How to Avoid Being Fleeced at Interviews

Sometimes a sleazy interviewer might try to fleece you by asking you to solve a problem—one of his. To make matters worst, there might not even be real job there. The reason for inviting you to interview in the first place is to pump your brain for information.

You’ll know you’re being fleeced when an interviewer asks you to solve a specific problem. The question might be presented like this: “How world you solve this problem?” Or “How would you handle this situation?” Believe it or not, I’ve had clients who reported being asked to solve problems as homework and to submit their answers in writing.

You can avoid being fleeced at interviews by not taking the bait. Instead, demur by pushing back with two points. The first is to say, with a smile and wink of an eye, “if you give me the job I’ll solve the problem.” When your interviewer comes back at you, say, “let’s face it, handling such problems is the way I make a living.” Then give examples about how you solved a problem or handled a situation similar to the one they asked you to solve for free.

You’ll handle the answer successfully by following the SIR format. The S stands for the situation you faced. Explain it. The I is your input—steps you took to solve the problem. Talk about how you did it. And the R is the result of your effort. Here, you explain the benefit. Did you create a new product, save money, or score a huge sale? Then tell it like it is. This SIR format can be used at any interview when you describe your achievements.

Of course, it’s okay to answer how you’d handle a general problem like a dispute among your employees. But when it comes to being asked to solve a specific problem and you suspect you’re being taken advantage of, avoid being fleeced at interviews.

Learn more about how to answer tough interview questions by ordering my book, Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach. 

Copyright ©2015 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.