We will be discussing in a series of articles what job applicants can learn from world leaders. We kick off the series with lessons from David Cameron.
David Cameron was Prime Minister of the UK between 2010 and 2016. He resigned after the Brexit referendum. In September 2019, Nick Ferrari interviewed Cameron so the latter could promote his new book.
Ferrari asked tough questions and later commented that Cameron 'came out well' from the interview. Here are strategies that Cameron used with Ferrari - strategies that you can use in your next job interview.
Ferrari asked Cameron whether the latter should be knighted. If Cameron had said yes, some could have been outraged thinking he did not deserve a knighthood. If he had said no, some could have been less inclined to award him one.
What did he answer? He said, 'I haven't thought about it.' He refused to be dragged into a landmine.
In an interview, an employer could ask you: 'How much money do you make in your current position?' Sometimes you do not want to reveal how much you make. It could be a landmine because if you make a lot, you are above their budget. Then, they won't offer you the job. If you make little, they may offer you less salary.
Here is what you can respond. 'I am obviously interested in this position. That's why I came in for an interview. If you make me an offer later, I would be delighted. But that means you first have to get to know me better. What else would you like to know about me?' You can then move on to the next question.
Ferrari asked Cameron whether he had used cocaine. Cameron responded that everyone has done things they regret before politics. He left it at that.
Presumably, Cameron did some cocaine. Otherwise, he could have simply said no. But Cameron did not lie either. Lies can haunt us.
An employer could ask you: 'Where does your current employer think you are right now?'
Your first impulse may be to say, 'He knows what I am doing.' Maybe that's the truth, and that would be fine. Most likely, that would be a lie. Few tell their employer.
Alternatively, you could sheepishly admit that your employer doesn't know where you are. But why be guilty about it? Employees have a right to look for new jobs. So here is what you can respond. 'I don't think my current employer is thinking about where I am right now.'
An employer, who asks the above question, probably wants to know how loyal you are. You can reassure him of that by emphasising that (1) you interested in the current position, (2) you understand employee turnover is disruptive, (3) and you are happy to stay long-term with new the company if everyone is happy with that.
Ferrari asked Cameron how he felt about another politician, Don Cummings. Cameron responded, 'I didn't get on with Dom Cummings.' But he added: He's obviously a very bright guy, a brilliant campaigner and all the rest of it.'
In a way, Cameron's response is very British. 'Didn't get on with him' probably means he hated Cummings' guts. But Cameron was measured, because the alternative would be worse.
An interviewer could ask you what you think about your previous employer. You may dislike your previous employer. You may even be right in disliking him. Maybe he passed off your work as his.
So faced with that question, you could thrash your employer: 'He was the worst person I ever met. I am sure his pets hate him. He stole my work.' But thrashing him will make the interviewer wary. The interviewer cannot judge who the villain in that story is. Did your employer really take credit for work he didn't do? Or did you just do donkey work and overestimate your contribution? The interviewer is puzzled and suspicious.
There is a better answer. Instead, you can be measured. 'Well, obviously I thought there is a lot to learn from him, and that is why I worked there for two years. He is a great presenter and delegates well. I am now ready to learn new things and that is why I am here.'
People have strong opinions on Cameron - that he is privileged or out of touch. Whatever you may think, he is a bright guy. Job applicants, as well as anyone else, can learn a lot from him.
Poor Alexander is a website that helps job applicants do well in interviews. Here we write about interviews, CVs, employment, money, and psychology. Our articles are based on the primary research we do, the literature we review, and our own experience.