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How to Answer Sticky Interview Questions

        posted by , February 10, 2013

How far will you go to win?

Sticky questions are the toughest interview questions, hands down. They are tougher than difficult interview questions.

Sticky interview questions are designed to test your ethical balance. Businesses aren't always looking to hire saints. However, they want to avoid hiring people who cross ethical lines.

The Setup

Sticky questions are often set up with a few normal questions.

Q: What's your approach to office politics?
Q: Why are office politics important?
Q: Have you used divide and conquer tactics to win political battles?

The first two questions are normal behavioral questions. Businesses want to hire people who can handle office politics.

The third question is designed to see if you take things too far. Businesses avoid hiring candidates who are the source of political drama or who take politics too far.


How to Answer Sticky Questions

Sticky questions are looking for an ethical balance. If a question sets off ethical alarms in your head, it's probably a sticky question.

There's no formula for answering sticky questions. Go with your conscious and find ethical balance.

Your conscious might not exactly match that of your interviewers. Being a little vague isn't necessarily a bad idea.

Example Answers: Sticky Questions

Q: Have you used divide and conquer tactics to win political battles?

A: My goal is always to break down political barriers to get things done. When I see the divide and conquer tactic, I work to fix divisions before they shipwreck our efforts.

Q: If your boss crossed ethical boundaries, how would you handle the situation?

A: It depends how serious the situation was. Everyone has slightly different professional ethics. If the situation was serious I would voice my concerns to my boss or possibly to human resources.

Q: In your current role, how do you use entertainment to close deals? (question for a salesperson)

A: Entertainment such as meals can be important to closing. I've used this technique in the past on a regular basis. I know that there are laws about these techniques. I always check with the legal and financial policies of my company before entertaining clients.


This post is part of the ongoing series of articles called how to win your next job.


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