As we near Election Day, in what many people believe is one of the most controversial elections in recent memory, political discussion is undoubtedly going to make it’s way into your workplace—causing some very heated political debates. But what do you do when it enters your job interview?
It’s common knowledge that you should probably not talk to new acquaintances about politics, religion, or sex. These topics, especially politics, can be very flammable. But what if a hiring manager begins to discuss their favorite candidate and asks you who you’re voting for?
In this scenario, it’s best to be prepared. Here are three routes you can take to keep yourself out of hot water.
Offer a Noncommittal Response
Maybe tell the interviewer that the entire discussion has so much controversy, you’ve chosen to stand on the sidelines and not get involved. This signals to the interviewer that you do not feel comfortable answering his/her question, and the conversation will most likely end it there. If not, you may want to consider a different employer.
Keep it Lighthearted
You can also take the route of humor and diplomacy. Some options include:
- “I plead the fifth.”
- “I’d back anyone in favor of world peace, but that’s probably not happening for a while.”
- ” I think if the candidates stop attacking each other, we’d all have a better understanding of their policies. Until then, I’m not entirely sure.”
Change the Conversation
Sometimes the best way to respond is to simply transition away from the topic. The less talk about politics, the better. You can even use it as an opportunity to showcase who you look up to.
- “This election has been a challenging one for so many reasons. But one issue that has stood out is the issue of leadership. Professionally, I’m always looking for leaders who do X and Y.”
- “This election is filled with so much polarity, which is the opposite of what I love about so many companies that emphasize team building and working together. How much does your company emphasize this?”
Try a Neutral Response
If your interviewer goes on about how much they like a certain candidate, you can give them neutral acknowledgement. This will steer the conversation back on track, and you’ll be able to discover more about the company’s management and leadership. Simple body language, like a couple of nods, would suffice. Alternatively, you can try some of these options:
- “I can see what you mean…”
- “I hadn’t pictured it that way…”
- “Hmm.. interesting…”
Your ideal strategy is to steer the conversation to business and the job interview at hand. If the interviewer seems determined to continue the political conversation, take this as an opportunity to evaluate their emotional intelligence. Are they ranting? Angry? Do they challenge you unnecessarily? All of these factors may give you an idea as to your compatibility with that workplace.
Your best approach is to remain professional, calm, and diplomatic. Pay attention to the reaction you get as you try to shift gears. This will tell you everything you need to know about whether the company is right for you.
Source: [Business Insider]
Image Source: [CBS News]
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