Surprising Job Interview Question – What is the Last Book You Read?

SEPTEMBER 6, 2010 | BY MICAH

A long time ago, human beings used to cut trees into thin, rectangular strips. They then used carbon and varnish to print symbols on these shaved trees. The symbols represented a story, and these tree shavings were referred to as “books” (pronounced B-oo-Ks).

Contrary to popular belief, these “Books” still exist today. Sure, they may appear to have been replaced by television and video games, but they are still around, gathering dust in bookshelves so that when guests come by they can see how well read you are.

Employers are allowed to ask a variety of non-work related questions at a job interview. They can ask you what books you have recently read. Here are some bad answers:

  • “I like to read Inuyasha fan fiction.”
  • “I prefer to wait for the movie.”
  • “I like to read erotic novels.”
  • “I only read the Bible.”
  • “The last book I read was ‘How to Manipulate the Hiring Manager at Your Job Interview.’”
  • “The last book I read was ‘Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus’ by John Gray”
  • “I have been educating myself in the ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ series.”
  • “I don’t like reading.”

Really, you want to stay away from anything that makes you look unprofessional. Don’t mention books that fall in the following genres:

  • Fantasy
  • Science Fiction
  • Fan Fiction
  • Cheesy Romance
  • Pop Mystery (Dean Koontz)
  • Self Help
  • Vampires/Teen Books Made Into Movies

Non-fiction, classics, standard fiction, poetry, essay writing and some of the more well written mystery novels are all fair game. Be ready to explain the book in its entirety, because if the employer has read the book they are going to want to talk about it with you to ensure you are not making it up. Remember, what you read says a lot about who you are. You want the employer to think that you are a brilliant and educated individual, and your guilty pleasures (like romance novels) should be kept out of the workplace.

Answers for Those That Have Not Read Books Recently

The hard part is coming up with an answer if you have not read any books recently, or you have only read books that will reflect poorly on your candidacy. If that is the case, you can answer like so:

“Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to read for pleasure in quite some time. However, I have been brushing up on some basic sales books. I recently completed ‘Close Like the Pros’ by Steve Marx, and ‘Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling’ by Sam Richter. I have also recently completed ‘Presentation Zen’ by Garr Reynolds. Once I have finished brushing up on sales techniques though, I plan to start ‘The Journeyor’ by Gary Jennings.”

Ideally you will be able to answer this question with a book or two you have recently completed and another book you are starting, and all of these books will reflect highly on you as a person. However, if you truly have not read any books recently, an answer like the one above should be useful for winning over the interviewer.

Take Away Interview Tips

  • Only choose books that make you look refined and intelligent.
  • Mention books you have read recently and a book you are planning to start.

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