What’s your favorite book and movie? Have you ever been asked this in an interview? I personally never have. Then again, I haven’t interviewed for a job in a long time. However, now that my kids are all in school during the day, the idea of going back to work has crossed my mind a few times. It’s usually fleeting. The logistics of an actual work schedule and my kids’ schedule doesn’t really pan out well.
Even though I know I’m not going to go back to work for a company anytime in the near future, I still like to research interview questions occasionally. Why? Because the idea of interviewing for anything intimidates me. No scratch that, it terrifies me! Even when we were interviewing for different private schools for our kids I was super anxious. The simple thought of an interview shouldn’t be that distressing. However, for me, it is. Obviously, this isn’t healthy and at some point I’ll have to address it whether I choose to return to the workforce or start my own business.
So, one of the things I do to alleviate my fear of interviews is research different interview questions and the proper way to respond to them. While doing research, I found an interesting question posted in Reddit. A girl posted about a question she was asked during her interview. Her interviewer asked what her favorite book was. The question threw her off guard, and she couldn’t think of an answer at the time. She assumed she bombed the interview, but was curious why someone would ask that and what the right answer to the question would be.
I know some of you are probably thinking, just answer truthfully. And, initially, I was thinking the same. However, is that really the best advice? I’m not so sure! The things we like say a lot about who we are as a person. But, they can also be wrongly interpreted. Ultimately, a person’s perception is their reality. So, if the interviewer believes a particular genre is a waste of time, and you respond with a title from that genre, how much does that one answer impact their impression of you?
One of my biggest fears, is rejection. So, naturally, I immediately started to wonder what people would think about me based on my favorite book and movie. I quickly realized that I have several favorites, not just one. So, would an interviewer interpret that as indecisiveness or simply as a person who really enjoys reading? It’s hard to say. Then again, you could just use a safe or standard answer.
I’ll be honest, I’m not too keen on standard answers. Not only is that boring, but it might also be a red flag. If everyone has the same answer or relatively the same safe answer, then it’s pretty obvious that someone is lying. So, what do you do? How do you prevent giving the interviewer the wrong impression based on your favorite books and movies? I personally feel like it’s probably all in the explanation of why a particular book or movie is your favorite. I say this because we gravitate to certain types of movies and books for a reason. For example, if you like solving puzzles and problems then you probably gravitate to mysteries and crime dramas.
This may be especially true if you happen to like sci-fi. Historically, sci-fi fans get a bad rap. There was even a study done back in 2017, it was called “The Great Fantasy Migration: Exploring Individual Differences In The Move To An Online World”. The study compares personality traits consistent with narcissism and mistrust among individuals who identify with “geek culture (a.k.a. sci-fi fans). Basically everything I’ve read alludes to the idea that sci-fi fans are either crazy or looking to escape reality. Neither of which would be appealing to a potential employer if they believed this to be true. For the record, I descent. I personally believe that all of us have traits consistent with narcissism. Having several of the traits doesn’t make you a narcissist, it makes you human. Don’t believe me? Head over to psychcentral.com and take a quiz. When you’re finished, let me know how many boxes you checked yes to. Now, keep in mind, the study was a self answered questionnaire. The study was not based on individual professional assessment of each of the participants.
Anyway, I believe the only logical way to handle this interview question is to be honest and give an explanation about what you liked about that book. If I were to answer this question my answer would probably sound something like:
“my favorite book of all time would probably be The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. It paralleled the American Revolution and our country’s fight for freedom and independence, challenged our country’s stagnant beliefs about how things should be, and showcased the Loonies as a race of open-minded and nonjudgmental people. I think there is a lot we could learn from putting aside what we believe is right and wrong and look at situations from a new perspective. I also really liked how the plot also mirrored our current climate as we as progress further into space exploration. It pushes the limits and opens the mind to completely new ways of viewing life, problems, and possibilities”.
If you’re an interviewer, I’d love to hear you thoughts on the topic. Do you ask this question? How do you interpret the answers? If you’re an interviewee, have you ever been asked this before? What did you say? Did you feel it had a major impact on how the interviewer ranked you as a candidate? Leave your comments below!