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What book is on your nightstand?

With this question the interviewer isn’t trying to butt into your private life or into your cleaning habits, they’re trying to get an idea of what interests you. This question may be better phrased “What book are you currently reading?” or “What books do you read?” Be honest, but consider that even if you aren’t reading a book, answer by relating the types of books you read.

A good answer involves reading that has to do with the job, company or profession. This could be specific books about the career or field, or business books in general. Some examples:

“Some medical journal or another. I’m not a doctor, but working in the field I like to keep up with it.”

“Forbes, there’s a lot of good material in there.”

“100 Habits of Highly Successful People. I’ve already read it, but I like to re-read it once in awhile to refresh my mind and practice those habits.”

There may be a particular hot book for your profession, or that pertains to business in general. If so, buy a copy and put it on the nightstand if you’re worried about not telling a fib.

But a good answer doesn’t have to involve a business book, even though that’s the safest choice. If reading is a hobby, and you read interesting books instead of something like comic books, mention the latest thriller or non fiction.

“I’m reading History of the Western World. You’d be amazed how our social and business practices today come from what people did thousands of years ago.”

If you have children, maybe the book on the nightstand is a children’s book. Don’t worry about mentioning it, as long as you give the right explanation – you don’t want the interviewer to think you consider Dr. Seuss serious reading.

“Outside of work my children take up a lot of my time, so usually their favorite book is on the nightstand, waiting for me to read their bed time story.”

The rules of thumb for this question:

• Business books or publications are best.
• Answer what books you like to read if nothing is on the night stand.
• If reading is a hobby, or if you have children, mention the title with a short explanation.

Some books you shouldn’t mention, even if you do read them:

• Avoid Work for Dummies
• 1001 Ways to Steal Office Supplies
• Funny Web Site Browsing at Work

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