Q: I went for an interview last week. They asked me who I’d be voting for in the presidential election. I told him Michael D was my choice and then they asked me why. I ended up in a political debate – and, to be honest, I’m not even that interested in politics. Any advice on how I should have handled it? (RC, email)
Listen to Liam Horan, talking with Aidan Crowley on CRC-fm, as he gives his opinion on how RC should have handled this improbable scenario.
A: While our concern in this column is never with the company, and always with the candidate, it would be remiss of us not to mention that that question should never have been asked, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
Voting intentions are intensely personal affairs, never more so in the modern world where 1+1 can be made to equal 25 with far too much alacrity and far too little concern for basic mathematics. “So you voted for him/her, so therefore you are [insert whichever particular cosy prejudices attach to that candidate”].
Two weeks ago, a previously dormant presidential campaign had just exploded into life. It was no time for that company to be investigating your voting intentions.
Anyway, your first error was to tell them. While no huge controversy attached to Michael D’s candidacy, and he was clearly the most popular runner in the race, you should not have shown your hand.
How, you might well ask, could you have batted it away without stinking out the room (though, to be honest, if they really pushed me, I would dig in to the point of almost certainly blowing my chances – as the political cliché goes, there was a red line).
A line of humour might have got you out of the tight corner. “God love them, it’s a bit like X-Factor at this stage, isn’t it, with all the debates? Or maybe it’s like Dragon’s Den in more ways than one?”
A deflecting line: “To be honest, I am still weighing it all up – there’s another debate to go, and I will see how that pans out”.
Or “I was always told growing up to keep my friends close, my enemies closer and my political opinions closer again.”
If they don’t get the message, it may be time to dig in and tell them straight, even if that approach has a deadening impact on the atmosphere in the room. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that – maybe one of the other panellists will steer the conversation into calmer waters – but if it does, it does.
Would I work for a company who asked this question? If I thought it typified the way they go about their business, probably not; but if I could satisfy myself that this was just one recruiter’s solo-run, I’d probably give them a chance.
I’m not sure, RC, how the discussion unfolded. The fact that you’re not a political junkie or devotee might have stood to you. The danger here was a locking of horns – I suspect the person who asked this question has their own deeply-held political opinions and might be quick to confront anyone with a contrary viewpoint.
That’s the problem with answering the question in the first place. It brings you into dangerous areas. Steering clear is the best response.