How do you handle a difficult interview question?

How do you handle a difficult interview question? Listing Image

No matter the role, or your experience, interviews present challenging situations, where we can find ourselves flustered or challenged. Sadly, some don’t have the communications tools to manage these scenarios effectively, becoming a child or parent when they need to remain in adult mode. At Ambitions Travel Recruitment we help our candidates prepare for these scenarios.

American Psychiatrist Eric Berne created the PAC (parent, adult, child) model, which he said describes our three ego states. These ego states relate to how we react in various situations.

The Parent Ego

This ego state is filled with 'how to's, you should, do this and don't do that'. As children, our parents and those in authoritative positions used these words to help us to follow instructions quickly, usually in a manner to protect, but sometimes in a critical way i.e., 'don't touch the plug socket', 'put your clothes away', 'don't speak to me like that', 'well that was stupid, wasn't it?', 'why on earth did you do that?' etc.

Can you think a time when you’ve used the Parent Ego in an interview? What was the reaction? What was your reaction when somebody used the Parent Ego with you?

You may have responded to a competency question about managing a team with something like ‘I made it clear to them not to do it again’. This quite clearly indicates a manager with a Parent style Ego.

What’s wrong with this? It indicates poor management and communication skills as the direct response to the Parent Ego state is Child.

The Child Ego

As we get older (usually as teenagers, but as toddlers, too), we rebel against instructions. This can be exhibited by despair, whining, silence, shouting, anger, arguing, crying, sulking and using words like 'I don't care', 'don't know', 'I need', 'I want', 'I didn't', 'whatever'. When we slip into a child ego state, we trigger the parent ego.

You may inadvertently answer an interview question exhibiting the Child Ego. ‘What happened when you were asked to do the activity that you didn’t like?’ and you respond with ‘I didn’t find it fair that xxxx’.

The way to communicate effectively and avoid confrontation is said to lie within the Adult Ego at all times.

The Adult Ego

Is rational, and deals in facts, figures, data and information. They don't enmesh by using examples of previous behaviour that aren’t relevant to the discussion. They judge on the here and now. They avoid emotional language and they're assertive without being patronising, rude or abusive.

We recommend that you think about the three Ego states when preparing for an interview and being aware that you remain in adult mode at all times.


Find out more about Ambitions Travel Recruitment here >

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