why are so many job interviewers terrible?

Employers generally agree that having well-qualified employees is a crucial part of whether or not their businesses thrive – so you might think it follows that they’d put real effort in to how they hire. But inexplicably, many employers give minimal or no training at all to the staff who interview their job applicants and take a remarkably disorganized and chaotic approach to how they assess and select new hires.

It’s hard to imagine businesses giving such little managerial oversight to any other area so key to their success, but for some reason, companies routinely just wing it when it comes to how they hire people.

I wrote about this for Slate today. You can read it here.

{ 242 comments… read them below }

    1. Amber Rose*

      Seriously, I’d have responded in exactly the same way as the person who wrote about it. What the heck.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        That question was so intrusive, to say the least. I like the way the candidate answered it!

        1. irene adler*

          “Gee, I killed a man once, for asking me some completely ridiculous questions during an interview. But I don’t think you are the person I should confide that to.”

    2. Artemesia*

      I love the response given. I actually had someone ask ‘can you remember the most embarrassing thing that every happened to you?’ I said ‘yes.’ And the person actually pressed me to tell them. I said ‘it was embarrassing, I am certainly not going to further the embarrassment by reliving it.’ Seriously?????

      1. Doug Judy*

        I was asked this too once! I said “Well, I am incredibly clumsy, so I embarrass myself regularly to the point that I no longer care or get embarrassed.” Which is true. It also has zero to do with a job, unless they are trying to vet how well someone brushes things off, but there are much better job related ways to find that out.

      2. Empty Sky*

        How is that an appropriate topic for a job interview? Do they really expect people to answer honestly?

        “Let’s see. That would be the time when my parents walked in on me masturbating when I was 13. Man, that was embarrassing! Why do you ask?”

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      I was really impressed by the interviewee’s ability to think of that response on the fly. I would not have had such a good answer so quickly.

    4. PB*

      No kidding! Did they think that by couching it with “Who would you tell?” that it would trick you into answering?

      “Let’s see, if I had to confess, I think I’d tell my sister. And I killed a man.”

      I mean… how would that go down?

      1. Trek*

        Exactly..Trying to picture their response to : I’m secretly a sociopath and still deciding who to tell. Probably the first FBI agent who questions me about the bodies. I mean really what are they looking for?

    5. Quake Johnson*

      “The interviewer was flustered by my response…” Um, why? That was technically the only way to answer that question! Unless they actually expected every single candidate to say “Well obviously the person I would confide in is you, you total stranger, here’s what I did…”

      1. PABJ*

        I would go with “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you”, said in an obviously joking manner.

    6. TardyTardis*

      I’d have to say, “I don’t think the United States Air Force would like it if it did.” And then shut up. (Veterans could definitely have fun with that question).

  1. Amber Rose*

    I would be an elm tree. Why you ask? What, you don’t be-leaf me?

    /is immediately blacklisted for all jobs

    1. irene adler*

      What information is gleaned from knowing what kind of tree the candidate selects? You can’t possibly ascribe character attributes to tree type… can you?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Sure – if you reach for it.
        Elm or Oak – shade trees, you cover people.
        Fruit or nut tree – you provide valuable assets.
        Evergreen – you’re always at your best.
        Palm tree – you’d rather be on vacation.

        It’s like dream interpretation, bring your own spin!

        (Also I was asked this question once in an actual interview. I have no idea what I said because I was too busy thinking this person at this Fortune 100 company just asked me for real what tree I’d be.)

        1. irene adler*

          Okay… alternatively…

          Elm or Oak – shade trees, you cover people.–> or you are prone to disease
          Fruit or nut tree – you provide valuable assets–> or you are a fruit or nut
          Evergreen – you’re always at your best–> or you lack creativity or are disinterested in change.
          Palm tree – you’d rather be on vacation.–> or you house rodents

          I’m more of a crape myrtle. So what’s an interviewer going to do with that?

          1. Pam*

            When I lived in Florida, I found out that crape myrtles there are bushes, rather than trees as they are in California.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              I’d say poisonwood and let them make of it what they will. Or maybe mesquite?

        2. Amber Rose*

          I don’t want to be a tree at all. They grow slowly and are rooted in place.

          I wonder if I could get away with that answer.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          Sorry late, but I have to.
          I would be a maple – strong, pretty and sweet. That’s me! Can you handle that, interviewer? ;)

      2. PB*

        I think the idea is that it’s supposed to demonstrate candidates’ ability to think creatively. But you could also ask questions about the job and get a more meaningful answer.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I have a degree in forestry yet I work in a wholly unrelated field. I LIVE for the day someone asks me what kind of tree I would be, because not only do I have an answer, but I can sing the answer (we made up a lot of songs in forestry classes; college classes taught almost entirely in the woods get weird and are too much fun). Also, I would give the botanical name, which would most definitely throw them off.

    3. Almost a Retiree*

      That old chestnut. It’s a question from a 1980s Barbara’s Walters interview with Kathryn Hepburn. Hepburn compared herself to a tree — strong and firmly rooted. Walters asked the natural follow up — what kind of tree are you? Question has gone on to be enshrined in the Inept Reporter Hall Of Fame. Unfairly I might add.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Why is that an inept follow-up question though?!

        Anytime I’ve been in a job where dead air is treated like a serious crime, it’s always been better to ask a stupid question when someone says something mindbogglingly strange while you think of a way to regroup and redirect than it would be to just stair at them like “The f#ck is that supposed to mean…?” o_O

      1. Elizabeth W.*

        My go-to was a mallorn tree, because if they knew what that was, then I would know I was dealing with a true nerd and we’d get along fine. But I’m stealing this one!

  2. seller of teapots*

    I recently went through an arduous round of interviews to find and hire a new class of 15 sales reps. I’d never done much interviewing before, and man it’s hard! By the end I felt much better at about my skills as an interviewer, but I suspect most folks don’t have that kind of crash-course in interviewing. Depending on your role, you might only interview for one position, every 6 months or so. Maybe that’s part of the reason some people are so bad at it!

    I settled on a good rotation of questions that I felt gave me a good sense of the candidates, but the real test is 4 months from now when the dust settles and it’s clear what kind of team we’ve hired. I always struggled with second interviews, though, as I’d already asked them so many questions. Anyone have insight?I promise *not* to ask about deep dark secrets.

    1. Katelyn*

      For second round interviews with the same interviewer/interviewee I’d probably focus the questions on performance in the role a little more in-depth than the previous interview. e.g. “this role can have some real crush times, but usually only for two weeks at a go, have you experienced that before and how have you handled it?”. “employees in this role have been very successful if they were able to X, how comforatable are you with that process?”

      Questions that help the candidate understand the pros and cons of the job and that give you a little insight into how they would manage them.

      my 0.02

    2. Scandinavian Vacationer*

      My practice with second interviews has been to review a “typical day” with candidates, and in general, really let them know what the job entails. I have also assigned writing assignments, where the answers are blinded from the admin assistant, and that also helps narrow the field well. Or any kind of “test” like taking a sample call or dealing with a hypothetical customer is also great for second “interviews” or screenings.

    3. avocado*

      I think this is a really good point – many (most?) interviewers’ jobs do not center around hiring, so they may only do it once a year. Should they have some training before interviewing? Of course! But I don’t think that interviewer training is that common – it sure isn’t in my field.

      (Obviously there is no excuse for the deep dark secret question!!!)

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      Hiring is f@#ing hard. REALLY, REALLY hard. I’ve been doing it for years and I still feel like even when I ask pretty good questions, it’s not possible to learn enough about someone from a half-hour to one-hour time slot to know whether they’d be great at a job. (You can spot red flags in that amount of time, but beyond that…it’s really hard.)

      I’d say a second interview should be more specific than the first. “Tell me about a time when…” questions, for example. Ask about anything you heard in the first round that gave you pause, or that you don’t feel like you learned enough about.

    5. Empty Sky*

      Second interviews are context dependent to some degree. Depending on the situation, you might have a number that meet all the requirements and you will need to decide on how to separate them. Or if the job is tightly specified, you might have none that meet 100% of the requirements, and you’ll need to figure out which ones will be best able to make it work, and what accommodations or mitigations might be required. Sometimes there will be one or more clear front-runners who would clearly be stars, and in that case it’s often worthwhile to use the time to sell them on the role and the company, and make sure that any questions or concerns that they have are answered (the better they are, the greater the chance that they will have offers from other employers as well).

      In the absence of any more specific plan, it’s always useful to explore any points that you weren’t sure of. For example, perhaps you think the candidate was over- or under-rating their ability in a particular area. In that case it can be useful to ask them for an example and spend some time talking in detail about what they did. Or you can come up with a more detailed set of questions that explore that particular area and assess their knowledge. Sometimes I might bring another person in for a second opinion.

  3. CR*

    One of my weirdest interviews was with the three people who would be overseeing me (manager and two supervisors); they had clearly googled “interview questions” and had a printed-out list that they took turns asking questions from. There was no room for real discussion or back and forth, it was just being questioned. It was weird. I did get the job though!

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I’m employed by the state and there is a list of interview questions that departments have to ask when hiring staff.

      1. Artemesia*

        When I let hiring committees we always had a loose set of questions we used for interviews — phone interviews and then in person — each with their own set. The phone interviews in particularly we wanted to be parallel. We had about 5 categories with probes we might use and agreed in advance who would lead each category. It was very helpful to think it through in advance and then make sure everyone got similar interviews, with individual specific probes/follow up.

      2. A person*

        I ran into this for a state job. The hiring committee decided to add an interview question before they were done with all the interviews and had to call the people they already interviewed to ask the new question. Calling in the middle of the day while I was at work, they put me on the spot to answer their question right then because they all had to hear every candidate’s answer to their additional question about accepting certain work conditions that were not listed in the ad (and that I did not find acceptable.)

        I got offered a different job, thank goodness, since it was obvious to everyone in my unit what that call was about.

      3. Smarty Boots*

        State university employee, none of the positions in this department are faculty. We have a list of questions for each position (very good ones, in fact — we take it seriously!) and for each search
        we ask all of the candidates the exact same questions in the exact same order. It drives me crazy! I got the side eye the first couple of times I asked follow up questions — we didn’t ask any of the others that follow up question! you asked candidate 1 X follow up and candidate 2 Y follow up! You didn’t ask candidate 3 any follow up questions! Many of my colleagues are unable to understand that make the process fair and equitable for all candidates does NOT mean we have to make the experience exactly the same.

        1. Pam*

          Luckily my university isn’t so strict. We have lists of questions for our interviews, but follow-ups/opening the question further are common, and don’t have to be equal.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I had an interview like this – it was one-on-ones with multiple team members and the manager. The team members all had the same printed sheet of questions and they’d clearly been instructed to ask three of them. They didn’t coordinate though, so I got to answer “What’s your worst quality?” three different times. Fun.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I had a similar interview once. All three people asked basically the same questions. I tried, knowing that they were going to meet and compare notes, to give different examples to each person. I didn’t get the job. I don’t know if giving different answers to people had anything to do with it or not. The whole interview experience was odd. I basically sat in a windowless room that was only big enough for a small table and a few chairs and spent a total of four hours answering the same 10 questions from 3 different people. I consider it a bullet dodged in hind sight.

      2. CoffeeOnMyMind*

        I’ve had several strange interviews: the one where the panelists asked if I played Pokémon Go; the one where one of two paired interviewers (both of whom I’d be working with) refused to introduce herself or ask me a single question, and just glared at me the entire time; the one where the recruiter sat in on the interview and immediately afterward verbally pressured me into accepting the job even though there was no offer; the one where I was told the CEO regularly makes “bathroom jokes, swears, and jokes about women”; and the one where I was asked how I felt about “dealing with rabid raccoons and snakes.” And no, that last one had nothing to do with animals.

        1. Penny Hartz*

          I got the silent glare once too! I had an interview for a marketing position at an architectural firm and it was a panel consisting of the HR woman that I had dealt with, another HR rep, and about four/five members of the marketing team, all but one of whom were women.
          The HR rep made the introductions, and the woman who sat directly across from me GLARED at me, didn’t ask a single question, and rolled her eyes when she needed a break from all the glaring.
          Everyone else on the panel was friendly, interested in what I had to say… all told it was a very comfortable, nice interview.
          The woman who glared the entire time would have been my direct supervisor.
          I did not get the job.
          I wracked my brain trying to remember if I’d met her sometime/place and had offended her in some way, but no dice.
          It was weird.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I got the glare once also. I interviewed at a medical facility for an administrative job and I had gotten the interview by sending emails to some of the managers.
          I was interviewed by a nice white man and a tiny Latina woman who went through the motions of being introduced, etc., and then spent the entire time glaring and frowning and giving the impression she hated me. I wish I had been assertive enough to ask her what the problem was, but I didn’t. I’ve wondered ever since. Did she hate me because I emailed the managers to get their attention? Because I’m tall and she was short? Because I’m white? I have no idea.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      These interviews are no fun to give. Most positions in our department are union, and all interviewees have to be asked the exact same questions. Luckily, we can expand on their answers but if someone comes up w/a really good question after a couple of interviews that will help us decide, we can’t use it.

    4. el*

      OMG are you me? That sounded exactly like a job interview I had when I was moving to New City. These people had a printed list of questions, like you mentioned. they would look down at one of them, remember it long enough to read it to me and expect my answer. One question was “If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?”

      This is for a “grown up job,” I was years out of school

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        “I am an animal. Human beings are animals in the group known as primates. Our closest cousins are chimps. If you’re asking what OTHER animal I’d like to be, I’d have to say flying squirrel. Or possibly a kitten who is always 10 weeks old.”

        1. el*

          I would also like to add that I was not applying for a job at the zoo. =\

          They liked my answer, whatever it was. I did not get the job nor did I want it after that interview. This interview happened 4+ years ago and I still remember it. Clearly it was that bad.

    5. copier queen*

      I work for a public school district and most interviews are like this, especially for district staff. All candidates are asked the same questions and interviewers (usually 5-6 people) score each answer, then total up all answer scores to get the candidate’s total score, and then compare scores of all candidates. It’s supposed to promote fairness in hiring…but definitely the reduces back-and-forth dialogue that provides so much good info during interviews.

  4. Xarcady*

    When I got promoted into a position where I had to interview prospective employees, I quickly realized that I needed help. One book I found had sample interview questions with sample responses, and info on how to judge the responses. A few months later, I shared the book with a co-worker who was just starting to interview people. But I kind of hid the book from the owner of the company, not wanting her to think I was totally clueless.

    But my co-worker didn’t–she showed the book to the owner. And the owner bought a copy for herself, and shared it with other hiring staff. At this point, she’d been running her own company for 25 years. She also praised me for going out and researching the whole topic of interviewing, so that was a relief.

    Which just goes to show that even experienced interviewers can learn new things.

    1. Lawyers are the worst*

      Betting that was someone interviewing at the MN attorney general’s office. I know lots of people who’ve interviewed there and they all got that question. And it is an awful place to work! The current AG got stung for making her employees work on her political campaigns.

  5. Augusta Sugarbean*

    I thought the Wyoming answer was pretty diplomatic. In this day and age, I would assume they were trying to suss out my political leanings. (My answer would be Nevada because we just drove through it and holy hell there’s a lot of nothing. Apologies to Nevadans. I’ve been through there a few times and just can’t see the draw – I tried like hell but nope.)

    1. KHB*

      It struck me that that question was phrased as “If you could get rid of any US state,” not “If you had to,” so that makes me wonder if the “correct” answer is supposed to be “none of them.” But probably not, because that makes far too much sense for the kind of people who think questions like that are appealing.

      1. Persimmons*

        This is why I am terrible at T&F tests…too pedantic. Part of my job requires pedantry (no cowboy coding allowed!) so I split the difference by answering the question twice.

        “Since you said I could get rid of a state, I would take that to mean it isn’t mandatory, so I wouldn’t. If you did intend for it to be mandatory, I’d choose State X, because Y.”

        I learned that lesson on one of those “what animal would you be” questions…I was waxing rhapsodic about how cool Turritopsis dohrnii is, and she interrupted to clarify that she actually wanted to kow what animal I’m actually already like. That’s not what she had said.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I don’t know if you were deliberately trying to get people to google Turritopsis dohrnii is, by using only the scientific name, but if so, it worked on me, lol!

          I never heard of those things before, but I’ll admit they do sound interesting (even though, generally speaking, I am not a big fan of jellyfish).

    2. Exhausted Trope*

      I never thought asking about the state you’d eliminate would be a ploy to determine your political bent. I just assumed it was another terrible interview question.

    3. Blue*

      Honestly, I would think that, too. Even if it wasn’t explicitly designed for that purpose, it could go into political territory far too easily for my comfort. That would definitely influence my response.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      I thought the question was to suss out political leanings, too. Answering Texas or California would put most people squarely in a conservative or liberal box, which the interviewer might want so the person “fits” better w/the culture (which is a terrible way to get a diverse team).

    5. Antilles*

      Honestly, I wonder if the best way to do it might be to carry it off as a sports joke of some kind. “I’d love to get rid of (Rival State), because as a (Team Name) fan, so you know, hahaha”. Said with a laugh and appropriate tone/smile of course.

    6. Bryce*

      “Canada. Sure there would be a few steps necessary to make it a state in the first place, but never let that get in the way of your goals.”

    7. Zip Silver*

      Am from Austin, would get rid of California (or at least the transplants taking over the city)

      1. Pam*

        That’s the wrong way to think about it- if you get rid of California, there will be LOTS more transplants. :)

    8. Marthooh*

      Me: “Netokowan.”

      Them: “But… what? There’s no state called Netokowan!”

      Me: Smiles evilly.

    9. Thor*

      I’d say Rhode Island.

      It’s so small it doesn’t provide any resources that would be missed and geographically you’re not disrupting any travel routes that can’t be fixed by shifting everything into Connecticut.

      Plus, Rhode Island doesn’t have a particular cultural or political shading to most people.

    10. Nanani*

      Yeah, my thought was along the same lines. Like, they want you to name a state associated with some group they personally don’t like.

      Alternatively, maybe the “correct” answer is which ever state is home to local state’s rival sportsball team?

      Either way, it’s a “read my mind!” question and therefore bad.

  6. gk*

    The worst ones are when they are just completely disinterested in you. I had one not long ago and she was staring at her computer and not engaging with me at all. I had to prompt her to ask me questions. Not sure she even looked at my resume. I interview people in my current role and I was flabbergasted. Really regret using my time off for that one!

    And then there’s the ‘trying to catch you out’ interviewers. I had a really successful interview day with 3 other people and finally I got to the last interviewer and I felt under attack. She was questioning every answer I gave, more than just asking how I did something and what the data was. No, she was peeling back the layers all the way because she didn’t get it (my old boss was like that). I sat there and imagined having to work with her… we’d be sitting in meetings for hours explaining things so she could understand/be confident in something.

    Finally, tests and projects. My blood boils when I’m asked to do a project BEFORE I even interview for a job. And then there’s the “show us you’re a genius” interview test. There are some really elitist companies out there who expect you to go all Beautiful Mind on a whiteboard for them. Sorry dude, that’s why we have spreadsheets. At those kind of companies you’re treated the same way as the whiteboard.

    1. 99 lead balloons*

      Sames here. I turned down a job that had me take a test about using – I kid you not – various functions in Word and PowerPoint…from the Windows XP days before the big 2012 Office update. And asked whether a mouse was an “input” or an “output”. No way anyone at that office was using anything less than Windows 10. Not to mention, it was clearly an online test they printed out to reuse. That and it was clear they got so burned by the last employee I would be micromanaged to death.

      1. Slippy*

        While normally the mouse is classified as an “input” device, there are several self-defense scenarios, mostly involving the marketing department, where it could be classified as an “output” device.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Treated the same way as the whiteboard – wiped out, except for that one stupid comment someone wrote in Sharpie instead of whiteboard marker?

      Sounds about right. :-)

    3. Essess*

      I had an interviewer inform me he had the flu. He’d ask a question, zone out, and then a few minutes later he’d ask me if he’d already asked the previous question yet. Obviously he hadn’t bothered to listen to the answer if he wasn’t sure if he’d already asked the question.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Was that *after* he’d already shaken your hand?

        (The good news is, it probably wasn’t the flu if he was vertical and fully dressed. Most people haven’t experienced it at all, they’ve just had very very bad colds.)

        1. WellRed*

          Haha, that’s how I feel about people telling me they have the flu. If you are upright, you probably have a very very bad cold. Which I still don’t appreciate you exposing me to.

    4. Not a Blossom*

      We’ve made people do tests before even interviewing, but it’s because a lot of people think they have the skill level when they don’t. We’ve had several people self-select out after seeing the kind of work, and there have been many more we’ve eliminated because despite fantastic resumes, their actual work product wasn’t even close to good enough. That being said, we try to keep the test as simple as possible, and it is of course not live work.

      1. KHB*

        For us, the written test comes after the phone interview and before the in-person interview. That always seemed to me like the right way to do it (both when I was a candidate myself and now that I’m on the other side of the table) – any other order seems like a potential giant waste of everyone’s time.

        And like you, Not a Blossom, we’ve had surprisingly many people who look great on paper and do a good job of talking the talk during the phone screen, but who do shockingly poorly when asked to put their skills into practice.

        1. JustaTech*

          A friend of mine was doing a phone interview for a computer job when he noticed that every time he asked a question there would be a brief pause, the sound of typing, and then the candidate would answer. Obviously the person was looking up the answers to the questions. So my friend googled the next question, found the answer, and re-phrased the question so it wasn’t easily searchable. Then the candidate couldn’t answer the question.

          So sometimes people look great in a phone screen because they’re using the world’s collective knowledge.

    5. Free Meerkats*

      Everyone who interviews for an Inspector position here does an exercise before their interview. We give them a mock report similar to one they’d get from an industry, a copy of the mock permit and a copy of our ordinance. They have 30 minutes to review the report and write a Notice of Violation if one is needed. We put this in place after a hire who, while he looked good on paper and interviewed well, simply could not write. Interestingly, one of the interviewees the last go round identified a violation I’d missed when making up the mock report and he was the only one to note it. He now sits in the office across from me.

    6. Empty Sky*

      I was once invited along to an interview scheduled by my manager, with a candidate that he had previously interviewed for another role. He scheduled it over lunch and we all sat around eating. He made small talk and did not ask one single question about the role or the candidate’s qualifications.

      A few days later he told her he was “sorry she wasn’t a fit.” I recall wondering exactly how he had reached that conclusion.

    7. Michaela Westen*

      Someone I know socially is a tech interviewer who has that elitist attitude. He won’t even spit on anyone who didn’t go to one of his three acceptable schools. He’s so stuck-up and critical he’s alienated almost everyone. He hasn’t thought I was worth bothering with since I got in his face and told him I have a tech job with no degree and my boss loves my work. :D Good riddance.

    8. Elizabeth W.*

      I had one of these. It was two women, and they just were so inept at asking questions I had to prompt them through the entire interview. It seemed like they just did not give two shits about what they were doing; I don’t think it was me.
      And this place, a personal injury law firm, is STILL occasionally advertising for the position. Yeesh.

  7. BusDude*

    One of the first interviews I ever had, I was asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I gave an oft googled answer, “Having moved forward in my career, I hope I will be holding a minor leadership position.”
    Of course, it was only with working experience I realise that the answer was actually very naive and unrealistic in my industry. Chalk it up to being a freshly graduated with zero experience on working life.

    What made it a BAD interview though, was that apparently, even though they decided to hire me, the hiring manager (a director in the company), saw fit to tell the whole office that I was over ambitious and such a silly girl, LOL SHE WANTS TO BE TEAM LEAD IN 5 YEARS! WITH THAT PORTFOLIO? IN HER DREAMS!
    A team lead actually told me about it a few months into the job. I was horribly embarrassed. I never realised that what I said in the interview was interpreted that way and caused the high level execs to have such a bad impression of me during the start of the first job in my career. Well, at least they still hired me, and I lasted 10 years in the company, so it wasn’t all bad.

    1. LadyL*

      God forbid someone young be a bit starry-eyed and ambitious in a job interview. Let us, the older folks with more experience, all gather ’round to mock her dreams derisively, instead of perhaps offering her some guidance and mentorship.

      That hiring manager sounds like a massive jerk. I’m glad the job worked out for you, but yeesh that guy doesn’t sound like someone who deserves to be deciding hiring.

      1. KHB*

        Also, how are you supposed to know enough about the advancement structures of a company you’re not even working at yet to know if five years is a reasonable time frame to be promoted to team lead?

        1. Essess*

          Agreed. In my company, we have so many layers of leadership that you could easily be team lead (which is a minor leadership role) in 2-3 years.

    2. Bigintodogs*

      I’m in tech so I always say something about working with emerging technologies and such. I think it’s dumb question though.

      1. Tisiphone*

        That’s how I answered “Where do you expect to be in 5 years?” at a performance review when I worked in IT. My answer was “Certified in an operating system that hasn’t been released yet. This was in 1996. I achieved my goal with Windows 2000.

    3. Eddiesherbert*

      If is helps, for my very first job interview, I got the same question… from the CEO of the company. And I told him (the CEO!!!) that I saw myself moving back to [home state where this job definitely was NOT located].

      Luckily, he was extremely nice and kindly informed me that he meant in my career and ideally at this company.

      SHOCKINGLY, I still got the job (not shockingly, I was only there 2 years before moving back to home state, haha).

    4. irene adler*

      There ought to exist some kind of professional agreement that all interview responses cannot be brought up later during one’s employment. Especially those that might embarrass the employee. Candidates are nervous and feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes they say things unintentionally, that may sound humorous.

    5. gk*

      I had something like that happen at an interview. I didn’t get the job… she asked me where I saw myself in 5 years. So I said that I’d love to be managing a team etc. She stopped and looked at me and said “so you want my job then?”.

      I was younger then but if it happened to me again I hope I would be able to push back on that. What’s wrong with being ambitious? I can only assume that she is not and would consider someone that is as a threat. Sad really.

      1. el*

        That also shows you the kind of person she is. If you had gotten that job, she would do everything in her power to make sure that you were at the level you were at when you were hired. She wouldn’t fight for you to get promoted or help mentor or develop your skills. It may be a blessing you didn’t get that job.

      2. Gumby*

        She stopped and looked at me and said “so you want my job then?”.

        It would totally burn bridges, but the response there is a shocked and incredulous “Wait, you think you’ll still be in the same job in 5 years? What is the promotion landscape in this company?” (Though, frankly, there *are* companies without much mobility and if that is something important to you, it is better to find out in an interview.)

    6. Elizabeth W.*

      I hate this question. After a job I felt secure in did a complete 180 on me, I have no idea where I’ll end up in five years. I’ve been answering with something like, “I’d like to be with a company I can grow in, so hopefully in five years I’ll be completely out of admin work but still at the same company, in a more specialized role.” Or if I think they’re amenable to it, “On the bestseller list for the third time in a row!”

  8. Anonthistime*

    I was that awful interviewer once. My peers and I were recruited on little notice to interview for the open seat in the department. Since we were way shorthanded and overloaded, everyone was too busy to deal with it. The manager hadn’t time to clearly detail the position to the interviewers or to discuss any strategy about who would focus on what subject. We scrambled from last ditch efforts on alarming deadlines into the interview room. I had received some pretty good training a few years back but I wasn’t as prepared and focused as I had meant to be. Interviewing suffers when people are stretched too thin.

  9. KHB*

    So I don’t have hiring authority, but I’m senior enough that I always participate in interviews whenever my department is hiring. I’ve never had any training on how to interview. Any suggestions or resources on how I can be not-terrible at it?

    Usually I just start off with “So tell me about your experience doing (closest thing they have on their resume to what my department does),” maybe follow up with “How do you think about (issues X, Y, and Z that are likely to come up in that work)?” and let the conversation flow naturally from there. Usually that’s enough to fill the half-hour I’m allotted with the candidate and seems to give a reasonable impression of whether they have a good head on their shoulders. But I’m sure my approach leaves a lot of room for improvement.

    1. Rocinante*

      Working for State Government, we have a fairly rigid process when it comes to interviews, but it really boils down to this:

      1. Decide what skills/traits/qualities are important to the job before the interview.
      2. Figure out and/or choose questions that suss out the candidate’s skills/traits/qualities identified in point 1 before the interview.
      3. Ask those questions in the interview.

      Having pre-determined questions can keep you from straying into “tell me about Turkey” territory.

  10. Stabbity Tuesday*

    In the worst interview I ever had they asked me what kind of kitchen appliance I would be, and if I had bought anything on Prime day. The second one she at least said it was just because she was curious, but seriously. This was also the interview in which I sat down in front of the entire 12-15 person office staff while they took turns asking questions for reasons I still haven’t figured out.

    1. Bostonian*

      hahaha I don’t think I would be able to not laugh out loud if I got asked in an interview what kitchen appliance I would be.

    2. Nesprin*

      “if you were a puzzle piece which one would you be?”
      I answered “the little blue one in the corner” somewhat sarcastically.
      They then asked me why.
      “wait, that was a serious question?”

      Did not get the job

      1. Delta Delta*

        This is fabulous. I’d have said “the one that fell behind the couch that makes the sky complete” and wait for a response to see if anyone catches the reference to a Lemonheads song. If they do, we’re probably meant to be together.

    3. JustaTech*

      I had an interviewer ask me what kind of superpower I would have. “The ability to give everyone a parking spot, even if it requires quantum superposition.”
      “… That’s new. Why parking?”
      “Have you ever tried to park in [nearby popular neighborhood]?”
      “Yeah, that makes sense.”

      1. Elizabeth W.*

        I’d say “I’d want a shrink ray so I could just put my car in my purse like in Ant-Man and the Wasp.” Thus flying my geek flag unashamedly.

  11. Sarah*

    My company for some reason has decided it’s best to not tell us anything about the candidate beforehand. We get handed a resume from the recruiter as we walk into the conference room for the interview. So then I have to spend the first five minutes of the interview reading their resume while trying to have a conversation. And can’t really tailor questions individually. It makes for some terrible interviews, especially when I first started.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Oh yikes, that’s ridiculous and disrespectful of the interviewee’s time, not to mention putting you on the spot too. At the very least, the resume should be given to you 5-10 minutes ahead of time so you can prepare.

    2. School Inclusion Specialist*

      I once was asked by an interviewer “what’s your name again?” and “Can you walk me through your resume, I haven’t read it”
      It goes without saying, but the interviewer did not get more thoughtful through the rest of the interview.
      I withdrew from the process the next day.

      1. irene adler*

        Just one time? This happens to me a lot.
        It gets worse though.
        They pick little things off of the resume and say, “So, tell me about X.”
        No context or specifics. They just sit there and expect you to say the right words.
        And they don’t like it when you ask them to clarify what they’d like to know ‘about X’.

        You were right to withdraw.

    3. Sacred Ground*

      That’s amazing. We so often read job seekers’ complaints that interviewers are unprepared to interview or don’t seem to have read their resumes beforehand. And here’s a company that actually makes this their policy? Like, on purpose? Just wow.

  12. Free Meerkats*

    I’m in the field I’ve been in for 36 years because of the worst interviewer I’ve ever had. Thank you Joy!

    It was the peak of the Reagan Recession and I’d been out of the Navy for about a year, bouncing from temp job to temp job while applying for everything I was remotely qualified for. I got called for an interview for a job at a large municipality in central AZ and pretty much wasn’t able to answer the technical questions. Like: shown a map, “How deep is that manhole and how far is it from that one?” Since I’d never seen that kind of chart before, I couldn’t tell him. Then he asked me about my Navy experience, and we spent the rest of the interview talking about being in the Navy in Washington State. He had been on a PT boat during WWII out of Oak Harbor, and I had been on a carrier overseas and then a refit at Bremerton. A week later I was hired along with another new employee (expanding the group from 4 to 6) who had also recently gotten out of the Navy from Sand Point in Seattle. I assume I’m not the only one seeing a pattern here. :-)

    1. Dr. Pepper*

      I have definitely been hired because of outside connections to the hiring manager. Once was because we went to the same university (albeit 20 years apart). We spent nearly the entire interview talking about the university and the town it’s located in and only a brief amount of time talking about the job and my qualifications to do it (spoiler alert: none). I even flatly refused to do a certain aspect of the job but got hired anyway. Interestingly it ended up being one of my favorite jobs with a great boss who I got along with really well.

    2. Xarcady*

      After having been interviewed by two people, I walked into the office of the company president/owner. “Oh, I recognize you from church!” were the first words out of her mouth. (Luckily, I could also place her from church.)

      I don’t think I got hired solely on the basis that she knew me from church, but I also don’t think that hurt my chances, either. I was qualified for the job, thank goodness.

  13. Higher ed*

    I think my workplace does a relatively good job at interviewing candidates, but it’s probably in spite of ourselves. You would think all managers would receive some sort of training, but oh no … we don’t. If your organization is full of sane people, you can muddle your way through based on basic common sense and business norms. Not every organization has that advantage, though. ;)

  14. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    My employer recently rolled out an 18 page interview walk-through that is required when interviewing applicants. On the one hand, I’m glad they’re finally giving management a tool for this, but on the other…18 PAGES????

  15. Anon From Here*

    1) I’ve been in the seat across the desk from a potential boss going on and on and on about their Ivy League educations and high achievements and widespread professional recognition. Not sure if the goal was to intimidate me, or make me feel I should low-ball my salary ask, or what. It’s happened more than once in my industry, which is notorious for its number of egomaniacs. One time I got the job; the other time, I didn’t. So boring, though!

    2) Allison suggests the “that’s a surprising question” tactic in the article. I’ve used that successfully to buy time. People who ask oddball questions know that they’re oddball. It’s more about how you answer than the content of your answer.

    1. LadyL*

      I went to a “good” college and I know people who went to the “best” colleges, and while many of them are amazing, smart, wonderful people, there were certainly plenty of people that absolutely did not impress me.

      I’m always suspicious of anyone who puts a lot of stock into the “brand name” of their education, for many reasons, but primarily because the venn diagram of people who somehow got into Yale/Harvard/Brown/etc despite being a total idiot, and the people who think that it’s really important you know they went to Yale/Harvard/Brown/etc is a circle.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Wow. I laughed at the venn diagram joke, but as agraduate of a large state university, I actually find it a bit disillusioning to know that people actually get into places like Yale/Harvard/Brown/etc despite being total idiots, much less manage to graduate!

        1. Not a Mere Device*

          There seem to be two or three categories there: “legacy” admissions, meaning “this person’s parents, grandfather, etc. are alumni and donate lots of money” and athletics: they probably won’t admit someone with no other qualifications because he’s a good lacrosse or player, but an athlete may get in ahead of a non-athlete who is better qualified by all their other standards. (Further complicating things, that legacy student’s parents are more likely to be willing and able to pay for an expensive private high school, outside tutoring, and so on; they may be thinking “I want Junior to learn as much as possible, and Harvard is a good place for that” or it may be “Junior needs to go to Harvard so he’ll meet the right people.”)

          Further complicating this are people who peaked in high school: the skills it takes to get into a top college aren’t enough to get As while you’re there.

  16. KT*

    I work in education, and for the most part the interview questions are pretty predictable. But when I was first interviewing about 5 years ago, one of my first interviews was at a school that skipped the normal questioning process and had me prepare a 15 minutes lesson. That in and of itself was not unusual, and something I was used to doing in my ed classes. What was unusual was that while I presented this lesson, my interviewers – who would be my colleagues/boss, acted like 6th graders… without telling me that they would be doing that. And I mean REALLY acting. This was my first interview, so I didn’t know if this was normal. I found out on subsequent interviews (including ones where I prepared a lesson) that this was not a normal approach. Other teachers I’ve told this story to have been horrified.

      1. KT*

        I don’t remember what I chose, but I do remember grown up people whining and asking to go to the bathroom and sighing exasperatedly and putting their heads down. It was… extremely exaggerated behavior. And I felt so awkward because how do I “classroom manage” someone who could be my boss?

        I was very happy they never called me about the second round of interviews.

    1. School Inclusion Specialist*

      This is ridiculous. There are so many other standard procedures in education for future employers to see a candidate teach a sample lesson that this was 100% unnecessary.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I did this for a training job once. But it was done correctly: the SECOND interview was the mock lesson, and I had several days to prepare for it.

      My future colleagues had decided upon their roles ahead of time (they told me later), and one was the totally useless person who can’t follow any instructions. Happily, I was prepared for that! My lesson was in how to make an origami crane and I had some pre-made at various stages of construction, so when she flailed and got behind, I just told her it wasn’t a problem and pulled out a half-made crane so she could “catch up with the class”.

      She was also the one who came to the class with her phone’s earpiece in place and I think that was not on purpose. I got the impression that they were all surprised when I asked her to remove the earpiece so we could all concentrate. (She did. I got the job and did it well.)

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I had an interview once that involved giving a presentation to future peers and managers. I used a shortened version of my master’s thesis talk, they asked questions, it was fine. I accepted an offer there and after I started, my officemate apologized for giving me a hard time during the presentation. He said they were asked beforehand to ask tricky or repetitive questions to see how I handled challenges.

      I had to tell him I hadn’t even noticed! To be fair, none of them ever sat in on my grad department’s brown-bag lectures (usually given by grad students on their work) – people got *grilled* in those things. I had someone try to sabotage my talk once because she didn’t like me personally. Whatever my coworkers had come up with were way more respectful and easy to deal with than that!

  17. Antilles*

    I actually think the biggest reason a lot of interviewers are bad is simple confirmation bias.
    1.) In a lot of roles, you only interview/hire people every couple months, sometimes even less. So it’s hard to really judge anything because pure luck could get you decent results even if your process is abysmal.
    2.) You only hire one person and don’t get to see the alternate reality of another candidate. Even if you hired ‘just fine’ when some better questioning could have gotten you ‘awesome’, you have no way of knowing that.
    3.) Most candidates who self-select out of your process will never tell you why. So even though your 483-question Pre-Interview Survey cost you all of your top choices, you don’t actually realize that you’re missing out on most candidates. You just see that you hired the best person out of the pool and you don’t realize that your dumb survey already shrunk down your options.

    1. Bostonian*

      This is a really interesting point. You can’t really judge the success of the interview/hiring process based on the outcome alone. You never can know what could have been, and if you get a good hire it could have been in spite of the process.

      1. irene adler*

        I interviewed at a place where the hiring manager bragged to me that she possessed ‘extraordinary’ hiring skills. Her ‘evidence’: she’d made 8 hires over the past 4 years. All have remained employed there. In addition, other employees have expressed a desire to work for her.

        So this justified a slew of inane questions.
        I just shook my head.

    2. MassMatt*

      This is a great analysis. I will add a few more items:

      1–Doing the interview takes someone away from their work, this can be especially an issue for people doing sales, or attorneys working billable hours, where time is money.

      2–The person interviewing has no real stake in the outcome. This is especially common where multiple people are called to do the interview at a large org. One person is going to be your boss, maybe some will work closely with you, others may rarely if ever work with you so why should they care?

      3–The organization is either not serious about hiring, maybe they just need to do interviews to keep from losing the requisition. Or they are not serious about hiring YOU. The rules say they have to interview 4 people, they found the one they want to hire, you are lucky #4

      4–Someone in the group interview situation has a problem with someone else in the organization; maybe they wanted to hire for a position in THEIR department doing teapot design but couldn’t get the go-ahead, so now they are wasting their day interviewing llama herders, DAMMIT!

  18. Utoh!*

    Every time we have done hiring, the process has always been different from the last time, my manager likes to try new things that she’s read about on a blog (but not *this* blog). My manager performs a phone interview (but does not give us any information about what was discussed), and then she selects those she would like to come in for an interview with a couple of us who will be working with them. We don’t meet beforehand to get any idea of who will be interviewing so we are basically winging it. The *one* time I was not involved in the process was when my coworker (who SUCKS) made it through and was hired. The others have either made it though and then moved on internally, or made it through until failing the drug screen (which should have all be completed BEFORE they were allowed access to our offices or systems, HR fail, but that’s a whole other story). I even did a quick Google search on sucky coworker and found some pretty big red flags about him that should have been found from a background check. Bottom line, we really don’t have much of a process, though now at least the other managers in my department are involved in the interview since my team works with all the other teams.

  19. Bigintodogs*

    I had one where they told me they has to ask “Do you consider yourself lucky or unlucky?” and “What’s more important, luck or hard work?” (or something like that). They were super nice and they were not the people who made the questions, but I had never been asked those questions in an interview before and it was a little strange, especially the first one.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I kinda like this question, tbh. I think they’re trying to suss out whether people take ownership of their actions or just blame bad luck. But, I’d be too worried about misjudging people who had been through tragedy or people who didn’t have the “luck” of being born privileged or affluent.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I’d seriously side-eye anyone who answered “hard work,” or expected that answer, or asked this question in the first place, because… factually, empirically speaking, luck IS a lot more important. There are millions and millions of people all over the world who work hard but are struggling and living in poverty, and no amount of hard work is likely to overcome obstacles like serious illness or injury or just being born into (or otherwise dropped into) awful circumstances. And honestly people who don’t realize this tend to be severely lacking in compassion, to have an unrealistic view of the world, and are often just generally awful people. Our culture doesn’t like to acknowledge this, but it’s true. (And this delusion is the root of a lot of the world’s problems.)

    2. Random Commenter*

      Well but I mean how DO you answer. I’m unlucky because I never win any raffles and such. I’m lucky because I was born in an upper-middle-class family and had a pretty privileged life. I’m unlucky because Ihad cancer. But I’m also lucky to have survived the cancer. I’m lucky to have my partner. But I’m unlucky that my family lives far away.

      How do you even measure luck?

      I mean I would just stare at them in awkward silence…

  20. RJ the Newbie*

    A little over a year ago, I was interviewing for Project Accountant positions. I had an interview at a company that I was very ambivalent about and the interview really let me know it wasn’t the place for me. In addition to all the typical and tired questions (where do you see yourself in 5 years? what are your strengths/weaknesses?) I was asked if I were a can of soup, what kind of soup would I be?

    I cannot remember what I said, but I was out of there in five minutes. The position BTW is still unfilled.

      1. MassMatt*

        When interviewing for positions at the Andy Warhol Museum, this is the only possible answer.

      2. RJ the Newbie*

        Honestly, I don’t think even answering my favorite (Campbell’s Tomato) would have been the right answer. In my 25 years working experience, I have never had such a strange, misguided interview.

  21. Nervous Accountant*

    Is there a reason why interviewers will ask about something that’s already on your resume? I had someone upset that I asked about the gap in her resume, and she said “well you can see on my resume that I was in school”. I used to hate this so much but now I can kind of see why I turned off interviewers. But apparently this is so common but I couldn’t figure out why.

    1. marmalade*

      Wait, I’m confused. If you hated receiving these questions so much, then why ask them of candidates? Especially when the gap is already explained, as you said?

    2. Smarty Boots*

      Yeah, well, that was a snotty response from the interviewee. I look pretty carefully at resumes and would have noticed that, and I still might have asked that question — because how the person answers it tells you something (and in your situation, it tells you may not want to hire this person). For instance, instead of insinuating that you’re careless or can’t read, she could have said, I realized while working at Llama Co that I needed more education to advance my llama-grooming career, or, that I did not really want to be in the llama-grooming industry and so I went to school to get my masters in Mad Ninja Skills.

      And sometimes the interviewer, being human, will just miss something. And again, a snotty response is really great info for me.

      When I’m being interviewed, I assume that everything on my resume is fair game, and I don’t assume anyone has read or understood it as well as I do, and that it’s on me to help interviewers understand it (and then after the interview I go back to see if I need to make things clearer).

    3. Bea*

      I would not hire someone who’s put out by a simple question, despite being in the resume.

      She’ll snap back to emails asking for information with “I just told you. It’s right there in the last email.” We all THINK it but you don’t say it unless your filter is screwed up.

      You ask so they can explain it. Don’t assume and don’t forget people do purchase or doctor resumes. So you need to investigate by asking. It’s not an interrogation but you also need to hear explanations as well as read them.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly. I was asked about an apparent gap in my resume – there wasn’t one, but the interviewer misinterpreted the dates of my internal transfer. I can only imagine how quickly I would have killed my chances if I’d said something obnoxious like “My resume clearly shows there was no gap.”

        Interviewers probably ask to fact check and clarify, to hear you describe something in your own words rather than resume bullet point form, and maybe even to see how you deal with annoying questions that indicate someone might not have paid attention (even if they were very closely paying attention). Pretty much any of those reasons gives you info that the resume by itself does not.

    4. Close Bracket*

      > Is there a reason why interviewers will ask about something that’s already on your resume?

      What was your reason for asking? Well, there you go.

  22. Nervous Accountant*

    On another note, I posted about this on the Friday thread but I recently held my first interview for interns. It was interesting being on the other side of this. As far as training goes, we had a quick meeting the evening before to discuss what NOT to say. The logistics were discussed in the AM. Since the position was for a PT college intern, we weren’t holding lack of experience against them, and really we just wanted to see if they could carry a conversation or have any other skills. So I wouldn’t say we really received a lot of training for this. Each interview was meant to be 5 minutes long max, and even though mine were quick, I really enjoyed the whole process. I would say “tell me about yourself” and then tell them about the job description.

    And a funny story someone told me recently. Candidate had told the interviewer that SHE wanted to know about THEIR qualifications. Once she was satisfied, he could proceed with interviewing her. She was rejected but then made a huge stink and was hired second time around….yeah.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Oh, I have definitely been interviewed by people who were not qualified to evaluate me. I did my best to keep those thoughts to myself, but I see where she is coming from.

    2. JustaTech*

      The first person I ever interviewed was for a student-worker position. The lab manager and I were pretty uncertain about the process, so we printed out a list of questions from the internet (!). One of them was the classic bad question “what’s you’re greatest weakness?” “I’m unmotivated.” Uh, didn’t expect that much honesty.
      Then the student said “I know I’m not going to get this position because these jobs only go to [ethnic group].” If the student had turned around he would have seen that almost all the full-time staff and scientists in the lab were from [ethnic group].

      So sometimes even a terrible interview question can result in a really good feel for the candidate.

  23. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Group interviews. I know it’s easier for the company to get a small group of people and give them an exercise to assess their teamwork abilities, but on the candidate side feels (and IMO is) like Battle Royale. I never went to one of those and felt that everyone got the equal attention from the interviewers. The most egregious case was one where I was ignored from start to finish, without the chance to even introduce myself!

    1. Antennapedia*

      I got that beat. I once participated in a group interview (which was, by that point, the FOURTH TIME the company had had me in to the office over a span of SIX MONTHS) where the five interviewers watched a group of three of us play the board game Pandemic. I had played the game once before and the others had never played at all and every time we made a mistake in the rules one of the interviewers would clear their throat and say “RULES CHECK!”

      After the game we debriefed, at which point they revealed one of the three people was actually already an employee of the company.

      It was incredibly weird, kind of insulting, and I am pretty sure it would have been a terrible fit.

  24. anon for this*

    I’ve had interviewers who get weird when they see Harvard on my resume, and some who act really surprised when they see I have a graduate degree from Harvard, but an undergraduate degree from a state university. My PhD is not related to my career. I pursued it because I loved my research and wanted to publish it. If you google my name, there’s some info out there about my research and the professors I’ve worked with (they’re well-known in their field, and admittedly have very great resumes of their own that would impress people), but I don’t bring mention Harvard because my degree is not at all related to my career and work experience, and because I was always told that it’s not polite to brag about or name drop your school.

    But some people love trying to talk about it. And sure, I don’t mind the occasional, “did you see this celebrity / politician / author?” or “wow, that’s so interesting / cool / exciting!” comments, but when people don’t stop bringing it up, it gets weird. I once had an interviewer ask who I was related to in order to get into Harvard or how much my parents donated, and another who asked how bad my grades were in high school if it meant I went to a public university for undergrad instead of an Ivy. I’ve also had one or two interviewers – both white men – who got really defensive about me, a queer woman, going to an Ivy and kept making weird comments about it.

    It’s literally one line on my resume, and all the way on the second page and the very end of my resume, but every once in awhile there’s an interviewer who spends the entire time slot talking about my degree.

    1. Argh!*

      My undergrad degree is from a rather selective and expensive liberal arts college and my master’s is from Columbia. 100% of tuition and expenses came from financial aid, loans, scholarships, and my student jobs. My family paid zero, but apparently I “pass” for preppy and some people want to put me in my place for it. I don’t have the patience for the “if you were more like me you’d be more like me” talk, but seriously… if you’re going to be envious of people who went to a better school, why didn’t you work harder or study harder to get there?


      1. anon for this*

        Yes, I think people look at me and assume I must be part of the elite upper class and want to put me in my place. My parents work as a public school teacher in a lower socioeconomic school district and a small town government employee. We were comfortably middle class growing up, but not part of the Ivy elite some people apparently believe I belong to. It’s weird how people want to try to drag me down just because of the school I attended. My tuition was covered through the school. Most of the people I knew at school came from middle or upper middle class families and weren’t connected to anyone special. There’s definitely people who are at Ivy League schools only because of their name or money, but I think it says more about a person if they immediately assume you’re one of those people and proceed to not let that idea go.

        Honestly, Harvard only ever comes up in conversation when someone looks at my resume or LinkedIn. I’m not sure if you feel like this way about Columbia, but I feel like I can’t even mention it in relevant conversations without people immediately assuming I’m bragging.

  25. Hayden*

    The worst interview I ever had happened when I was called about 40 minutes after I submitted my application. When I arrived at the interview, my one of my two interviewers was totally unprepared, and the other one wasn’t there. As my interviewer walked around trying to remember where he had saved the job description, I noticed that he had a gun tucked into his waistband. He would later apologize for this, stating that he usually wears a jacket to cover it up because he has a concealed carry permit. He did at least offer me coffee.

    After finally finding and printing what was “probably the right job description,” I then had to wait for him to go to the bathroom. Afterwards he invited me to sit down at the interview table and handed me the job description, which was six pages long. While I was looking over the first page, his wife (the second interviewer) showed up in workout clothes.

    It turned out that my interviewers had a PACKET of interview questions for me, including: “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, “where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, “have you planned out farther than 10 years?”, “tell me about yourself,” “how would you describe yourself?”, “how would your friends and family describe you?” AND “how would your past bosses and co-workers describe you?” And on and on and ON like that for no less than 30, maybe 40, questions. It’s like he printed out a packet of every possible interview question and rather than selecting ones that made sense to ask and weren’t overly repetitive, he just asked me EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.

    The dreaded words, “we think of it like a family here” were spoken. His politics and religion were brought up. Then a friend of theirs dropped by which interrupted the interview for long enough for me the read the other 5 pages of the job description. The entire experience lasted hours and finally ended with… me being asked to fill out an application so that they could start calling my references. The application asked me about favorite books, favorite movies, expected salary, fantasy salary, (he had already told me what the job pays during the interview) and all sorts of other questions spanning multiple pages (many of which I had already answered in the interview/the resume I submitted). I politely declined to move any further in the process.

      1. Hayden*

        LOL nope, this was for an office job in a normal industry (in a small town). I got the impression that the gun was an accidental-on-purpose ‘snowflake test,’ especially in light of some of the political talk that came up later.

  26. Gloomy on a Monday*

    One time during an interview, the interviewers asked what books I had recently read/which were my all time favorites. It led to a great conversation about what our books from childhood had taught us and a lot about personality based on your genre preferences. Turns out the main interviewer and I had the same favorite childhood book (it is a really obscure one) so that was pretty great.

  27. Peachywithasideofkeen*

    I once went for an interview and after we sat down, the interviewer said “Well, I actually don’t really have anything to ask you.”

  28. Bea*

    My favorite will always be the lady who was retiring and replacing herself. With my years and experience she was expecting someone much older. She even off handedly made a comment about how I was “like 40” and was going to have reports who were older. And was then taken further back when I told her I was 31. Bless her heart, it was super awkward since the owner was closer to my age than hers.

    Then there was another part time gig when I was looking to fill my schedule. The lady met me in a bad Mexican restaurant and gave me the stink eye the entire time asking me if I could handle a one person operation…despite explaining in depth that was my exact background. Then she was giving me weird scenarios. Asking me if I could track down Specific Brand of Shoes for the owner and if that kind of task bothered me…no, I’m used to doing everything. Gave examples, picking kids up from school, hunting parts for outdated machines, ordering very specific tobacco products and dog sitting. She still just glared at me the entire time and was in disbelief that I was qualified for a part time bookkeeping job despite answering everything clearly without hesitation.

    I got the feeling both times the women had a picture in their minds and when I walked in they couldn’t seem to wrap their minds around the person that was before them.

  29. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    I think I have one question that I interviewees might see as odd. It’s intentionally a vague question and I do preface asking it with that acknowledging it’s vague.

    “What is your ideal work environment?”

    I get answers from physical space, work load, coworkers, team participation, urgency level, and everything in between. No, the entire interview does not hinge on this answer, but it does give me a little insight as to what the candidate values and where they will be happy.

    1. Smarty Boots*

      That;s a great question and we often ask a version of it. As you point out, it gives you great info. And, the older I get, the more I realize that having the right work environment (however one defines it) really makes a difference to how happy I will be at work.

    2. Bea*

      I think it’s a perfectly sound question. People value things differently.

      It helps you feel out if they’ll be happy in an open office concept with lots of things going on or if they need a door to close. Do they need a lot of room to stretch and layout projects or will a cube work. Is noise an issue, etc.

      Sometimes you save both of you the trouble by knowing that. We had someone say she needed a lot of human interaction and an open office was her ideal. Whereas we’re stuffed in offices. She looked a little uncomfortable admitting that given our set up.

      I hate loud noises and want natural light.

    3. what's a gravatar*

      That’s actually a great question, since I turned down a job that was an open office plan. Having it right out there what the office environment is and if that’s something the candidate is looking for can save a lot of time.

    4. Close Bracket*

      What if I am flexible enough to work with pretty much anything? Am I disqualified for not having a picture in my mind that I can describe? It really strikes me that it would be better to describe the working environment and ask about they would work within it.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        My ideal work environment is one where co-workers talk directly to one another in a positive manner, and gossiping is actively discouraged. I don’t care if it’s open plan, offices, or cubicles, though it would be nice if everyone can sit down at the same time.

  30. MsMaryMary*

    I think part of the problem is that most interviewers haven’t received any training. I am one of the few people I know who recieved any, and it was mostly on how to keep the company from being sued (don’t ask questions about age, marital status, children, race, etc). So then you end up with people googling How to Interview or basing their questions on what they’ve been asked in the past, or weird ideas on what candidates *should* be asked.

  31. blerghhh*

    I interviewed for a job where the first person who was supposed to interview me (who would be my direct supervisor if I took the job) was on a call at the time the interview was about to start. I was seated in a conference room and waited there, alone, for 15 minutes until a receptionist let me know that the interviewer would not be able to make his allotted time slot and so they were shuffling around the list of other interviewers. Minutes later 2 guys showed up to ask me questions, but they were frazzled and obviously not prepared since this was all happening earlier than originally scheduled for them. Although I understand that sometimes things come up, the whole experience felt disrespectful of my time and left a bad taste in my mouth.

    1. Argh!*

      So they were planning to review your resume 5 minutes before their appointed time? You really dodged a bullet there!

      1. blerghhh*

        Ehh, that part actually doesn’t bother me. I’m in the legal field and have been on the other side of these types of interviews in the past, and it’s not uncommon to spend only about 10 minutes before an interview looking over the candidate’s resume, at least for those who are at the same level as the candidate (i.e., not the partners/decision makers). Not saying it’s great, but it is very common.

  32. Student*

    I have a co-worker, Fred, who asks the weird question about which state you’d get rid of and why. When he asked that question on an interview panel I was on (as a fellow interviewer), I turned to him and said, “I’d be the jerk who eliminates whichever state you were born in, for asking that weird question.” It got some laughs and defused things a bit for the poor interviewee who had to answer.

    Later, Fred told me he’d heard a third fellow co-worker, Bob, ask it and that’s where he got it. Bob’s boss promptly banned Bob from participating in interviews after hearing Bob ask that question. The unstated implication I got was that Fred was also hoping to be banned from interviewing potential new hires, but it’d backfired on him – our boss thought it was a funny question (huge eye roll on my part) instead of banning Fred from interviews.

  33. MassMatt*

    I was involved in hiring for a large company, the positions were the upper end of entry level, people needed licenses/skills. HR would do the initial screening and forward resumes, and we would tell them who we wanted to interview. I was a first line manager, my manager and I would do the interviews, and we had no training or guidelines AT ALL. This was surprising, this was a multinational company, you would think they would at least try to cover their liability about age/gender/racial discrimination etc but nope. We winged it. Fortunately my manager had some experience hiring elsewhere and I think we did a good job (we did not ask what kind of tree you wanted to be, for example) but really if we had been wackos en those interviews could have gone terribly. I don’t know why companies leave interviewing new hires to people with no training or guidelines, it makes no sense.

  34. Argh!*

    I am a specialist in my field, with fewer than 500 people in the country doing my job or a similar one. So when I was looking for a job it was a big deal to get my first interview and I was psyched. I prepared for it, wore an outfit I bought with my “get-a-job” funds, and put on my happiest happy face. It was a day-long interview, and everything was going well (I thought) until I met my boss’s boss. She asked what was special about my specialty. I took this opportunity to demonstrate my expertise, basically enumerating all the things I know how to do that nobody else there can do. I was really satisfied with my answer.

    Then she said “That was a trick question. There’s nothing special about this position.”

    I went home conflicted about whether I wanted to work there, having just been reorganized out of my previous job, but I didn’t have to worry. I didn’t get the job because they decided the position wasn’t necessary.

    I saw her a couple of years later accepting a really big award at our big national conference.

    How does a person like that earn the respect of their colleagues when they treat people the way she treated me?

    Unfortunately, I was seated at the rear, so I couldn’t stick my leg out and trip her as she returned to her seat.

    1. Two personalities*

      Is this woman only like that in interviews? There was one job I interviewed for and got where a guy from upper management purposely acted like a jackass to see what you would do. He would say stuff like “You worked in Industry XYZ (unrelated to Job Interview Industry), those people must be difficult to work with” to see if I would agree. Of course, at the time I really wanted the role and he didn’t seem to bother me because I could see through his demeanor. I ended up getting the job and accepting. He wasn’t the most pleasant person to work with because he was the type of guy who would say “this is wrong” and not tell you what he actually wanted.

  35. SaltyPicasso*

    Once I had a job interviewer ask me, “If you had to move Mount Fuji to a new location, how would you do it?”

    I was pretty taken aback because the job interview had been pretty normal until that point. And it was for an administrative assistant job at an architecture firm. So…probably not anything close to actually having to move large mountains?

    Anyway, I said I’d just pick another mountain and swap their names. We could roll out one Google Maps update, and be done. I answered this earnestly – because I actually wanted the job up until she asked me that question.

    The interviewer very visibly did not like my answer and the tone of the interview changed from there.

    I still don’t know wtf she wanted me to say in response to that question.

    1. Me too*

      I really want to know how to “move it” too.

      Is there an “architectural way” to “move a mountain?” Does it mean something else in that industry? *eye roll*

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I would interpret the question as “How would you solve an insurmountable sounding problem”

      Off the top of my head here’s what my answer would be:

      The first step to solving a problem is to understand the problem. Is Mt Fugi in the way? Is Mt Fugi in danger in it’s current location? Or is there something else going on. Once the real problem is determined, then you can ask if moving Mt Fugi is the best course of action. Sometimes we find that what we think our solution is isn’t the best one. If we found that moving MT Fugi is the best course then I would pull together a team with the skills needed to for a project this size, I’d secure the proper funding, scope the project… blah blah blah…

      I liked your answer though!

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I should say I have a pretty high tolerance for playing the ‘what if’ game so I can usually sort of roll with these kind of questions.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Probably something about your thought process around choosing a new location and considerations for how many people would be involved, what kind of permissions you might need to seek, the effects on the environment, etc.

      Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time thinking about an impossible problem, and it frustrates me to no end that I’d be judged poorly for having common sense before logic.

      1. SaltyPicasso*

        Exactly – and to be clear, the position was not an architect or engineering role, and had no requirements to have that background. It was basically an entry-level position with your typical run of the mill administrative duties: order office supplies, answer phones, book travel, etc.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      Your answer was awesome. The interviewer must have been upset because you answered the question without giving the information she was looking for but didn’t ask for.

      I would have said, the same way that the Abu Simbel temples were moved (it was an incredible engineering feat). That wouldn’t have answered the hidden question either, but oh well. If you want to know how I’d handle logistics relevant to the actual job, then ask me what I’d do if I had to move a multi-stage conference from Location A to Location B or something realistic.

  36. Another Story*

    At my last job, the day to day team would interview the field staff we hired. We also received no training on how to interview people, not even the basic “don’t ask age/race/marital status/religion/etc.” I had heard that one of my colleagues, a woman in her 40s, state that she had never interviewed anyone before this job so she “didn’t know ‘how old are you?’ is illegal” to ask a candidate. She did ask this candidate this question and the candidate was about to answer, until the rest of the team jumped in and shouted “No, no, no! You don’t need to answer that. Pretend she didn’t ask that.”

    1. David*

      Just to point out, IANAL, I do not think it’s illegal to ask age or anything along those lines.

      The problem becomes if you use that information to make a hiring decision.

      But, how do the rejected candidates know that you didn’t use that information to make a decision? All it takes is someone to lawyer up and make the allegation then it becomes a giant PITA.

      Even if they don’t ask these types of questions, some of the hiring decisions I’ve heard about and been involved in have really bad optics anyways, i.e. you hire the attractive young blonde with questionable professional experience over others that look better on paper anyways.

      1. Another Story*

        Yep – I worked in an industry where looks are some of the reasons people were hired. (Not modeling or acting) Thanks for letting me know that it is not illegal to ask those questions, I had always been told that it was.

        Side note: I don’t plan on asking this question in future interviews (if I were to conduct any) but it’s good to know because someone has asked me “How old are you?” in an interview not to discriminate but because they were genuinely curious.

    2. Bea*

      It’s not illegal but as stated above it’s discouraged due to lawsuits that may be filed if you don’t hire them.

      So you ask Jim has age. He’s 42. You hire Paul, who’s 36. They look exactly the same on paper. It’s dicey. But you ask Jim and hire Tim who’s also 42, the case is shot because you hired someone over 40 regardless. It just leaves your butt hanging out there.

      Same with marriage status or kids.

      I have interviewed with so many people who bring up all the “shhh don’t ask that” questions. So far none have been sued or even warned of it.

      1. Student*

        You aren’t actually likely to get sued.

        You are more likely to make actual bad decisions if you have this information around to potentially bias you.

        The lawsuit threat is partially an earnest but irrational fear of being sued, partially a threat to keep you from violating the law accidentally by using the info in the question to make your decisions, and partially just CYA policy so that if the company does get taken to court they can hang an individual out to dry instead of eating the penalty themselves.

    3. kc89*

      until the rest of the team jumped in and shouted “No, no, no! You don’t need to answer that. Pretend she didn’t ask that.”

      they sound a little extra, I think it would have been better to tell the employee after the interview not to ask a candidate’s age

      1. Another Story*

        They were, in other ways besides this one. The employee quickly learned not to ask that kind of question.

  37. kc89*

    I think the worst interview I had was a very nice woman who didn’t ask me one question the entire 45 minutes, she just went into great depth talking about the job. I tried to jump in with relevant information about myself but it was a waste of time.

    Well the actual worst one may have been when a department store allowed anyone to schedule interviews online and then you show up to HR and they have no idea who you are or why you are there. I managed to be nice and professional enough during my two minute why are you here conversation to get a call back for a real interview and a job, but during my short time working there I saw so many people walk in expecting an interview only to be rudely turned away. It was an awful place.

    1. Bea*

      Omg your first one reminds me of the lady who launched into a sales pitch when she interviewed me. “Now these aren’t just any llama treats, they’re all natural organic llama treats! The ingredients come from the hills of Peru picked by highly trained llama treat farmers!!” no joke.

      I was interviewing for accounting…

      They called back and I was young so I ghosted instead of just flat out telling them I wasn’t interested.

      And my last job the owner just yammered on about the company, barely asked any questions…and go figure we hired people essentially on the spot because they seemed nice.

    2. Emelle*

      I had an interview like your first one. I had a realization halfway through her spiel that she had an internal hire and was required to check off that she had interviewed external candidates AND she was doing a favor to my friend that had recommended me for the job. She talked about the job, the office layout, where they go for lunch, how to avoid a tricky intersection nearby… And asked me 2 questions.

      I was so irritated because I had taken a half day from work and I had dressed up all week at work to cover for my interview. (“Ugh, I am so far behind on laundry and I am super busy this week so all I have are my Nice Pants.”)

    1. Close Bracket*

      Except aren’t IQ tests generally biased and problematic and pretty much measure one’s ability to take IQ tests?

      1. David*

        From people I’ve asked about this: it depends, but if you structure things right, it shouldn’t be a problem.

        For example, you apply to a job and they send you a link to an IQ test. Then they set they reject anyone who scores below 110. The issue is that they never asked any job related questions in the test or never paired it with other methods (as mentioned in the article). In other words, someone with a 109 IQ could do the job better than the person with a 150 score.

        And that doesn’t even address the validity of the test itself being used or that the employer is reading the results as intended.

        1. Close Bracket*

          > if you structure things right, it shouldn’t be a problem.

          > And that doesn’t even address the validity of the test itself being used

          Well, that’s exactly my point. IQ tests are biased and problematic and measure only the candidate’s ability to take IQ tests. You can’t structure your way around that.

    2. JustaTech*

      I wouldn’t call reference checking worthless. I’ve worked with people who would never have been hired if the boss had *actually* called the reference and asked even the most basic questions (“Is this guy impossible to work with?” “Yes.”)

  38. Close Bracket*

    I get a lot of ridiculous technical questions, like “What is the lens equation?” Like, how does quizzing me on subject matter that I won’t remember bc I took that class six years ago and haven’t used it since, and which I could look up in a text book if I needed it, help you evaluate me? That stuff drives me nuts, but it’s so common! I frequently don’t know the answer. I try to brush up on stuff that I actually used in the workplace, but there’s so much that I am bound not to know the answer to something. I don’t see what it tell them about me to rattle off equations or definitions.

  39. Bumble Beagle*

    I was recently contacted by a major employer and pitched a role that was a bulls-eye match. In the 4th interview (which seemed weird for an “only candidate” situation), I got up nerve to ask the hiring manager how she had chosen me for the role. Her answer was that SHE HAD NOT and that she was favouring another candidate. That pretty much took the wind out of my sails right there. I used vacation time up to take those interviews.

  40. Not Today Satan*

    By far the biggest theme on interviews I’ve gone on is the interviewers not making any attempt whatsoever to “sell” me on the job–they have an attitude that’s like, “impress me.” I would never, ever take a job where they act like that during the “recruitment” process. I don’t know how so many get away with it.

  41. Empty Sky*

    My first employer actually did a training session on interview skills. Part of the training was a role play session in which we learned to deal effectively with challenging interview situations. One person would be the interviewer, another would be the candidate, and was secretly given a card with a quality that they were to display in the interview. (The person that gives a lot of one word answers and is difficult to draw out, the person that talks for way too long and goes into far too much detail, the person that keeps trying to introduce personal info that’s illegal to use for hiring decisions, and so on.) Then they would do the interview, everyone else would watch, and there would be a debrief afterward in which everyone would say what they thought had gone well or badly and offer suggestions for improvement.

    It was a lot of fun and very helpful. I got to be the guy who won’t shut up and it was WAY too easy for me. I was answering my first question and was deep into a story form answer with lots of commentary and amusing asides when I remember realizing: “I’m not going to stop, ever, unless he interrupts me” followed by “Fair enough, let’s see how he handles it.” The interviewer did eventually learn to be assertive about interrupting, took control of the interview, and made it work. His biggest problem was keeping a straight face, as the audience had figured out pretty quickly what must be on my card and was cracking up.

  42. Fluff*

    Oh my – mine was less the actual interviews and more the logistics. A last minute (the same day) extension way past lunch hour (afternoon) for what was supposed to be only a morning interview. Internal promotion to tea pot division director with interview at the main office.
    1. I had to arrange work coverage last minute because it was for an internal promotion and I expected the interviews to be only in the morning.
    2. Had to pay for an uber to take me back because my ride could not come and get me at the now later time (yes, I arranged transportation in advance based on their original schedule and my car issues that week, partner made arrangements to drop me off and get me – he could not change on that short notice). I mentioned this when they contacted me that same morning to extend the schedule and at the interview and no offer to reimburse me (am I crazy here?).
    3. No lunch – interview went through lunch -> past lunch – so back at work starrrrving. There was no time for munchies whereas in the original schedule it would have been fine. I also had to relieve the person who was covering for me. I felt bad because this was not the result of an emergency.
    4. No greeter / no info / nothing, had to find my way around to conference/interview room at start. Yes I was early to allow for problems and there were (person in building I was supposed to be at sent me to the wrong building, and employee in wrong building knew to send me back to correct building). I was early enough that this was not an impact (except having the breathe my annoyance away).
    5. No info on salary – just a look of “OMG Fluff asked”
    6. Interviews went ok.

    I think they forgot, even for internal candidates that interviews are both ways.

  43. Orbit*

    Years ago I interviewed for a job, were they asked the perfectly legitimate question -explain a time when you went above and beyond in your job.

    And then followed up with – and how did that make you feel?-

    I have no idea what the “right” answer for that is. I answered “umm good I guess?” My interviewer looked annoyed and disappointed in my answer.

    I did not get the job. Lol

  44. Bryeny*

    @Alison, do you have a post that talks about exercises designed to evaluate a candidate’s strengths in particular tasks or subject areas related to a job? I couldn’t find one. It’s something you’ve mentioned, along with crafting interview questions for the same purpose. I think examples would be really useful — sample questions, but even more, small (quick to complete) projects that uncover strengths and weaknesses in how the applicant handles a difficult client, say, or weighs and integrates information from disparate sources, or uncovers a problem in a spreadsheet. It could be done as an ask-the-readers post.

  45. londonedit*

    My worst interview was fairly early in my career. I’d had a first interview with the person who would have been my immediate boss, and that went really well – it was very relaxed and chatty, and they even let me know before I left that they would be strongly recommending me for a second interview, which they framed as ‘a chance to come in and meet some more members of the team’.

    Sure enough, I got a second interview, and (possibly naively, but I hadn’t had a lot of interview experience) I was expecting a similarly relaxed and chatty situation. Well, nope. The interview was in a big meeting room with a huge table – I was told to sit at one end, and there was a panel of about five people at the other end. Hugely intimidating. They then proceeded to pick my CV and experience apart – there was one particular project that I’d personally championed and worked on, which I was really proud of because it was above the sort of level that someone in my then-current job would usually be working at. It happened to be a funny gift book, and they visibly rolled their eyes, acted like they thought it was utterly ridiculous, and at one point told me they wanted me to answer the rest of the questions ‘WITHOUT mentioning [project I was really proud of]’. Suffice to say I didn’t get that job!

  46. Bookworm*

    I didn’t have anything quite like this but the worst are the ones who really don’t know how to interview. They ranged from someone who obsessed over why I left a particular job and would not let up until I finally gave in, interviewers who were *clearly* not interested in the interview at all, one who kept interrupting the other interviewer, one who who was super condescending for an internship and offered to let me have a “trial” because she “liked me” and thought I deserved a chance.

    I’ve certainly accepted interviewers/moving through the process despite bad interviews and jobs because I needed the money. But really, there are some truly dreadful interviewers out that that convey a terrible face of the job.

  47. Michaela Westen*

    Alison, if you haven’t already, could you write a guide on how to be a good interviewer? If I’m ever in the position of having to interview, this is the first place I’ll look! :)

  48. Stephanie*

    I never got over my worst/weirdest interview, in that even though I accepted the job, it was hard for me to ever respect my boss, and I left after a year. I applied for a position as the only accounting staff for a small arts organization. This is a very technical and key position! After talking with the director on the phone for about 2 minutes, he invited me to come in for an interview that week. When I showed up, he said hello and then took off for an appointment, leaving me with the person I’d be replacing. She told me all about what the job entailed and asked me a couple things, but not real interview questions. I got the impression she had been invited to meet me, but hadn’t been asked to conduct an interview. After leaving I emailed the director, thanking him, and asked if he wanted to schedule a call or had any questions for me (I assumed his appt had been a last-minute or emergency thing and that he had meant to actually interview me). He called and offered the job. All he had asked me up to that point was a) how long my commute would be, b) what days I wanted to work (it was a part-time job), and c) what rate I was looking for. This was a huge red flag but I accepted the job because I needed the additional work. It was a terrible job and he was the worst supervisor I’ve ever had. I learned that he never really interviewed anyone and this is a huge indicator of a terrible communicator who just wants bodies in chairs. When I gave my notice I asked to interview whoever he liked for my replacement, in case he did the same thing to them. He did, but I actually interviewed the candidate and was able to feel confident I was leaving my hard work for the last year in capable hands. If this ever happens to me again, I will run.

  49. Weyrwoman*

    I was brought in for an interview once to discover that it was a group interview. As part of the group interview, they put us into groups of 3, gave each group a small Lego set, and the following instructions: Only one person gets to read the instructions. The others must follow the instructions as given to them by the person. Something like every five minutes the interviewers would move a person to the next group, and swap the instruction-reader as well.

    This was for a job that was mostly going to be racking servers in a server farm.

  50. Elizabeth W.*

    I was once asked at an interview, “If you could get rid of any U.S. state, which one would you pick?

    I wonder what would happen if I answered “This one!” :D

  51. Of Argonauts Fame*

    I once interviewed for a documentation job at a medical technology company, and the only work-related question I got asked was “Have you ever used FrameMaker?” (The response to my “Yes” was just “Okay, great.”) The rest of the hour and a half was the hiring manager talking about his coin and stamp collections, which included several coins which featured sexual or scatological imagery, which he described in great detail. I turned down the job offer, and had to stop taking the calls of the recruiter who kept cajoling me to take the job even after I told him about the interview.

Comments are closed.