Interview questions are complicated. Very few are actually as simple as they sound. The interviewer is likely trying to find something out on a deeper level. If you are able to recognize the meaning behind the question, your answer will be stronger and more effective.
An especially misleading and confusing question is, “How do you feel about reporting to a younger person While this question will likely only come up if a superior is younger than you, your answer will speak volumes about your character, even about assets that have nothing to do with age. Essentially, the interview is trying to get a better idea about what kind of person you are.
Points to Emphasize
This can be a very awkward question, so the most important approach is to remain positive. If nothing else, this will communicate your ability to remain focused in unusual circumstances.
- Remember that there is a good chance you will be reporting to a younger person. You should be sensitive to the situation and open to taking orders from someone younger.
- Perhaps more importantly, the interviewer will learn about your ability to function in other awkward situations. You should emphasize your willingness to work hard regardless of the circumstances.
- You can also emphasize your open-mindedness. Being close-minded about anything is never appealing.
- Lastly, your interviewer will learn about your ability to follow instructions. Even if your manager is not younger than you, it will be beneficial to know you are willing to take orders regardless of any unusual situation.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Make an effort to avoid falling into any of these pitfalls as well.
- This is a sensitive topic. It can be easy to sound rude, even if you do not intend it. Try to avoid being impolite in each aspect of your answer.
- Do not put qualifiers on anything. Saying you are willing to report to a younger person as long as they are qualified or professional or anything else does not communicate open-mindedness.
- Avoid sounding negative. Even if you say you are willing to work with a younger manager, if it sounds like you are doing so grudgingly, it does not make you appealing.
- Do not sound like you are making an exception. You should communicate that it is never an issue in any situation.
A strong answer to this question will be similar to this:
The thought of whether I am reporting to a younger or older person never enters my mind. My superiors are my superiors. Age never enters into that. Likewise, no other quality or personal attribute will affect my ability to follow instructions.