I’m supposed to write 23 mini-essays in 24 hours before an employer will even interview me

A reader writes:

I am in the early stages of job searching and have a situation that I’m not sure is abnormal or not. I received the following questionnaire to complete after I applied for a director level job in the nonprofit/association industry. The initial request was to complete this within 24 hours. I was out of the country at the time and I responded informing the hiring manager as such. I did not open the questionnaire while on vacation. When I returned and opened the questionnaire, I was shocked because it was going to take me a few hours to complete. My gut instinct is telling me to pass because there is no indication whether or not I would receive a phone or in-person interview. Also, they wanted me to complete this within a very fast turnaround, which sets of some alarms about the organization. Are these types of questions normal in hiring these days? Have I been out of the loop on hiring procedures and processes?

1. If you would, please describe/explain the reasons for your career moves/job changes, including gaps of employment if applicable.

2. What about this opportunity at the Teapot Inc interests you at this time in your career?

3. How many staff have you supervised? How would you describe your management style?

4. Please describe one specific accomplishment in your career that aligns closely with the position.

5. Can you provide examples of your work ethic; project management, meeting timelines/ deliverables and working hour’s flexibility as needed or defined by need?

6. Marketing experience: What experience do you possess in using reporting analytics as a tool prior to development of a marketing campaign to narrow the focus with regard to the message, the medium, and the audience of the campaign?

7. Digital Marketing Strategy Experience: Please provide any experience you have had with digital marketing strategy.

8. Membership Performance Reporting Analysis- Describe your experience and approach with strategic planning and reporting analysis with membership performance and metrics other than those related membership marketing including the following:

· Membership Reporting & Analysis (Membership Counts & Revenue)

· Membership Revenue Forecasting

· Member Surveys Analytics/Survey Tools used

· Marketing ROI –Recruitment/Retention Efforts

· Membership Year Over Year performance metrics

· Membership Categories Assessment/ROI

· Others examples that would be important to share

9. Membership Modeling – Can you provide your experience with creating new membership categories for individuals and institutional (corporate) membership?

10. Cross Marketing – Can you provide examples of how you have developed cross marketing opportunities for membership and other products and services?

a. Explain how these cross marketing opportunities were successful and how they were measured

11. Collaboration/Conflict- Can you provide your strengths and areas for growth concerning managing collaboration and conflict?

12. Board of Directors & Committees Support- Any experience with bringing developing/planning for presenting new issues and ideas to the board of directors? If yes, please provide a brief scenario.

i. Please explain how you have educated the Board or Committees with effective planning?

ii. How do or would you manage expectations of committees and key parties related to any potential strategic changes?

iii. Do you have experience, and how comfortable are you leading committee discussion?

iv. Please provide example(s) where you’ve had to guide discussions without taking control.

v. Please provide example(s) where you’ve had to reign in overly ambitious participants, without limiting the scope of discussion.

11. If not included with your resume, please provide your specific salary range/requirements. Please provide your specific salary requirement and/or range and please do not state “salary is negotiable”.

12. If there is any other information that you’d like to share to help us in our evaluation of your credentials, please feel free to add that to the e-mail!


It’s also incredibly rude.

These questions are interview questions, not essay questions. They’re asking you to save them from having to invest time in an initial interview with you — at the cost of you having to spend a huge amount of time writing out answers to an absurd number of questions. In fact, you’ll probably end up investing MORE time in writing out answers to these questions than if they’d just set up a phone interview to ask these same things, because writing generally takes longer than speaking, and because since it’s in writing, you’re likely to spend time polishing your answers in a way you wouldn’t in a normal conversation. (And actually, as a demonstration of how ridiculous this is, these questions would even be too much for a phone interview — by the time you’re getting into this level of detail and this number of questions, you need to bring people in for a real interview.) They’re prioritizing a small amount of their time over a huge amount of your time.

And not only are they asking you to spend a huge amount of your time on this, they’re asking you to do it without the benefit of getting to talk to them and ask your own questions to figure out if this is even a job you want to fulfill.

If they wanted to send you one or two of these questions to answer in writing before they decide who to interview, that would be fine. But this is 23 questions (once you include all the sub-bullets). And they’re not quick questions, either. Questions like “Please provide example(s) where you’ve had to reign in overly ambitious participants, without limiting the scope of discussion” are asking for mini-essays, not a couple of sentences. (I especially love that it’s “example(s)” — like they’re suggesting you might want to write multiple mini-essays for each of these.)

At best, this is an organization that has little experience hiring and has no idea how to do it effectively, and doesn’t realize that their strongest candidates are going to say “F this” and withdraw. More likely, it’s indicative that they think hiring is a one-way street (they get to evaluate you, and you get to be grateful for their interest — as opposed to you both evaluating each other other, which is how it’s supposed to work) and have a odious disregard for your time.

So, no, this is not normal, and it’s not okay.

Personally, I’d write back and say, “This is an extensive writing project and would require me to invest several hours writing out responses to questions that are normally the sort posed in interviews, without having any chance to talk with you and determine my own level of interest. Generally interviews are a two-way dialogue so both sides can determine if they want to proceed. Best of luck filling the position.”

{ 393 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Ahem, bad hiring manager: it’s *rein* in.

    (In addition to what Alison says, I am skeptical that anybody of any weight in hiring is going to read all this for every applicant.)

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Right?? I struggle to read everything for hiring as it is. You want me to read responses to 23 minutiae-filled questions? There’s truly no way. The applications would become fodder for my attempt at a standing desk (i.e., use the paper to elevate your monitors and keyboard).

        1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

          Exactly! I pictured a person reading the answers with a red pen to mark off mistakes.

      1. Antilles*

        Had the same thought. What in the world is the hiring manager doing with his life that reading *23 essays* for every single applicant is feasible? Don’t you have like, an actual job to do?

        1. Teal*

          Maybe I’m being cynical, but I skimmed the questions and all I saw was “We already have an internal candidate. Please do not apply and make us do more interviews.”

          1. Gay Drunk Patriots Fan*

            ^^^^^^^ aaaaaaaand, I think we have our Showcase Showdown winner, right here. ^^^^^^^^

        2. Artemesia*

          My first thought too. No way I am going to even read this unless the resume jumps out as wonderful. So if in my hiring I had required this, I would be having dozens of people put this time in and I would spend 30 second on most of them as soon as a glance at their resume said they were not likely to be serious candidates.

          And even the top 10 applicants — I am not going to really carefully read 230 essays. So they are requiring all this work and you could never convince me they are even going to really use it.

          I hope every good candidate sends the kind of response Alison is suggesting.

          1. Antilles*

            Frankly, even if you did carefully read 230 essays, how would you even compare? It’s just *so much data* that you’re going to absolutely lose the forest for the trees – by the time you get to applicant #6, you’re going to have completely forgotten the specifics of applicants 1 to 3 and just relying on your general impressions anyways, defeating the whole purpose of asking in the first place!

              1. Liane*

                And the guide papers. Rubrics alone aren’t sufficient. I’ve done a lot of essay scoring, I love it, but I am screaming inside at the thought of reading piles of Brief Constructed Responses to even 1 of those questions.

          2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Yeah–I was on the applicant side of this a few years ago, back when I was naive enough to actually submit to this kind of thing. The employer requested written answers to about 7-8 questions like those above. I spend hours and hours writing and polishing my answers, plus writing a thoughtful cover letter and tailoring my resume…only to get a form rejection within 30 minutes of submitting my application.

            That *really* stung. I was especially incensed that there’s no way they got to my questions before rejecting me. I totally get that you often know right off the bat when someone isn’t quite right for a position. But do not make applicants spend a ton of time on something that you’re not even going to look at before rejecting them.

            1. SignalLost*

              Yup. I ran across a position last week that would be a bit of a stretch in terms of responsibility but not in terms of duties, and then I got to their background check form and noped the eff out of there. It’s a position at a school district, essentially, so I get why they got a LOOOOT more specific listing crimes (most of which I had actually not heard of) because everyone has a brain fart now and again, but the thing that turned me off was that they also asked a bunch of interview questions like whether you’d ever been fired or placed on a PIP and the circumstances of that, etc. And a) I have been placed on a PIP and fired, and b) it was because I wasn’t finding a job fast enough to get out of there on my own terms and my coworkers and I mutually hated each other. Or maybe it was c) because I’d used hyperbolic language in an email, which is what they told unemployment. Or maybe it was d) that I was missing deadlines (no examples could be provided) and I’d supposedly flipped someone off six months previously, which is what they told me.

              I just feel like these are interview questions as well. You really can’t ask these questions (or the ones in this email) in writing, in part because that assumes that the conditions you previously experienced actually apply to the poster’s position. Certainly if I respond to stress by lighting small objects on fire and I’ve been convicted of arson ten times as a result, that’s informative and useful, but … so many of these questions (0r the ones in my form) assume that the conditions at Previous Job are exactly the same as at Potential Job, and let me tell you, if your database was in as bad shape as the one at my previous job was, I wouldn’t take your damn job.

      2. ThisIshRightHere*

        This reminds me of those KSA (knowledge and skills assessment, I think) questions you had to answer UPON APPLYING to many fed gov jobs back in the day. I’m not sure if the process is still like that. But I remember spending many evenings writing dozens of full-out essays in order to apply for some random entry-level bureaucrat job I wasn’t even sure I wanted. Best part, I never even received any acknowledgement of receipt. One of the jobs was kind enough to send me an auto-email informing me that they only write back to people they plan to interview and to please resist the urge to follow up.

        1. De Minimis*

          I think the KSA process has mostly been ditched for a more traditional multiple choice question format that measures level of expertise in different job duties, but it likely still depends on the agency. But I’ve applied to a lot of federal jobs through the years and I don’t recall having to do KSAs at least for the last decade.

          Their following up can still be pretty shoddy, again, depending on the agency.

    2. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*


      (and agreed – this just screams ‘low-level person going through the slush pile checking off a checklist’)

      1. mcr-red*

        My mind checked out not even halfway through. I cannot believe anyone doing the hiring is going to read all that!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m guessing it’s someone who’s never hired before. And they are putting in every question they wish someone had asked them at some point.

        1. teclatrans*

          I am nearly obsessive about reading every question in its entirety, and I NOPED out at about question 5 (when my indignation was so far off the charts, my eyes were crossing).

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ooh, one of my biggest pet peeves in written communication. Forget their/there/they’re! Mine is rain/rein/reign.

      1. Hellanon*

        I keep seeing “free reign” which always makes me want to point out that reigns are never free.

        1. Anna*

          In Oregon, there is no such thing as free rain, as some of my students were appalled to learn at one point. Rain belongs to the city if falls on…apparently.
          /end pointless tangent

          OP, this is asinine levels of dumb.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Well, it’s free to the city!

            Around here, we don’t even call it “rain”. We call it “free water, falling from the sky”. Because during several years of drought, that’s what it was! FREE water. And coming from the sky instead of my hose.

            (“Around here” means “in my house”, btw.)

            1. Carpe Librarium*

              As an Aussie, please consider my ghast well and truly flabbered at the idea of rainwater collection being illegal.

              1. Software Engineer*

                It’s a western US thing, due to the dry soil conditions out there. The east coast has no such restriction.

                1. Q*

                  Yeah, it’s a drought and ecological thing. The droughts are only going to get worse if people keep collecting all the water and refuse to let it return to the environment…and lots would, to save the obscene price of water out there.

                  Same reasons the Saguaro cactus all belong to New Mexico, legally. People will destroy them otherwise.

                2. Born and raised in New Mexico*

                  (This is a response to Q) There are no saguaros in New Mexico. Maybe you mean all saguaros in Arizona belong to the State of Arizona?

                1. Jaz*

                  I learnt to differentiate between those two by losing hit points in an online game xD (second language speaker here)

                2. Professional Bleeding Heart*

                  try to/try and
                  as in
                  I will try to do these ridiculous questions
                  I will try and do these ridiculous questions

                  I see ‘try and’ EVERYWHERE and it makes me ragey.
                  I know that it is used in casual language but it’s just NOT RIGHT thank-you-very-much.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Ooh, discreet/discrete gets me too! Not quite as bad as rain/rein/reign, but it’s definitely bothersome. I think the more common ones have just turned into background orthographical radiation.

            1. Kewlmom*

              From the OP’s questionnaire: “working hour’s flexibility” should be the plural, not the possessive: “working hours flexibility.”

              1. JustaTech*

                In addition to that being terrible grammar (if even I noticed it) is a *huge* red flag of “we’re going to expect you to work 24/7”.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Background Orthographical Radiation is going to have to be the title of my memoirs, that’s awesome.

        2. Artemesia*

          I had someone in another forum get on my case for mentioning something that was discrete when it was clearly very obvious. I just laughed inside.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          There are so many if I wrote them all out the list would be longer that the essays OP is being asked to write.

          However a couple/few of my biggies: to/too/two, compliment/complement, effect/affect, hear/here, bare/bear, hair/hare, break/brake… I better stop. This could go on all day.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        “Provide examples, at least one per verb, in which you’ve had to (rain on/ rein in/ reign over) someone attempting to dominate a discussion.”

        1. Lil Fidget*

          “One time, I was a raindrop. Another time, I was riding a horse. Finally, I was an evil queen. Next question!”

      3. Lioness*

        Mine is loose/lose given that they sound differently which irks me to no end. Other ones like that one annoy me, but not to the same extent.

      4. MM*

        As someone who used to work with horses, it especially bugs me. I assume it happens because people aren’t familiar with the word “rein;” you see the same thing with “pull up on the reigns” (ugh), where the phrase is quite literally referencing the object called a rein.

        As a result I’m pretty sure that in the next decade or two all the phrases that contain the word “rein” are going to transition to “reign,” and “rein” will be a fossil word except for people who actually use them. I’m trying to just accept that and let it go, but oooooh does it bug me.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Yeah to be totally fair, the reason I have probably whiffed on this in the past is that I hardly ever see the word “rein” written out for any reason, so the proper spelling isn’t really cemented in my brain. (“Reindeer” is the only exception, and not necessarily helpful). If I was reading a lot of equestrian catalogs or pony novels I’m sure I wouldn’t have these problems! :D

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          Nonplussed. It is, as we speak, changing its meaning to the opposite. (I learned this when I did some quick research before I corrected someone online.) In my personal life I rage about it, but in my professional life I just don’t use it, ever. Maybe in another 50 years, when the transition is behind us.

          (I suspect it’s because of that “non” beginning. We’re very clear in our language that it’s a negating prefix. Like with “in-“, as in, “inflammable”. Which means “can be set on fire” because “in” is not actually a prefix in that setting, but it’s confusing enough to English speakers that the word “flammable” has been created and now “flammable” and “inflammable” are synonymous. Check out some chemical safety signs if you’re confused by this.)

          (I further suspect that this is related to how kids learning to speak will hyper-regularize their grammar, because they’re learning the regular grammar and don’t have room in their brains for irregular grammar. But now I’m really going out on a limb.)

          1. Candi*

            From some people I’ve seen, it’s a case of ‘this word does not mean what I think it means. I will make it mean what I think it means’.

          2. Carpe Librarium*

            I recommend “How I Met My Wife” by Jack Winter, it’s a New Yorker article published in 1994 full of unpaired words like ‘shevelled’ and ‘corrigible’.

          3. Lynn Whitehat*

            The German verb for “to bake” has become regular over the last 50 years. People aren’t talking about what they have baked enough to reinforce the irregular form anymore.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        No one will read this. These are interview questions. And, in a real interview, both parties will have the opportunity to end the discussion if either sees the interview going south. This approach wastes everyone’s time for no good reason.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      And the inconsistent numbering, and question 5 has at least three grammatical errors (I think – it’s hard to tell just what they’re trying to say).

  2. Murphy*

    NOOOOO, what? That is way too much work.

    I will say, the place that I work gave me a questionnaire that basically took the place of a phone screen. But a) it was nowhere near this many questions (like maybe half a dozen) and b) I had several days to complete it.

    1. k.k*

      I had something similar, but again like 4 questions and almost a week to turn it in. And even that got annoying, because I ended up saying almost the same thing for two of the questions because there was overlap.

      This is such a massive waste of time for everyone involved.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        My mom had to do something similar for an interview. It was 3 or 4 questions that they needed in essay format (the manager who wanted this is no longer there, so they no longer do this at her employer). It *almost* made sense, and it was at the stage in between phone and in-person interviews. Writing is also a large part of her job description. It was still nerve wracking for her to have to do it.

        1. Ophelia*

          Yeah – we definitely give candidates a writing test for writing-heavy roles, but we let them know in advance that it’s part of the second round of interviews, AND we do it in the office and it takes a maximum of 2 hours.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            I remember it didn’t take her long at all. But they couldn’t have done hers in their office previous to a final interview because she was out of state at the time.

            1. Ophelia*

              Ah, gotcha. Yeah – ours isn’t trying to be tricky or something, we just really need to know what someone’s unedited writing style is like (and it has helped us catch a few VERY qualified people who couldn’t string two words together, and one person who–when there was noise in the hall outside the office where she was working–YELLED at the people to be quiet. That was certainly interesting.)

        2. WonderingHowIGotHere*

          We do a writing test as part of the hiring process. It’s so we can assess their ability to extract the important data and draft an appropriate letter response. It’s more like a comprehension and grammar test. And, crucially, it takes 23 minutes for 3 questions (no, I don’t know why it’s an odd number of minutes).
          Candidates take the test on our premises and are taken in for an in person interview the same day if they do well enough on the test – we only ever bring in a maximum of 4 candidates, staggered, in a session.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      Yes! I backed out of a search for a job I was really excited about because the application required several written questions that were just WAY too much work to expect before a single phone call. The search was being managed by a firm, and was a mid-senior level position, but the questions were like, “What would your top five priorities be in your first year in this role, and how would you achieve them?” So, not a paragraph, and also not a very informed answer having just read the job description. This is the kind of thing I might expect for, say, an Executive Director role, but even then, after lots of cultivation conversations, not right off the bat.

      I saw that they re-posted this position a bunch of times, and it doesn’t look like anyone with this title or function is listed on the org’s website, so I wonder if the application was a deterrent.

      In any light, this process is ridiculous. Hiring takes time. Hiring well takes more time.

      1. FRChick*

        I had the same ridiculous experience with a 16 questions questionnaire (!). I had applied via a recruiter, then I did a screening interview (in person) where they told me who their client was (it wasn’t mentioned in the ad). At the end of the interview, the recruiter tells me that I will receive a short questionnaire for paperwork and to get references. The blank questionnaire was 3 pages long, the questions were very detailed (some of them asking for minimum 200 words per answer!), and I had already answered many of them during the interview (which felt insulting). I was not super enthusiastic about the client, so I told them I was withdrawing from the process. But I really wish I would have told them that they were using ridiculous methods!

    3. many bells down*

      I recently drafted a sample lesson plan for a job I’d applied to, because I wanted to confirm that we were on the same page with regard to what I’d be teaching. I had 3 days to work on it, and it does not take me 3 full days to draft a one-week lesson plan for a single subject. And, I did this *after* the interview, when I knew I was interested.

    4. Kuododi*

      I have interviewed at a couple of mental health clinics where I was asked to write a hypothetical case evaluation as part of the interview process. It was done on the day of the interview and took thirty/forty-five minutes tops. NBD…..as fast as this stuff is concerned…it redefines stupid!!!

    5. ZucchiniBikini*

      My last salaried job before I started freelancing had a writing test too – but it was part of the second interview, took 1.5 hours (overall interview was 2.5 hours with conversational bit), was directly relevant to ability to do the job, and occurred after first interview so both parties knew we were interested in pursuing this further. I thought it was a good idea in that context. What the LW describes – before even a PHONE SCREEN – is bonkers and I would run a mile.

  3. Hills to Die on*

    Well, I think that’s a perfect response!

    I had a request for info on what makes me stand out (be creative and really impress us!). Um, this is not for an artistic role. It’s a project manager. I never responded. Weirdos.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      I might want to write back, and tweak the script to actually ask why they’re doing this. “It’s very unusual for a hiring position to request extensive writing containing questions typically addressed in an interview. Would you be able to explain your rationale for this process?”

      Not because I’d be interested in pursuing the position, but I would be dying of curiosity to know how these chuckleheads managed to decide this was a good idea.

      1. Teal*

        I’d send back 20+ questions of my own that I needed answered in 24 hours before I’d be willing to move forward.

        1. As Close As Breakfast*

          Maybe your “gumption” would “really impress them!” and they’d move you to the top of the stack, lol.

        2. Jo*

          Lol, I was going to say that as well – send them 23 questions of your own which require mini essay type amswers

    2. A Person.*

      I received a similar request for a PM job, and the company said they would prefer my response uploaded as a video! I declined to do so and my written response failed to move me to the next round. I got the impression I was not the young and hip type of person they were seeking. Big waste of time, I should’ve passed.

      1. mialoubug*

        I wonder if the video upload is a way to age discriminate. It would be an interesting one for the courts.

        1. A Person.*

          I suspected it might be based on language in the advertisement (nothing blatant, just the tone of it) and the fun and energetic work environment promoted on their recruitment page. But no way to prove that.

          1. A Person.*

            But I mention all this to say that sometimes written screening questions in advance of an interview aren’t the worst thing – as long as they are relevant and respectful of the candidate’s time!

    3. LKW*

      It’s an incredibly polite response. I believe I would struggle to provide such a professional response.

    4. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      I don’t think I’d bother to respond. One look at all those essay-type questions and I’d quickly conclude these folks were kinda nuts and that their hiring process (23 essay questions? Yeah, right…) was loco, and I’d end it right there. Waste of my time. Next!

      1. Roseberriesmaybe*

        Off topic, but I wanted to say how much I love your username! Hildegard is very important to me as a female mystic and Church Mother

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I’m really curious who decided this was a good idea. It’s a ludicrous request, and it shows a real lack of understanding of how interviewing and hiring should work. It’s not useful to have candidates write mini-essays on topics like “collaboration/conflict,” which are better answered through dialogue. Some of the questions are impossible to answer without investing a lot of real estate and space. Reading responses CANNOT be faster than just having a 1-hour conversation with finalists.

    I feel so bad for the OP and all other applicants for this job.

    1. Koko*

      Yes, and relevant to the “you’ll work more to polish this written piece than you would speaking off-the-cuff in an interview” is that if you don’t invest all that time and your answers are ambiguous or unclear, that would probably just count against you instead of just leading to a clarifying follow-up question.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        And you want to actually witness someone’s tone and manner when they talk about this stuff.

        1. serenity*

          Very much agreed. The ability to massage written answers and edit/re-edit eliminates one of the key benefits of in-person interviews: the ability to see how a candidate thinks on their feet, communicates well, is personable and articulate, and to assess verbal and non-verbal cues, etc. An interview shouldn’t be replaced by what is essentially a take-home test that will take oodles of time to complete.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Exactly. I wonder how many candidates are just googling answers to these and copying/pasting.

      2. MM*

        And conversely, written responses give the candidate the opportunity to slip through by appearing more thoughtful or nimble on these subjects than they really are, by having someone edit their responses for them or similar. I mean, in this case, they deserve what they get, but it’s a really bad way to do your sorting.

    2. Genevieve*

      Plus, I feel like a lot of the folks I know who AREN’T good at, say, handling conflict, would be better able to massage a written account to make that less noticeable than it would be in a conversation.

    3. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t feel sorry for the applicants. I think they can view this ridiculous request as a chance to quickly rule out a clueless employer at zero financial cost. If the employer is like this when they’re trying to lure someone in, what the heck are they like to work for day to day? I wouldn’t want to find out the hard way.

      This, to me, is firmly in “bullet dodged” territory. And you don’t even need dress up and travel to have a look at their misfiring old blunderbuss. You can hear it blowing up in the shooter’s hands as you read the request. I don’t want to work for the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

  5. Barney Barnaby*

    I once received a lengthy, substantive quiz/project 24 hours before the interview and was informed that I had a 24 hour deadline to do it.

    I responded, nicely, that I was more than happy to complete the exercise, but that it was not appropriate to ask an interviewee (i.e. not a paid employee) to complete substantive work on a tight deadline, on her own time. They pulled the interview.

    I firmly believe that some of this is just hiring gone awry (and that, in years past with the high unemployment rate, enough people were desperate that people actually did this); sometimes, it is an early test to determine how much nonsense you’ll put up with.

    1. MassMatt*

      This is another reason this type of application tactic will backfire. Not only will people with strong credentials refuse to do it, but the pool of applicants that will are likely to be desperate or naive.

      Perhaps the company knows this and wants such candidates so it can underpay them? But more likely they just don’t know what they are doing.

      1. Barney Barnaby*

        This was a very large company and the pay rate was approximately what would be expected for that role. I think it was mostly about seeing who was subservient enough to jump when asked to jump.

  6. K.*

    I read the title and was like “Nope!” and my position was solidified when I read the letter. And not only is it a waste of time for the candidates, it’s a waste of time for the hiring manager and/or HR. They’re not going to read all this for multiple candidates.

  7. First time buyer*

    I gave up half way through reading the list of questions.

    That’s a crazy amount of work to ask of someone.

    1. B*

      Same here. This organization does not sound like a place anyone would wish to be. Either it is disorganized, has no idea how to hire or is of the mind that they are the bees knees and you should be bowing to them. Nope, no thank you! Trust your gut on this one.

    2. LKW*

      That’s a crazy amount of work to ask someone to review from respondents! What are you going to do – create some crazy matrix and cut and paste responses to see who prepares the best set?

      Much easier to listen to someone talk and check off the boxes when they hit something important allowing you an opportunity to ask a follow up question in real time.

      This is a bad idea from start to finish.

    3. Pomona Sprout*

      Yeah, my eyes started to glaze over about halfway through. So I started to skim rather than read closely…but I just couldn’t do it and noped the eff out of there!

      1. Ophelia*

        at least 100, if you write it in 20-point comic sans and send it as a .pdf, like they so richly deserve.

        1. Amber T*

          OMG. If you don’t care about burning bridges and have free time in the next week, please do this. And let us know if you get a response back.

        2. ProfessorPlum*

          And you could always answer all questions with the cupcake ipsum text generator:

          Cupcake ipsum dolor. Sit amet biscuit cake halvah. Dragée donut gummies tootsie roll gingerbread dessert dessert soufflé. Dragée sweet roll gummi bears lollipop cake cupcake marshmallow.


          1. Hildegard Vonbingen*

            Thanks for making me laugh this morning. And you know what? You’d probably have just as good a chance of being called in for an interview as some poor schmuck who actually took the time necessary to thoroughly answer each of their 23 questions. Because who is going to read all that stuff? Just imagine what a face-to-face interview with these knuckleheads would be like! Makes me laugh just thinking about it.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Don’t forget color. Highlight random words in different colors. And a multicolored stationery background. Random clip art in the margins.

      2. Candi*

        In 12 point Arial, single spaced? 30-35 easy. Maybe up to 50.

        I like the Comic Sans idea. Papyrus would work too.

  8. Lil Fidget*

    I think nonprofits can be especially weird about this stuff, for whatever reason. I had nonprofits send me questions on a Saturday wanting a same-day response, nonprofits calling my references without even talking to me first, and a LOT of interviews where people wanted the moon and skies but were offering a barely livable wage and no benefits. You have to just weed them out, feel like you dodged a bullet, and look for the ones that are run professionally. This is them on their good behavior!!

    1. Kiki*

      >nonprofits calling my references without even talking to me first

      Yes, I’ve had this happen and it was really annoying. I’d done a 30 minute phone screen with a nonprofit and determined I wasn’t particularly interested. About 45 minutes after the phone screen I got a text from one of my references saying they’d received a call from the nonprofit (I’d been required to submit references with my resume). I feel like I “wasted” that reference and now can’t use them for a little while.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I’ve stopped applying to jobs that want references up front, partly because of nonsense like this.

        I’ve also stopped applying to jobs that want my salary preferences up front. Just, no. And recruiters that contact me with all the job info except the client name and what rate they offer get back a request for that information before I’ll talk to them further.

        1. many bells down*

          Or that want me to list past salaries. What I got paid at a receptionist job 15 or 20 years ago has zero relevance when I’m applying for a teaching position today.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          The recruiters who don’t mention the client name also tend to be the ones who see “fine china teapots” and interpret it as “industrial-sized coffee kegs”. They both hold brown liquids, right?

          1. Jadelyn*

            I am *weeping* with semi-hysterical laughter at the accuracy of this. I love getting those recruiter contacts that I’m looking at it going “…what in the name of Hell made you think I’d be any kind of match for this?”

        3. Clewgarnet*

          And recruiters that call you and say, “You’ve been specifically recommended for this role by a previous coworker,” when what they mean is, “You currently work for a company that does vaguely the same stuff.”

    2. MM*

      I think this is probably right. Most of my nonprofit jobs weren’t too weird about the hiring, but nonprofits in general put a lot of emphasis on personal commitment and culture (which is why they all have long, peppy yet overly serious statements about the organization’s purpose and all that), and it’s very often expected that you’re willing to put in lots of unpaid time and unreasonable hours For The Cause. And sometimes people are and the investment actually does make sense in terms of what the work is trying to accomplish. But for the most part, it’s just one of those all-too-common cases where people trying to change the world completely fail to apply their principles to their own actual actions and policies.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’ve had several SURPRISE!phone interviews (someone calls you out of the blue and wants you to interview right now) – though not all at nonprofits. One led to a good (though term-limited) job, oddly.

      I’ve also had a temp agency ask for the org charts of my previous employers. WTF?

    4. Zennish*

      I think the whole point of many non-profit interviews is to separate people who actually want to get paid and treated reasonably from the “true believers” (meaning those who are willing to be underpaid, ill-treated and overworked because they are contributing to the greater good, or saving the world, or whatever).

  9. Trout 'Waver*

    11. If not included with your resume, please provide your specific salary range/requirements. Please provide your specific salary requirement and/or range and please do not state “salary is negotiable”.

    They get annoyed when people think salary is negotiable. This alone tells you all you need to know.

    1. Barefoot Librarian*

      I very much think that salary *is* negotiable. I can live fairly comfortably on a spectrum when it comes to salary, and what I’m willing to accept depends on a lot of factors including cost of living in that area, work/life balance, opportunities for advancement, and non-salary benefits. Yes, there’s a bottom end (everyone has one), but it’s flexible by necessity. I’m also part of a two income household, but many people are. That also lends a degree of flexibility in salary negotiation.

      1. ArtK*

        Yup. My response is a general “An actual dollar figure is less important than the whole compensation package.” Things like 401K matching and healthcare costs are significant. Tuition reimbursement? Leave policies? All of these factor in.

          1. Lil Fidget*

            To be fair, I do state numbers with a 10K range and then this qualification. If they’re going to have the bad manners to ask your range (eye twitch) I don’t think it helps to be coy and not provide any kind of number at all.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        I will also take a lower salary depending on the rest of the benefits package, and I’m a single income household.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Exactly. If you let me work a 4×10, paid 100% of health care expenses, and had a good 401(k) match, I’ll work for half my current salary.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            I get quite a few paid holidays and a flexible schedule, which helps. Not to mention a tuition discount (I work at a state university) for myself and any spouse/dependent.

          2. Bea*

            Yes. I just took a lower salary because I was coming into employer paid benefits and quality retirement match. Whereas the last place had a high deductible healthcare plan and no match.

    2. ZSD*

      I think they meant, “Don’t just vaguely say it’s negotiable without giving us a number,” but that part of this is what truly got my goat. The whole request is outrageous, but then adding that snarky addendum just adds insult to injury.

      1. Kalamet*

        Yeah. It’s very “look at us subverting your sneaky candidate strategy”. Except that the thing they’re trying to avoid is super normal.

    3. ArtK*

      I didn’t get that deep in the questions, but yeah. They want all the advantages here. Not a company that is going to be good to work for.

      1. PlainJane*

        This. The process is completely one-sided, which tells you something pretty important about this organization.

    4. AMPG*

      Part of it might be that salary ranges for non-profits are all over the map. I applied for a program director position at a nonprofit, after coming out of similar role elsewhere, and their budget for the position was literally half of what I had been making (I had been in a higher cost of living area, but not double my new city’s). However, they mentioned the budgeted range when they contacted me about an interview, and I withdrew my candidacy politely. No big deal at all. This organization isn’t willing to do even the slightest legwork in this process, which is a huge reg flag.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        True. I not-infrequently see Executive Director salaries at 45 or 55K, which is criminally low for our (expensive, high COL) area. This may not even be with benefits, but of course they’re looking for nights and weekends, 25% travel, 12 years of experience and ability to work well with pushy obnoxious donors or board-members.

        Protip, if you as a company are offering this little, it’s really on you to be up front about that in your ad!!

        1. Goya de la Mancha*

          Honestly, I wish the companies would just list their range to begin with and save us all a lot of headache. No reason for either of us to waste time with applications/interviews if your range is 20K below my bottom without other decent benefits.

    5. mcr-red*

      Why don’t they say what they really mean? Tell us the lowest amount of salary you will accept. THAT’S what they want.

      I hate it that so many places hide what the salary they are offering is. So many weird games!

      1. OperaArt*

        A law just went into effect in California that the salary range for a given job opening must be a available to the applicants on request. Another new law—potential employers cannot ask applicants about thei salary histories.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Ironically, if you’re like me with a lot of experience, they won’t even interview you b/c they don’t want to pay what actual experienced people deserve/expect.

    6. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      We use this. Because if you don’t put that qualifier, candidates will always put “negotiable.” But when they want $140k and we’re paying $70 – no one is that negotiable, and we’ve both wasted a lot of time that could have been saved if they’d just been honest about their requirements. Please understand that when (good) recruiters are asking for wage requirements, it’s only to make sure we can meet them for you. And we’re not going to hold it against someone to put both a number AND that it’s negotiable based on total comp. But we need a number to start with.

      However, I can absolutely understand how this added in to the madness of the request as a whole will rub the wrong way.

      1. mcr-red*

        But if you’re paying $70k, why don’t you just say that? I’m sincerely curious. If you’re paying $70k, and a good candidate comes in and says, “I’m looking for something in the range of $50-60k” are you going to offer them $50k instead of the $70k you were going to pay? That’s what everyone is thinking you’re going to do, which is why they answer “negotiable.”

        1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

          If it were my decision to make, I would. I think that it’s valuable information for job seekers to have.
          Here’s some of the thought behind why we don’t:
          1. We pay our entry level employees quite well (the US quite, not the UK quite) – if we advertised this, we would be inundated with underqualified applicants and it would be harder to suss out the candidates we actually want.
          2. We have a fairly strict comp philosophy, but are willing to pay more for the perfect candidate. We don’t want to scare away great candidates who want $10-20k more than what we would pay someone else.
          3. We discuss salary during initial phone screens, what we are looking to offer as well as what total comp will look like. We don’t automatically decline candidates because their requirement is a bit higher than what we’re looking to pay. If they are asking for more than we pay it’s presented as “this is what our range is for the role, does it make sense for us to continue this conversation?”

          And no, we do not pay people less just because they are willing to take less. Like I said, we have a fairly strict comp philosophy so a role pays what it pays regardless of what someone is willing to take. Due to #1, I often get candidates who are willing to take $3-5/hr less than what my roles pay. They are always pleasantly surprised to hear what our starting rates are, and if they have experience that will go up.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        > But we need a number to start with.

        Why is the company’s need for a number to start with more important than the applicant’s need for a number to start with? I would say they’re equally important, and the company is the one that placed the ad.

        Both parties want to avoid wasting any time when the numbers are too far apart. Why not put the number (or a range) in the ad? When the company doesn’t do that, it wastes both parties’ time: the applicant has to spend time applying for a job that might be completely inappropriate, and the company has to spend time looking at resumes of people who possibly won’t even consider what the company can afford. When the company *does* put the number in the ad, it lets everyone save time instead.

        1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

          I went into more detail above, but I agree with you. If it was my call to make, I would.

      3. Barefoot Librarian*

        The hesitation most people have with putting a minimum salary, however, is that they are concerned that the employer will then offer that amount and no more. Perhaps they would have offered $68,000 for this position, but you indicate that you’d work for $50,000. Good luck getting anywhere close to the $68,000 at that point.

        Maybe that’s a bit paranoid, but there are definitely employers that would use your salary range against you.

        1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

          I totally understand that hesitation, and I think for a lot of companies that fear is probably founded. It’s not for my own company because we have a strict comp philosophy. Pay is based on a range for the role and to go above or below a certain threshold, we have to be able to justify it based on experience (or for existing employees, performance.)

          I think there’s definitely distrust on both sides of the aisle, and for companies like mine who are doing our best to be thoughtful and equitable it’s definitely frustrating to be treated with the same side-eye as companies like the LW applied to.

          PS there are also some federal (and in my case state) laws coming into effect in the next couple of years that are going to make the comp conversation even MORE important. I’m interested to see if they’re gonna come up here, and what Allison will have to say on the matter

          1. Natalie*

            I think it’s less that your getting distrust and more of a Schroedinger’s Cat situation. As an external viewer, an applicant has literally no way to know how your company handles salary bands, and even plenty of internal people might not be privy to that.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              My thoughts exactly. It doesn’t matter how good your company’s intentions are here, because interviewees can’t magically read your mind and know you’re not going to lowball them.

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            The problem is the power discrepancy. The employer is holding all the cards and has more knowledge about what they’re willing to pay than the applicant. By forcing the applicant to name the first number, they’re abusing that power and then asking for trust.

            It’s a sign of an aggressive rather than a collaborative negotiator.

  10. offonaLARK*

    Wow. I couldn’t even finish reading the questions! I LOVE to write and would find it way too much.

    1. Amber T*

      It’s just a loop of a three second clip of Jim from The Office turning and looking bemused into the camera.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      I think mine would be that gif of the octopus running along the ocean floor going Nope! Nope! Nope!

  11. Delta Delta*

    With all its bullet points (in different formats and language style), it looks like a list of questions generated by lots of different people and the compiled by one person in a cut-and-paste sort of way. I’d guess whoever is actually in charge suggested an email go out ahead of the actual interview process, and then this is the verbal casserole a committee created. Big fat nope on this organization.

  12. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Wow. Just WOW.

    I love Allison’s response but I wonder if you could also ask them if you really need to answer all (or any) of these questions, or why they think having applicants answer all these essay questions is necessary. I suppose that depends on how much you want to burn a bridge with this employer.

    1. Hildegard Vonbingen*

      Personally, I’d be more than happy to burn a bridge TO this employer. I like a nice bonfire, and I wouldn’t want to cross that bridge in their direction. Unless there was a really nice taco truck parked in front of their building…

  13. ArtK*

    Not only are the questions ridiculous at this stage, the artificial 24-hour timeline is ludicrous. What could they possibly learn about a candidate if they did or didn’t meet that deadline? It seems to assume that the candidate has time to burn on this assignment, which is a stupid assumption.

    I agree, a “K Thx Bye” response is the right move. If they’re this demanding pre-interview, what are they going to be like to work for? “What do you mean, you can’t translate 60 pages of badly written English into elegant Spanish in 8 hours?”

    1. Observer*

      They could learn how desperate someone is, and get a sense of how much hey could abuse the person.

  14. Snacks Aurelius*

    Oh but you know who they will end up hiring?

    Someone who can hire someone else to do this task instead. Seriously, I could hire someone off Craigslist to do this.

    Okay that’s not a guarantee but the employer has set it up such that the chances of the wrong person being hired are pretty high.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I was thinking, if a lot of people just bail on out of there (for a director level job, no less, where people presumably have options!) I guess somebody who submits *anything* might have a pretty low bar for competition haha.

    2. LKW*

      Agreed, people who have a high sense of self worth are going to opt out. People who are too busy- opt out. People who are really committed to the cause or really desperate – they may make the effort. Yes, they are narrowing down their candidate pool but they will likely miss out on some really good potential candidates as a result of this nonsense.

    3. Candi*

      I know who else would answer, but likely not be hired.

      People on unemployment, or in my state, unemployed and on cash assistance. They have to apply for X number of jobs. (What number depends on whether it’s UI or DSHS.)

      So they have a bunch of okay-to-great leads out, and then they get -this.

      I totally see a bunch of one-liners slapped together and sent back. That way they didn’t turn down an offer or interview, but they likely won’t get a call to come interview.

  15. Kramerica Industries*

    The only way I could see this being feasible is if this was their way of giving OP the interview questions in advance.

  16. NW Mossy*

    “Well, I think I can limit the scope of this discussion with you, an overly ambitious hiring organization, by declining the opportunity to continue chatting. Have a great day!”

  17. Gallahad*

    When I read this, I thought it was a mistake – as in the interviewer has a list of questions and circulated it to a fellow hiring member who misunderstood and gave it to an admin to send out in advance.

    I would actually see this as an opportunity to work somewhere where I could make an improvement, especially if the role is for admin / HR management. I would change the last to sentences of Alison’s response and NOT decline but write “I would like to meet with you and the hiring team in person to provide my responses to these questions. Looking forward to meeting you.”

  18. Justme, The OG*

    I had something similar, but it was a questionnaire that I was supposed to bring with me to the interview. The questionnaire was so riddled with spelling and grammar errors that it was laughable. I needed the job, so I corrected the mistakes and filled out the questionnaire. It took me longer to correct it than fill it out. Turns out it was a test to see how “detail-oriented” we were. The hiring manager was not impressed when I told him that the listing made it look like a scam posting (I guess I didn’t really need the job enough to not say that).

    1. Former Hoosier*

      Fascinating because 1. I would reconsider working for a company that sent me an error riddled document and 2. I don’t want to work for someone who tries to trick me or test me. Hiring doesn’t need to trick people but I used to work for a doctor who required applicants to send in handwritten answers to four questions. He believed that he could make assessments about people from the writing (and not even formal handwriting analysis, he just kind of thought he had magical powers).

      1. Justme, The OG*

        Yeah they totally also flaked on actually notifying anyone they hired and I saw the job posted again a few weeks later. I know I dodged a bullet there.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        OMG that sounds like a nightmare boss.

        Also, I have gotten actual fake employment scams that involved error-riddled documents, so I’d be very inclined to think it was a scam too.

  19. Ramona Flowers*

    Oh yeah! Just jot down your experience in change management in half a jiffy. What the ACTUAL WHAT.

    You do not want to work here!

  20. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

    This is ridiculous! Is there any possible way this is some sort of miscommunication between upper level of HR/hiring manager and maybe someone lower level doing the actual grunt work of communicating with candidates? Like the only thing that makes any sense to me is if High level HR person said “Send these candidates the following questions and tell them to prepare answers to all questions before the interview.” Really they meant schedule interview with these candidates and send them the list of questions to prepare to *answer in person at the interview*, but then Jr level HR person completely misunderstood.

    Even typing this out, I’m like… noooooooooo… It’s the only, even remotely charitable, explaination that I can conceive.

  21. Natalie*

    That bit about salary at the end is just *italian hand kiss gesture*. These folks clearly have a skewed view of how hiring should work.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I had the exact same reaction to the salary question! (Italian hand kiss gesture) Like the people applying for this clearly senior role are errant children who need to be scolded?

  22. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

    *snort!* Hard pass. Your time is worth more than their half-hearted consideration.

  23. hbc*

    Aside from being extremely rude, it’s just dumb. I once had a similar (smaller, less ridiculous) list of prepared interview questions get sent to my candidates by accident*. I lost so much useful information by not seeing their facial expressions, not being able to follow up on side comments that were edited from writing, not being sure if this was even their response versus a group effort with their SO/parent/friend in HR….

    *I was giving the agency a chance to interview them with my questions to see how it would go, and they misunderstood and gave them a writing assignment.

    1. Natalie*

      I probably wouldn’t actually do this, but it would be funny to pretend you thought that’s what happened here. “I’m sorry, I seem to have been forwarded a list of interview questions by mistake! I’ll go ahead and delete the email since I’m sure they are supposed to stay internal.”

      1. Barefoot Librarian*

        That’s perfect and it gets the point across that this is very strange hiring behavior!

  24. jk*

    I received one of these once after applying with my resume and a wonderful cover letter. I sat there in disbelief, wondering if they even read my cover letter or resume… I assumed not and decided that I’d never want to work at a place like that anywhere. In my trash folder it went. So insulting.

  25. Ophelia*

    I would be so tempted to write back with, “Thank you so much for expressing interest in my candidacy. I have put together a list of questions that I will need the organization to answer prior to returning your questionnaire. Please review and respond to the following by COB Tuesday.” And then list out 23 ridiculous questions of my own about everything from the nuances of office culture to how many days of leave they offer, and what last year’s health insurance packages cost t0 how they feel about the newest teapot construction standards and the decline of the saucer industry.

    1. J.B.*

      I love it! Or one word answer to each question
      my time

      or some kind of response in verse.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        My apologies in advance.

        1. If you would, please describe/explain the reasons for your career moves/job changes, including gaps of employment if applicable.
        Never have I changed jobs before.

        2. What about this opportunity at the Teapot Inc interests you at this time in your career?
        Going to Teapot conventions.

        3. How many staff have you supervised? How would you describe your management style?

        4. Please describe one specific accomplishment in your career that aligns closely with the position.
        Give it to me, I was recognized as the top publisher at my old job.

        5. Can you provide examples of your work ethic; project management, meeting timelines/ deliverables and working hour’s flexibility as needed or defined by need?
        You will never have a better employee than me.


      2. learningToCode*

        First letter of each response spells out NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP (That’s only 19, though)

    2. Lil Fidget*

      “And please state your salary range. Don’t just say ‘depends on experience,’ as I hate that … “

  26. Dovahkiin*

    Um, obv this job is banana town bonkers and their hiring is wack, but Letterwriter, if you do decide to reply with Alison’s suggested response, please, please update this thread with any follow-up you get.

  27. Casuan*

    They had my inattentiveness at “If you would.”
    They had my wtf-no-way at “within 24 hours.”

    It’s like someone took “How to Interview for Non-Profits for Clueless People 101” & put them in a questionnaire form.
    My other impression is that they’re fishing for information as opposed to wanting to actually hire someone.

    OP, I don’t think you said… Are you certain this organisation is legit?
    That 24-hours thing screams of high-pressure sales tactic.
    Or just really bad hiring personnel.
    Probably I’d reply that they must have have sent me the wrong email because what you read was out of hiring norms.

        1. Natalie*

          Have you read the “I had to cook and entertain 20 people” letter? That was an interview for Operation Smile.

          (I’ll post a link in reply)

      1. Beckie*

        Is it a government entity? I’ve seen similar questionnaires (although not nearly as long as this!) for staff positions at various city and county agencies where I live.

        1. copy run start*

          I doubt it, even government doesn’t want to wade through this garbage because someone has to sit there and read it all and score it all! At my old gov’t job, they would sometimes use essay questions to get more specific information from candidates, but it was typically limited to 3 max and clearly stated on the application so they had to be turned in with your application. I watched my boss spend 2 weeks going through and grading applications and essays for a posting once. The stack of paper (this was prior to a true online system) was over 2 feet high. Granted, most people either skipped the questions or sent in one-liners… but it was a very quick way to narrow down the field to the few people who can follow directions, write competently and who were qualified and interested enough to respond.

  28. AllDogsArePuppies*

    Am I the only one overly amused that they didn’t even keep one number style the whole way through?

    1. J.B.*

      Oh, I noticed that. A wee bit of copy paste there. The evil possibility would be to suggest process improvements and take a red pen to the questionnaire.

      The questions sound like the ones used in my org’s extremely bureaucratic interviews. But they’re interview questions (and bad enough in person)!

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        ohhhhh if I could afford to burn bridges, I would love to send the corrected version back to them!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Copy editing this into a consistent–even usable–document is the only thing warring with my “Bored now” response by the end of point 2.

  29. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

    Oooofff… One time, after an initial interview, I was asked to write a one page essay on why I wanted this role/to work for this company. At least it was after an initial interview, and communications skills (including being able to communicate in writing) were important for the role, but I mean, it was an administrative assistant role – not a role solely focused on writing.

    Something about it just really rubbed me the wrong way – I think it was specifying that it had to be one page? It just took me back to high school – I felt the urge to starting quibbiling. Do you have a preferred margin size? What size font is acceptable? May I use Comic Sans? Is a cover page required? What if I need more than a single page? I knew the fact that those questions were bubbling up meant that this was a big old “nope!”

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Also that’s kind of a childish question for them to ask. I’d be much better at an essay that related to the type of work I’d be doing, not a subjective “pretty please with a cherry on top” type question.

  30. Kalamet*

    OP, I’d be passing if they’d just sent question 1. It’s weird and invasive, and I’ve never interviewed anywhere that expected an explanation for ALL of my job moves, let alone before the phone interview!

    Run, don’t walk.

    1. LKW*

      I had to document my job history and any employment gaps for a work visa to another country. They were polite enough to not ask me why I changed jobs (or was not working).

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Right? The only time I’ve had to document and justify (and that only with brief, not-even-complete-sentence explanations) every job and non-working period I’ve had was when I was applying for securities licensing! And that was just like “Sept 04-May 08 not working, full time college student” type stuff.

  31. Goya de la Mancha*

    I once had to write a short essay AFTER my interview (as in they gave it to me at the interview to email by the next day), but this is just an asinine request.

  32. Letter Writer*

    Thanks for posting and your response. It reaffirmed what my gut instinct was telling me, a hard no. I’m not sure if its too late to respond, Wednesday will make it two weeks since my return.

    1. Casuan*

      Please respond, Letter Writer, with some version of Alison’s script.
      You might be doing future job hunters a favour!
      At the least, it will be good that you told them such an invasive pre-interview task is NOT OKAY.

      1. A Person.*

        Seconded – if you don’t plan to move forward with your application there, it can’t hurt to tell them why not. Allison’s proposed script seems very polite and to the point. Whether they take it to heart is up to them.

          1. Letter Writer*

            Alison response is perfect. She was able to articulate all of my random thoughts about the situation

            1. Deja Vu*

              Hi Letter Writer,

              I completed this exact questionnaire a couple of years ago (I double-checked my e-mail and the questionnaire I filled out for a membership director position is word for word the exact same as yours). I’m assuming this association is in DC and the acronym for the association is all vowels? If so, HR warned me during my interview that the hiring manager does not get along well with his employees and that there is a lot of turnover in that position. I was rejected and for me, it was a bullet dodged. I ended up with a great job that I love and my boss has reasonable expectations of her staff and potential employees. Good luck in your job search- I know you’ll find something great!

              1. Letter Writer*

                Well the plot thickens. And yep you’re right about the org. Did you complete this questionnaire before interviewing? Not that it matters but I wonder if it’s the same hiring manager

                1. Deja Vu*

                  I did complete the questionnaire before the interview. I think it’s probably the same hiring manager, but I can’t say that with absolute certainty. It’s definitely the same organization though as you mentioned below. It’s a small world!

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Y’all should feel totally free to name the organization here if you want. That’s how we found out about Operation Smile’s insanity a few years ago.

  33. DQ*

    I would fight the urge to respond with “I think you must have attached the wrong file. These look like in-person interview questions. I’ll wait to receive the correct pre-interview questionnaire. Thanks!”

  34. Pollygrammer*

    iii. Do you have experience, and how comfortable are you leading committee discussion?
    iv. Please provide example(s) where you’ve had to guide discussions without taking control.
    v. Please provide example(s) where you’ve had to reign in overly ambitious participants, without limiting the scope of discussion.

    Translation: this committee is going to suuuuuck

      1. Narise*

        And ‘We have three participants that won’t retire and won’t relinquish the floor but you can’t ask them not to come or participate.’

    1. Lil Fidget*

      hehehe thought the same thing. translation: “we are garbage people and the committee is a trashcan fire. please send help.”

  35. Employment Lawyer*

    Treat it like an accident. “I was sent the attached list. It seems like these are interview questions; you presumably wouldn’t expect me me to write 23 essay answers at this stage….” etc

    If it was an error they’ll catch it, and if not, you’ll move on.

  36. Jaybeetee*

    This is actually something you can see for government jobs – for external job postings, there can be rather lengthy questionnaires, with appropriate answers requiring anywhere from a few sentences to a paragraph or two. Usually the application deadline is awhile off though, so you can slowly do chunks of it before you have to submit it. Even then, that was always my least favourite aspect of job hunting in that sector – I *hate* those questionnaires.

    Every now and then you see a job listing with a questionnaire and a very short deadline, like 24 hours. The unspoken code seems to be that in those cases, they have their eye on an internal candidate, but are obliged to post the job publicly as well, so they’re deliberately trying to get few applicants. I live in a city where for most part everyone either works for government or works for industries connected to government, so they can get away with murder in terms of their hiring process.

    So, for this non-profit position, I’m wondering if they’re really THAT clueless about hiring (especially at the director level – usually you see this nonsense for entry-level jobs where you have young inexperienced people willing to go through the crap to get hired)…or if they don’t particularly want external candidates, but a Board of Directors (or others) are compelling them to recruit?

    1. A Person.*

      I see this a lot in government hiring where I am too. I’ve been on both ends; I know how frustrating it is to weed through over a hundred applications where everyone clicks “yes” to the screening questions but maybe ten have the required skills and experience. But it’s really frustrating to have to answer a dozen essay questions just to be allowed to submit an application!

      I think there can be a happy medium, 3-5 short answer questions is more reasonable than spending hours answering essay questions where they already have an internal candidate in line and are just posting the job because they have to.

      I’ve gotten to the point where I assume if they’re making it that hard to apply, don’t bother, they either already have someone lined up or they are a bunch loons I don’t want to work for.

      1. PlainJane*

        Occasionally I see postings that ask you to address a few specified questions in your cover letter. That seems reasonable to me. It doesn’t require extra work (you’re still going to have to write a cover letter), and it can actually make writing the letter easier b/c it gives you some information about what they want to know. But the huge questionnaires are obnoxious.

        1. please*

          I got an internship once that asked me to respond to 3 or 4 specific questions in my cover letter. That sort of guidance was nice.

        2. A Person.*

          Asking for information in the cover letter is very reasonable. However, our local government hiring procedures require standardized question and answers for all applicants to be reviewed to ensure fairness; maybe this non profit does the same. But still, I see absolutely no reason for over a dozen essay questions!

  37. M*

    Is there any chance they meant to attach a smaller screening questionnaire but instead attached the interview questions? It might be worth confirming with something like, “Did you need responses to all 23 questions before the interview?” or “Since this is a list of interview questions, I just wanted to make sure this was what you wanted me to respond to in writing?”

    1. Letter Writer*

      I wonder if I could incorporate these questions with the script. But it probably wouldn’t make any difference at this point. I don’t plan on moving forward

  38. Interviewer*

    I would reach out for a quick call to confirm that indeed, the hiring manager expects written answers – using my best polite yet incredulous tone, of course. I might suggest that this type of information is best relayed during an interview. I could mention that this would take a fair bit of time to give the answers thoughtful and careful preparation. I would ask who reviews the answers and selects candidates – the recruiter? the hiring manager? an interview panel? Maybe I would suggest that I was surprised to get a request like this, ahead of a phone screen. I might even ask questions like, “Twenty three questions? Really?”

    This conversation – again, very polite – would be aimed at getting them to think through – out loud, with a candidate – how utterly insane their process appears to the outside world.

    Frankly, OP, I don’t think you want to pursue a role with a company who would ask anyone to do this. But at least you’d be getting solid confirmation that there’s no misunderstanding, and yes, they’re expecting you to jump at the chance to do this for them.

    And the next day, I would email them declining to go further in the process, using AAM’s language. At least they could finally connect the dots for themselves, on why they have so few candidates for their opening.

  39. Natalie*

    Can you provide examples of your work ethic; project management, meeting timelines/ deliverables and working hour’s flexibility as needed or defined by need?

    In other words, how much can we expect to overwork you? Flexibility only goes one way, too.

    1. Spider*

      If the entire questionnaire were ONLY this one question, I’d still bail, because answering that legitimately could take at least 5-10 pages by itself, and uggghhh, ain’t nobody got time for that.

    2. This Daydreamer*

      “Well I’ve spent the past twelve hours answering more questions in essay form than I’ve had to since college. What more do you want?”

  40. The Sassy One*

    Oh boy I hope OP responds with Alison’s verbiage and reports back if they send anything juicy back….based on these initial interview questions, I don’t doubt they would get a long response about the validity of their methods.

  41. wayward*

    Curious how many applicants who actually filled this out would write original answers instead of copy-pasting from somewhere on the internet.

  42. Undine*

    FROM: Action Will be Taken, by Heinrich Böll 1954

    Question No. 1: Do you consider it right for a human being to possess only two arms, two legs, eyes, and ears?

    Here for the first time I reaped the harvest of my pensive nature and wrote without hesitation: “Even four arms, legs and ears would not be adequate for my driving energy. Human beings are very poorly equipped.”

    Question No. 2: How many telephones can you handle at one time?

    Here again the answer was as easy as simple arithmetic: “When there are only seven telephones,” I wrote, “I get impatient; there have to be nine before I feel I am working to capacity.”

    Question No. 3: How do you spend your free time?

    My answer: “I no longer acknowledge the term free time – on my fifteenth birthday I eliminated it from my vocabulary, for in the beginning was the act.”

  43. Kiki*

    I work for a nonprofit that is hiring for a Director role right now. This post makes me appreciate our wonderful search consultant and hiring committee. I want to buy them all a cake that says “Thank you for not sucking at hiring”.

  44. Tea Time*

    Oh my word…

    Honestly, what kind of hiring manager would even want to read through all of those essays for EVERY SINGLE APPLICANT? This just seems ridiculous all the way around.

    And for the record OP, I bristle whenever job applications require anything more than my resume and a cover letter, and the majority of them don’t.

  45. Irene Adler*

    Of course this is asinine.

    If I had the time: I’d be inclined to answer them with paragraph after paragraph gloriously detailing my experiences, skill set, compensation request, management style, relevant examples, etc. such that they’d have to wade through multiple pages for each response just to find their requested answers. Make it as painful an experience as I can for them.

    Sure, they’d probably just toss my application aside.

    It would be interesting to find out how the hired candidate tackled this. And what the in-person interview was like.
    “Gee, I think I answered that one. Please refer back to my response to question 4.”

  46. Hey Karma, Over here.*


    And I have received an application like that. It was a 10 page booklet filled with questions about my work history. And I filled it out. Over the TWO WEEKS before the SCHEDULED interview, because we’d had a phone interview where we determined that I was a top candidate and I really wanted the job.
    So yeah, I’ll fill out your application.

    If they wanted this every applicant, put it on the website and let people opt out instead of wondering if they themselves are out of touch (you aren’t btw.)

  47. user4231*

    I actually received something similar several years ago and spent 2 days working on answers. Now I can’t believe I was so naive. They didn’t even invite me to an interview.

    Several months ago I was sent a link to online tests which were to take 2.5 h to complete. So even before checking that my salary expectations were acceptable they wanted me to invest 2.5 h of my time. I passed.

    1. Just Peachy*

      I don’t know if this is more common in the medical field, but my husband just had to take a survey (that took approximately 2 hours) when applying at a hospital last week. It was one of the kinds where you mark strongly agree/agree/neither/disagree/strongly disagree. The last question of the survey was “I answered this survey honestly.” Like, does anyone actually think that a person who DIDN’T answer honestly would admit it at the end? Haha.

      1. DMLT*

        Pretty sure I filled out that same application a few months ago. It was a hospital, and the final question was the same. Bunch of stupid logic questions about fish, too.

  48. Buffy Summers*

    Dear OP,
    Please do respond to this with the script provided and come back with an update – I’d love to know if they respond to it and how. They may not – they probably won’t, in fact, but I can still hope, right?

  49. RVA Cat*

    I think the nutjob who made candidates cook a meal for 20 people came up with when told to “take it down a notch.”

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Maybe someone got burnt and this way there’s no workers’ comp potential!

  50. oldbiddy*

    Back in 2010 I applied for a job at a Bay Area startup company backed y Peter Thiel. They sent me an email asking me to answer the following “personality test” questions. I was pretty surprised, since it’s not typical in my industry (chemistry research)

    Needless to say, they are no longer in business.

    “Along with the signed NDA, we ask candidates to answer the following seven questions by email. Answer with the first thing that comes to mind; this is just to get the discussion started:”

    1. What are you best at?
    2. What are you worst at?
    3. How would you spend ten billion dollars?
    4. What are your goals?
    5. What is your favorite movie, and why?
    6. What is your favorite book, and why?
    7. If you had to name one thing, what is the biggest misperception people have of you, and why?

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Ooh dear. To me, this shows that they don’t know how to hire well for the positions they have. I could see including ONE jokey ice breaker type question (and I wouldn’t love that, but I’m Miss No Fun so I get that others are more fun) by FIVE, I’m saddling up the nopetopus.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        1) I can BS like nobody’s business.
        2) underwater welding.
        3) on a secret lair in a volcano.
        4) hockey nets
        5) Ferris Bueller, reminds me of being young.
        6) Duh, Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.
        7) that my name is important

      2. oldbiddy*

        Those questions seemed to be screening for ‘coolness’/fit with existing bro culture. They weren’t a large company so it was pretty random to do this at an early stage, or at all. I sent in my answers (some serious, some not) and didn’t hear back from them for a while until they emailed me and asked if I could refer any candidates for the position.
        I had another series of interviews with a different startup company at the same time, and they did a phone interview followed by a few written questions very relevant to the job, followed by an onsite interview (I was not local). The difference between the two experiences was night and day.

    2. SallytooShort*

      Tailored to Peter Thiel’s interests:
      1. What are you best at? Conceiving, plotting, and enacting elaborate revenge schemes.
      2. What are you worst at? Forgiveness.
      3. How would you spend ten billion dollars? Taking down Gawker Media.
      4. What are your goals? To taste the tears of my enemies.
      5. What is your favorite movie, and why? Sleeping Beauty. Malifecent is my role model.
      6. What is your favorite book, and why? How to Make Friends and Influence People.
      7. If you had to name one thing, what is the biggest misperception people have of you, and why? IDK but they’ve paid for their folly.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Bahahahahaha! Though… considering that it’s Peter Thiel I’d think the favorite book would be Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead or something…

    3. Antilles*

      we ask candidates to answer the following seven questions by email. Answer with the first thing that comes to mind;
      Do they not understand how email works? I don’t even know how it’s possible to “answer the first thing that comes to mind” given that you probably read the entire email before even starting to compose a reply, so you had plenty of time to think of your response. Besides, it’s not like they would know.

    4. Candi*

      1. Reading, with seeing patterns a close second. Like the pattern I’m seeing with these questions.
      2. Patience. But I can fake it. Like now.
      3. Spend!?! I’m looking up a good accountant!
      4. A comfy life and a job that I’m okay with. Which might not be this one.
      5. Which category? Fantays, sci-fi, comic books, history…
      6. See 5.
      7. That I don’t pay attention. I’m paying enough attention to wave good from waaaayyyy over there. Bye.

  51. Peggy*

    When I was still in academia, I had one prospective department require everyone in the first round interview stage to write a “state of the field” essay before our interviews. We were given 12 days to do it, with the essay due Dec. 24. I thought that was extremely callous – it’s a crazy busy time of year for anyone teaching college level classes, all the more if they have Christmas or Hanukkah preparations/celebrations, family visiting, travel, etc.
    It completely ruined my holiday (and birthday, which also fell in that window), since it was a demanding piece of high-stakes writing that you can’t just knock out in a few hours. And at that, it was still less unreasonable than the employer in this letter!

  52. Evan*

    You have to be really careful with this. As a writer, I avoid this type of situation. There are far too many instances where people will use this situation to obtain work for free. You then never hear from them again. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…in other words, follow your intuition!

    1. Lil Fidget*

      To be fair, with these questions I don’t see a huge risk of that. If it was something more applicable to their on the ground work, *maybe.* I seem to hear about this situation most in the design and webdesign fields.

  53. Newt*

    Not only is this a huge lack of respect for your time, it’s a huge waste of your time, too.

    Because this early in the application process? There is no way the hiring manager is actually intending to read all, or even a significant majority of, your answers, or even of most of the applications they receive.

    Even if this drove away the vast majority of potential applicants and the position ended up with just 10 people vying for the position? There’s no way they’re going to have the time to read all that, and given they apparently can’t be bothered to go through the effort of interviewing you by phone or in person first, no way they’ll have the motivation.

    Which means that what this really is, is an exercise in time-wasting. They’re happy to encourage you to literally throw hours of your life in the trash before you even know if the job is one you’re truly invested in, and the content of the questions is extremely telling.

    This is a company that will have zero respect for your time or your energy. Which is the last thing you want when they’re potentially going to be setting your working schedule and daily tasks.

    1. MissDissplaced*

      This is very normal for federal government jobs. Especially the first 8 or so. And yes, you are expected to write them at the time of the application. Most of the time you don’t even get an interview! So yes our federal government wastes a lot of people’s time let alone respecting it!
      But THIS isn’t even a FedJob. Ugh!

  54. Midge*

    Alison had a great response to a question a while ago where an employer had some ridiculous demand for their soon-to-be ex-employee. It was something like, “They can ask. And you can laugh, and laugh, and laugh and not do it.” That’s how I feed about this interviewer’s request.

  55. Teal*

    I really hope someone from that organization sees this post. But then, if they read AAM they wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

  56. Student*

    I can’t help but wonder how they’ll “score” the essays they do get. Will it go to the person who writes the longest entries? The shortest entries? Are there two questions they care a lot about and 21 questions they don’t really care about at all? Will anyone read the answers at all? It’s hard enough to get my colleagues to read a 2-page resume (or, if we’re being honest, a 2-sentence email), so I can’t imagine trying to get them to read something like this.

  57. StarHunter*

    I’m a membership director at a nonprofit. No. Just no. No essays to write before my interview and then not even this intense questioning during the interview process. Ack!

      1. StarHunter*

        I figured it was for a Membership Dir position. The questions they posed, even if it was for an interview were way over the top. Hopefully your next potential interview will be with a more normal org :-) Good luck!

  58. Just Peachy*

    The sad thing is that (while totally appropriate for OP to respond the way Alison suggests), the interviewer may very well be appalled that a candidate would refuse to answer the questions and remove them self from consideration. I’m always amazed at how disrespectful interviewers are to candidates’ time; ESPECIALLY in this case when the OP won’t even be interviewed (!) before she fills it out.

  59. strangerontheearth*

    My goodness, that is bizarre!

    I just had a strange experience. Found a house on Craiglist, a rent-to-own deal. The rent was listed. It said “includes insurance and taxes for the sale.” I emailed the poster. She wrote back and in all caps told me she needed my phone number. Then she was all, Do you have proof of your income? How much money do you intend to put down? We’ll rent it to the person who has the biggest down payment or the person we feel is the best fit.

    Nowhere did she state the sale price for the home. Said she’ll send me the address by the end of the week. ??

    Sorry, lady, you’re not getting my phone number when I don’t even know the address of the property…Oy vey…

    1. Candi*

      She might just be really inexperienced, but… it kind of puts me in mind of people who rent or sell the same residential property to several people -and it’s likely not theirs to do so with. Then they skip town while several people are left trying to figure out what happened.

      Maybe I’m just suspicious.

  60. Sus*

    Seems like employers are getting more and more demanding, last week I had to make a video of myself answering similar questions and, for another company, give a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation on why I should be hired.

    1. Candi*

      A lot of them haven’t figured out yet the recession (in most places) is running for the woods. They still think there’s ridiculous amount of weight on the buyer’s side of the scales, instead of the more standard weight.

  61. Leela*

    I’m actually copying and pasting these in a file for myself to save as interview prep (not in marketing but translating the questions into what I’d be asked is easy enough) because these are INTERVIEW questions. I’ve worked in hiring for some powerfully bad hiring managers, or even recruiting/HR managers, but I’ve never had someone insist that a candidate we haven’t even spoken to yet conduct the interview on her own time for us and then send it off and even if we did and they complied, there’s no way we’re going to spend the time to do what’s basically an interview for every single person that crosses our path with any amount of interest at all. This is insanity and it makes me wonder if people who do the hiring ever bother to look into how they do their jobs and whether what they’re doing is a good idea.

  62. verbal*

    Last Friday afternoon I got an email asking for a three-question response/writing sample… within 48 hours. I told them I’d get back to them within two business days, and sent the completed form in on Monday morning. I expect I won’t hear back.

    On the plus side, I now get to log both the initial application and the useless essay as part of my minimum required number of “job-seeking attempts” while doing my weekly groveling for my unemployment insurance.

    Seeking employment is miserable and dehumanizing.

  63. Friday Night*

    For the Canadian astronaut application – there were about 63 mini-essays on the application form, and the applicants had 3 months to do it – which works out to less than 1 polished block of writing a day. Given the number of applicants who applied who were baseline qualified for that job, I totally understand why those short answer questions were on the astronaut application.

    Assuming that you’re not applying for a job as an astronaut, there are very few other jobs that I think are justified in asking for that level of pre-interview commitment. Throw in the 1 day turn around time – I would say none.

  64. Observer*

    Alison, I think you are giving these people too much credit. You are assuming that they expect this to save them time, but I don’t think that they have actually bothered to THINK about this at all. This is a blazing red flag. It’s possible that it’s just a terrible hiring person / department. But if this is any indication of how they operate in any other sphere, this is CrazyTown.

  65. KayEss*

    I worked for a while at a religious-affiliated university where, shortly after I was hired, they revamped their hiring process to include questions on the application about how prospective candidates would support and contribute to the religious mission of the school, and a mandatory interview with the religious director. For ALL positions, from janitor through tenure-track faculty.

    Pretty much everyone I knew there vocally agreed that they would not even have applied if they had encountered the new process. The STEM faculty, in particular, were livid–they knew it would be next to impossible to attract anything resembling top-tier colleagues with the new application in place. But the changes were part of a pet project by the president, religious director, and (very religious, as in “we should just outright give preference in hiring to members of X religion, despite the fact that we have a notably large student population of Y religion”) legal/compliance director, so they got shoved through.

    Non-standard application questions only limit your candidate pool, and frequently not in a beneficial way.

  66. Jessica*

    I recently got through a phone interview, all day interview and lunch, and test assignments, for a very low-paying /art cultural start-up who then asked my three references to fill out a similar excessive written questionnaire about me. In the end, I didn’t get the job, it is still unfilled months later, and I had to profusely apologize to and thank my references for having to make so much effort. I am now in the process of interviewing for a much higher paying position at a larger organization and the experience has been a breeze. Successful employers know how to value employees, even prospective ones.

  67. Nonnon*

    “Dear [Hiring Manager]

    I was unable to complete your absurd request because I was laughing so hard that I fell off my chair and had to spend most of the 24 hours you gave me to complete the questions down A&E.

    Yours, [OP].”

  68. Bea*

    I almost didn’t even do the prescreen assessment for my current job because it was a “lol wut?” moment. I was right about it being a buffer to eliminate people not interested enough once I was hired and it came up in discussion with my boss.

  69. Rebecca*

    I work for a state government. Questions like these are a regular part of the application process. Although, the most I’ve ever seen is 9. The turnaround is usually 13 days or less. Many jobs also require a power point presentation at the actual interview.

  70. Radio Girl*

    Totally agree with Alison’s response. This is one of the most ridiculous HR moves ever.

    I wouldn’t bother, OP. This tactic is not a good sign.

    Love Alison’s suggested response.

  71. Deja Vu*

    Omg. These questions looked familiar. I went through some old e-mails and I received this exact same questionnaire two years ago at an association I applied to for a membership director position. I completed the questions and had interviews with HR and the hiring manager. I have never been so glad to be rejected from a job before. You know a hiring manager has issues when HR starts the interview by warning you about the hiring manager and how he treats his employees.

    1. Candi*

      They’ve been doing this for two years!?!

      Now I’m really wondering if it was the same place as the August 2016 post. (Linked above.)

      1. Deja Vu*

        Nope. I didn’t write in two years ago, but I suppose someone else could have written in about the same questionnaire. HR told me that they were constantly interviewing for the position due to high turnover.

  72. Clemintines*

    You will have more luck polishing a turd than 23 answers to this monstrosity. This seems dated to me?

  73. Cute Li'l UFO*

    I had this happen during my hunt last year. I submitted an application, radio silence, and then 17 days later on a rainy Friday afternoon I got a message that required me to do a take-home test to move forward in the process. It was a 48 hour turnaround time and after having some smoke come out of my ears I decided to let it sit. I wasn’t very invested in this and the way that it got dumped on me (I had to go back and see when I’d even applied) left a sour taste in my mouth.

    It’s not all that uncommon to do some kind of test in graphic/visual design, depending on the role, but other companies that did ask that I do some kind of test got in touch with me to discuss parameters and to confirm I still wished to go forward.

    Plus, who dumps that on you on a three-day weekend?

    1. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Forgot to mention that I ended up writing back on Monday that I would be withdrawing my candidacy. I couldn’t put too much faith in a company that treated applicants like that.

  74. MissDissplaced*

    I’ve been asked about 6-8 of these on an application for a government job, which I thought was pretty excessive until saw this!

  75. Yet Even Another Alison*

    Letter writer – yes, this is ridiculous. News flash employers – this is not 2008, 2009 or 2010. Good people are not necessarily going to go through these types of “assignments” to get a job. Especially people with options – and thankfully more people have them these days. Unless this is the employer that you have always wanted to work for and you know this is your dream job – my thought is – move on.

  76. I am Fergus*

    I had a recruiter, let’s say who didn’t speak english and not from america, who wanted me to add to my resume everything I ever did with computers and go back as far as possible. This was in ’12. I told him I don’t even want to write it and who the f@ck would want to read it. I hung up on the retard.

  77. This Daydreamer*

    Hmm. Would I just cut and paste from random Wikipedia articles or go for pure nonsense?

    “Mountain pie methodologies utilize multiple gilded taffeta modulation centers, requiring use of rabbit harps and purple systemic mythologies.”

  78. shrug*

    Am I the only one who thinks this was put together by the Board, with each member contributing their own questions? And the Board then handed frankenstein.doc over to some poor junior admin to send out.

    Because I can actually see how that could happen, espcially if all their previous Directors have been internal promotions. If this is the first time (ever?) that the org was hiring external candidates for a senior role, and so it seemed “natural” to let the Board + ED be the hiring committee.

    Except the Board + ED don’t have any hiring manager or HR experience, and are also too senior to be told that they’re being giant weirdos about it. But then, that weirdness could have been going on for years, because job candidates don’t really feel they have standing to say “oh my goodness, this is NOT how it’s done, you’re being giant weirdos, knock it off!”

  79. Kirk Tentaprice*

    Scene : [Hiring Manager’s office. Hiring Manager seated at desk. Enter HR representative.]

    HR : Here are the completed questionnaires we received.
    [Hands HM stack of papers]
    HM : Any strange or funny answers in there?
    HR : Oh no. We took those out of the pile.
    [HM throws stack into bin]
    HM : Bring me the ones you took out. And any who wrote back refusing to answer. I’m looking for someone who’ll point it out to me when I’m being unreasonable.

  80. LK*

    I once had a job where after submitting custom writing samples to get the interview, and sitting through a 2.5 hour interview (which they did not tell me would take that long), at the conclusion of the interview they gave me 24 hours to submit 3 new custom marketing pieces to their prompts. Then they told me the first one was not attuned to their prompt properly.

    My day job had an annual event that night and I had a bunch of PR appearances. I had to stay up absurdly late to do this.

    I ended up getting offered the job, leaving my job to take it, and it was a disaster – everything about the job was a bigger version of the red flags in the hiring process – tons of work with almost no notice, unclear communication about requirements. I left in 4 months, the shortest I have ever been at a job (it was a director-level position). Looking back on those red flags, I now see I shouldn’t have taken these jobs.

  81. boop the first*

    Okay, so um…

    In the world of retail/hospitality, where we are applying for jobs that we hate for minimum wage, it is not unusual to have to do a 45 minute (not an exaggeration) online questionnaire containing many pages of repeating agree/disagree type questions. They are also terrible questions whose purpose seems to be to weed out any applicants who may have any degree of mental illness.
    Example: “I feel confident about our future!”
    Another example: “I’m an optimistic person who smiles all of the time.”

    Honestly I would find it refreshing to get a questionnaire that is actually useful/relevant, and of course, toward a goal that doesn’t end in poverty. If the goal is to get fewer (and more desperate) applicants, well, it works!

  82. Greg*

    I think a lot of the companies that do this think of it as a screening device: “Anyone who really wants to work here will jump through our hoops.” The problem is that it’s an incredibly blunt, misguided screening device. You will exclude plenty of otherwise good candidates who don’t feel like doing all that work before they’ve even been invited to interview (or who correctly view with suspicion any company that would ask them to). And you may end up with more of the truly desperate who are willing to do whatever is asked.

    A good screening device attracts the type of candidates you want and excludes those you don’t. (For example, Teapot Inc. asking applicants to tell you in their cover letter about their all-time favorite teapots. It amazes me how many companies fail to grasp this obvious truth.)

  83. SubbyP*

    “1. Please
    2. roll
    3. this
    4. questionnaire
    5. into
    6. a
    7. tube
    8. and
    9. stick
    10. it
    a. directly
    11. into
    12. your
    i. nostril.”

  84. Paula*

    Overall, my opinion is that these are very good questions to ask in an interview for a management position. They are valid questions measuring exactly what they are sensed to measure: the competencies of what an excellent manager suppose to have, including writing.
    I agree they suppose to spend a lot of time answering it (they are focusing indeed on job details), and I don’t think that a lot of potential candidates will answer them, so no worries about the HR staffing people. As a selection interviewer you want to ensure that you don’t spend a lot of employer’s money with not reliable candidates.
    In other words, this it is an invitation to say: If you are good enough for this position, demonstrate me.
    Imagine if you were asked these questions in a face-to-face interview, without being prepared or having not enough time to reflect, what would will be your chances to get the job?
    I have posted for external processes within the federal government many times. For a clerk position only, I had to answer plenty of questions with detailed scenarios about my previous related job experience in an online selection system process before submitting the request (the answers were deleted if you wouldn’t submit the form for all of the questions in one enter, so not possible to save them in the system). Also, I knew that the interview will not be the next step in the selection process, but other three or four selection tests within the public commission, before, again, waiting to be withdrawn from the selection pool to get an interview with the manager who posted the position.

    So, my conclusion is that having to deal with a very competitive selection market, with demanding employers and high prepared candidates, we must be prepared for writing down answers to ‘’Tuff questions’’ like these if we do really want to be selected in the process, even though it seems to be silly or offensive .

  85. Chris Hogg*

    Sounds like an offshoot of the Topgrading process (which I would not do in a million years).

    And seriously, is there any real job anywhere that would justify this as the first step following an application in the hiring process?

    Run, Tim, run.

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