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EP 1607 Some firms employ a “good cop bad cop” technique when interviewing someone.  How should you respond to the bad cop when they try to drill you?

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I'm Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter and you are watching you and/or listen to Job Search Radio.Job Search Radio is a podcast done in video format right release the show 6 days a week In order to help people with their job search. It is an opportunity to share thoughts, insights and opinions cultivated over 40+ years of work doing recruiting in a broad way. But if you would like me to help you one on one,This is my website, Check the tabs on the top and you will find information about the different forms of coaching that I do.While you are there, you can also visit my blog, which has thousands, yes, thousands Of different posts that I've done as podcasts, videos and articles about different elements of job hunting that are designed to help you find work more quickly. Really, coaching is the best way to work because I am quickly able to customize advice specifically for you, rather than grow broadly to the market in general.

Today's show deals with the situation that people run into pretty regularly. You are in a panel interview, You are in a 2 or 3 person interview and you are being asked pretty basic questions But then there is the bad cop that is in the room Who is turning the question into something pointed and accusatory. Let me give you an example.

Let's say you are asked the question, "What characteristics do you admire in others?" Nice question, isn't it? It's a pretty easy one. "I like people who are take charge, Who get things done, who are determined, who persevere." You can describe the want to very positive characteristics in your answer. But then, there is the bad cop.

The bad cop is the one who asks the question along the lines of, "So what flaws in your personality are keeping you from being the same woay Or doing the same thing?"

Boing! Right between the eyes.. It feels like a shot in the temple yhat is designed to take you out.

A question like that can be deflected pretty easily.

"I wouldn't describe them as flaws. I just haven't had the depth of experience that this person has had where they have celebrity for doing this." Or, "people see these qualities in me, but I really admire them and others. They are stronger added…" You can go through a whole litany of things. The bad cop is there to drive home the point.

There are 2 ways of responding and I tried to illustrate the 1st 1 in my sample answer. You do the calm answer looking directly at them. You do this comfortably if you are interviewing in an aggressive corporate culture. I will use the example of Wall Street because that is a stereotype that most people understand. There are sales and trading roles where you have to be an SOB. It is just part of the territory. You are operating under a lot of intense pressure and you are used to working with people and for people who are under a lot of intense pressure.

The way you deal with the SMB is by picking up the pace of your speech in talking very quickly and to the point. You very simply say, "I would consider a flaw in me. I just want to express it to the same degree that this person is able to.. I'm curious. Are you trying to suggest anything about the environment here that I need to be conscious of going in?" You turn the question back at them to explain the point. This is how you answer when you are interviewing in a "super aggressive environment."

The good cop bad cop is often used to cause you to reveal stuff that you are not prepared to talk to. It is a nice tactic for employers, particularly in leadership roles When they are interviewing someone and also for sales and marketing roles . . . More sales and marketing I would say, Where the nature the environment can be tough, demanding and they are trying to see if they can break you. Breaking you becomes the goal of the bad cop. They want you to reveal things about yourself that you're not prepared to talk about.

If that happens, just simply smile. Seriously, smile as you answer the question. "I wouldn't call the flaw. For many people, they see those qualities in me. This individual has in spades. They are so well known for it. I wouldn't say I am known for it like they are." Notice to what I'm saying is that I have those qualities, too. Frankly, from some of my trainings, I am aware that "if you spot it you've got it." If you can see it in others. It is a quality that lives within yourself. You may not have it to the same degree that you can sense it in others. What you're saying is true, it is congruent and it is consistent.

Then, in the aggressive environments, you just turn the question back at them.


Jeff Atlman - Job Hunting Coach - Job Search CoachJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1600 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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