regarding your personal opinions or feelings to subtly extract yourself from the uncomfortable subject matter. Begin your pivot with a general observation that dilutes your personal role in the conversation, giving yourself room to point the dialogue in a different direction. “I think people make poor decisions when they are emotional. It just goes to show you how important it is to think situations through.”
Link the big picture to your professional life
Deftly follow up your own general observation by refocusing the conversation on you and your goals for the interview. “As you can see from my resume, I’ve been in many situations where success hinged on my ability to think through challenging situations. In fact, my problem solving capabilities represent one of my most relevant skills sets.”
Correlate your professional life and goals
Now that you have steered the conversation to where it belongs, contextualize it further by weaving in your career objectives and how they align with this particular job. “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to invest my skills and talents in a position that also offers a supportive environment where I can grow professionally.”
Demonstrate how your goals will advance the company’s vision
Close your conversation pivot with an open-ended value proposition the strongly encourages a follow-up question from the interviewer that leads back to how you can contribute to the company through this particular job. “There are many areas where I can improve efficiency and increase business with clients while advancing the company’s objectives.”
Interviewer: “How, exactly?”
When you begin your new job, make sure to bring your Luke Skywalker coffee mug.