In this week on KIQ, you may think the hiring manager is trying to be nice by asking for your thoughts on the interview so far, but it's really a trick question in disguise.
You're nervous as hell in an interview already. The hiring manager is going through the standard questions. You're doing your best to stay focused and answer as thoughtfully as possible. They nod as you're answering and then follows up with: "What are your thoughts on the interview process so far?"
All of a sudden, it seems like the hiring manager wants you to assess them. What's going on here?
You may think they legitimately want your feedback on this matter, but chances are they don't really want to know. What the hiring manager is trying to do is to see how diplomatic you are.
James Reed is the chairman of job search website Reed and the author of a book dedicated to tough interview questions. He breaks down this question in his book and said the interviewee needs to be careful in how they respond because they have to strike a balance between flattery and criticism:
"At first glance this is a truly weird question. Your answer couldn’t be in any way relevant to the job at hand, could it? But maybe in a sort of sneaky way, it could. "While your ability to critique your interviewer is highly unlikely to be an essential skill should you get the job, the ability to offer constructive feedback while maintaining pleasant relations with colleagues almost certainly will come in handy. In all likelihood that’s the essential political skill your interviewer is trying to test here."
The best way to answer, according to Reed, is by being truthful and constructive in a respectful way. Avoid obvious flattery and try to stay diplomatic.
You can read a suggested response by Reed over at Business Insider Australia.