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Some times I'll come across a job posting that requires you answer a few questions in your cover letter. The questions are usually what a person in that position would typically be asked in their jobs.

For example, suppose a company has a job posting for client support, the post might contain the following hypothetical question:

A potential client wants to request a demo and available monthly packages. You know that the company packages were recently updated, but you can't recall the details, what do you do?

The company wants to see how a potential candidate would react to being asked a question they didn't know. Would it be unethical to contact a customer service rep and ask those same questions?

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    Only if that's what you would normally do to solve such a problem. – sf02 Mar 18 at 15:21
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    Unless the company recently updated their packages and you can guarantee that the representative knows that the packages changed but doesn't recall the details, and that the representative would tell you what they're doing when you call, I'm hard-pressed to see how doing so would even be useful to you. You'd be misrepresenting yourself, causing more work from the company, and you wouldn't even get an answer to the question you're hoping to answer. You're better off thinking about how you'd really handle it (hint, any company that is hiring client support has documentation you can consult). – Justin Cave Mar 18 at 15:27
  • If it is a tricky question then there is no guarantee that the customer service rep will give a "correct" answer that would be suitable for you to copy. – P. Hopkinson Mar 18 at 16:14
  • I'm struggling to understand the context of the question. Are you applying to an actual job where these questions are asked during the application process? And you're planning on calling someone in the role currently, and asking them the questions, as a way to help you prepare for the application? Or is this whole question just a hypothetical? – dwizum Mar 18 at 16:50
  • It's not clear what you are proposing to ask the existing CSR in your scenario, can you elaborate? So they ask: (e.g.) "how should you react in the situation where client wants to know about the new packages and you know they have changed recently but don't remember the specific details". What would you be asking the CSR in that case? I don't think it's 'unethical' in any case, but unlikely to be practical, especially if the interview/cover letter Qs are so specific. Better to respond authentically as you believe you ought to, assuming you have some CS knowledge already. – seventyeightist Mar 18 at 19:38
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No, it won't be unethical, but it's not of much use to you.

People tend to react to "unknowns" based on their own habit/ criteria or reflex. Sure, you can train/ polish the way you react, but at the end of the day, it's the "you" factor that decides the answer.

In this case, you might get an answer for the "documented" question, where you might "by heart" the answer the company prefers, but that's likely not going to help you in answering the "unknown" unknowns, in the reality.

I'd say, enhance your overall concept / idea related and relevant to the field, and answer truthfully (also, use common senses wherever applicable).

  • If you're correct (as per the expectation), you're good.
  • If you're not correct, you'll get to learn.

Note: With the risk of sounding arrogant / judgmental, I'd like to repeat a very common phrase "Common sense is not so common". Keep things simple, play it cool, it'll help you.

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Most of the questions these sorts of jobs will ask are mainly common sense and scenario based rather than knowledge and information.

Just think about it, think about what would be the most practical solution. It's pointless asking other people because when it comes to someone actually asking you the question you may not always have someone there to ask.

The hypothetical question you have asked (although hypothetical) You could simply write your answer as, "If there were other colleagues around me who were free I'd ask them if they knew. If other colleagues were busy or did not know then I would go and check the package itself".

It's also a lot safer than relying on the rep knowing what they're talking about also.

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