A common job interview question about theft is a trap -- here's how to answer it

There are thousands of weird or awkward questions a hiring manager could ask you during a job interview. But one you might actually want to prepare for is: “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?”

According to James Reed, author of “Why You?: 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again,” and chairman of Reed, a top job site in the UK and Europe, hiring managers do sometimes ask this one.

The thing is, we’ve all taken a pen or two … so if you say you haven’t, they might think you’re a liar. But if you say you do it all the time and act like it’s no big deal, that could be problematic, too.

Reed writes in his book that saying something like, “I have one or twice taken a pen from the office in an emergency but I have always returned it the next day or the day after,” is a terrible response. Why? The interviewer knows that pen is still on your desk at home, and might challenge you.

He suggests going with something more realistic, like: “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.”

Click here to find out how to answer eight other awkward interview questions.

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