Unless you’re new to the job search game, you’ve probably been asked questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are your best qualities?” You give the answers you rehearsed in front of your mirror—complete with a pageant-winning smile, of course—and everyone moves on. First thing first, make sure to review these hardest interview questions. But if an interviewer really wants to see how you think on your feet, they might surprise you with a moral dilemma. No better way to meet the real you than to get a sense of your most basic priorities, right?
A popular anecdote making the rounds, reportedly from a real job application, goes something like this:
You’re driving down a dark road, during a wild storm. You drive past a bench, with three people huddled miserably on it, waiting for a bus in the raging weather:
- An older lady who looks like she’s in distress, and possibly needs medical help.
- An old friend of yours who once saved your life.
- The man (or woman) of your dreams. Seriously, love at first sight material.
Your tiny car has room for just one passenger (non-negotiable). So… which one do you invite into the car?
If you choose the woman in distress, you’re a hero; if you leave her behind, you could be seen as a first-class heel. Or do you choose your old friend? You owe him a major favor, and you have a personal interest in this guy’s well-being. But then there’s your potential spouse, your possible future.
What to do, what to do? You need to offer a well-reasoned response, but you have to do it fast.
The winning answer earned the candidate a job offer: I’d get out of the car, and give the keys to my friend. He could drive the sick lady to the hospital, and I’d wait for the bus with the person of my dreams.
Clever! So what can this teach us about moral dilemmas in job interviews? Well, for starters, I have yet to see an interview that’s really a life-or-death situation, so be creative! They’re testing your ability to think fast and solve problems. The very shrewd answer accomplishes two things:
- It shows flexible thinking. The candidate can read a number of different outcomes and find a solution that satisfies just about everyone involved.
- It’s memorable. Your job interview shouldn’t necessarily be an extension of your standup routine, but a bit of humor and smart thinking can make you stand out in a pack of similar candidates.
So when you’re preparing for your next interview, be ready for some unorthodox questions. Who knows, your answer could be the next one going viral as “The best job interview answer ever!”
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