In a previous KIQ, we asked whether you can sell a pen. This new pen question is a bit more challenging.
Everybody has stolen at least one pen; be it accidentally or on purpose. It’s such an innocuous thing to nick because pens are inexpensive, abundant and — unless they’re from a renowned brand or have some sentimental value — not often missed. In a workplace, it’s quite common to ask to borrow a pen from a co-worker, take it home and never return it. It’ probably all from the office stationary pool anyway.
So what should you do when you’re asked the question, “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?”
That’s an awkward question because if you say you haven’t, it would sound disingenuous. But if you say that you have and pass it off as a small transgression, then you can come across as an unrepentant petty thief.
According to James Reed, author of Why? You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again, the worst way you can answer this question is by admitting to taking pens and claiming you always return them later. That’s because the interviewer might challenge you on that claim.
He suggests a more realistic answer, such as:
“Well, I’d be lying to say I haven’t ever absentmindedly slipped a ballpoint into my jacket pocket, but it usually ends up back on my desk the following day, unless I leave it at home. I haven’t got a spare room full of paperclips and staplers, though, if that’s what you mean.”
How would you tackle this question? Let us know in the comments.