Here are some of the most offensive questions job seekers are asked, and sample answers for each one:
Recruiter: How old are you?
You: I’m old enough to have the professional background that made you reach out to me. Let’s talk about the job description. What can I tell you about my qualifications?
Recruiter: Do you have kids?
You: Are you inquiring about my ability to work downtown, or what exactly? I can’t tell what you’re after.
Recruiter: Er, um…
Recruiter: What’s your greatest weakness?
You: I used to worry about my weaknesses until it dawned on me that weaknesses are all in our minds. I do everything my life and career require me to do. There are hundreds of things I don’t do well, but that’s why I try to avoid doing them. What about you?
Recruiter: What does your manager say about your performance?
You: (smiling) I still have my job! Let’s talk about the job opening.
Recruiter: What are your long-term career plans? Where do you see yourself in five years?
You: Is this a five-year contract we’re discussing? Oh, I didn’t think so. Let’s talk about my qualifications for the role, in that case.
Recruiter: There are a lot of talented people around. What makes you a top candidate?
You: I wouldn’t dream of suggesting I’m a top candidate for this job since I don’t know your culture or your management style. I might be the worst possible candidate for this job. I know I’m the top candidate for some hiring executive — and that’s who I’m looking for.
Recruiter: What’s the lowest salary you would accept?
You: That would be the same as the target salary number I gave you earlier. What’s the salary range for this job?
Recruiter: Why don’t you have a job right now?
You: I left my last job to focus full-time on my job search. What was it about my résumé that interested you?
Recruiter: Why do you want this job?
You: Who said I want the job? Your email asked me whether I had time for a phone call to discuss the job. That’s why I’m on this call. I haven’t said that I want the job. I want to learn more about the job. Please fill me in!
Recruiter: What benefits will you bring to the team?
You: You’ve seen my resume. You know the team, and I don’t. What do you think I’ll bring to the team?