4 Questions that Make You Look Like a Numbskull Interviewer

By Clair M - Mar. 16, 2014
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Numbskull interviewer asks idiotic questionsLet’s call me Clair.

I’ve jumped in with the RecruitLoop team on a couple of projects as a freelancer this past year while I wandered around Europe. Needless to say, it’s been one sweet ride of awesome.

Now I’m back in my home country and doing the dreaded deed: interviewing for a full time job.

This week I have four interviews, all with amazing organisations that I thought ‘wouldn’t have any openings’ until I managed to get one of their Directors drunk enough to let me take compromising photos. It’s been a couple of weeks of hit-and-misses to get to this point.

Applying for a job is really intimidating. That is, until you meet the interviewer. For some organisations, it’s around about at that point you start wondering what amazing genius marketed this company into something that looked like it had the nuance to actually deliver results for its clients. Quite honestly – there are some dumb-ass interviewers out there. Some of them are recruiters, which is truly scary cos that’s their day job.

Here are the dumbest questions I’ve been asked by recruiters and hiring managers and start up owners and managing directors just three weeks into this pitiful charade we call ‘finding a job’, complete with the responses I wish I could have given.

If you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter, please don’t use these. Ever.

“Can you give me an example of when you worked as part of a team?”

“When I was 6 I was part of the egg-and-spoon race Blue Team. We decided we wanted to win, ran as hard as we could while making sure the egg didn’t fall off the spoon and would have won if Stacey hadn’t tripped over at the last minute. I stuck my tongue out at her and told her she was a poo-face.”
Everyone works as part of a team. Unless you’re a permanent freelancer, in which case you wouldn’t be interviewing for a full time job, would you? I’m not 14 years old applying for my first job at Maccas. I’m also not completely stupid and going to give you an answer about a teamwork experience that makes me look like the control-freak I am. So what you’re going to get is a pat answer about some famous-five-style-moment that I most probably made up based on a conglomerate of my memories. No-one walks away from a work day saying “Wow, that was a great teamwork experience!”

On a side note, I was asked this question only to discover that the role worked completely autonomously out of a remote location. I think it would’ve been way more important to know how I coped with being by myself all day?

“And how do the other companies you are interviewing with compare with This Company?”

“I love them and I hate you. I’ve spent two days preparing for this third-stage half hour job trial because I’m pretty sure I’m getting my dream job from another company first thing tomorrow.”

I am never going to tell you that I like another company more than yours. If you want to hear that I think yours is the most incredible company to ever be pooped out of the brain of a genius start-up child, I will tell you that. If you want to hear that this role has been my dream since I was playing with Barbies, I will tell you that. If you want to hear that I think all your competitors suck and that I’m just going to the interviews for ‘industry research purposes’ I will tell you that. (Actually I did tell you that, minus the suck part.)

The goal of a candidate in my position – unemployed for good reason (travelling) and transferring industries – is to collect as many job offers as she can before finally accepting the best one she can get preferably before all her money runs out. This is not a sign of instability. It is a sign of prudence and risk-management. She’s not going to sit around hoping you offer her your job only to discover she didn’t get it and has to start the process of convincing another company to hire her all over again while forking out developed country expenses (Brie cheese is $7 in Australia. $7!) on a Southern European traveller’s income (Spain, I miss you…).

This question also tells me you’re afraid of rejection. So you’ve found an awesome candidate. She’s being interviewed by other companies. Are you trying to make sure you don’t offer a candidate a job that she’s going to turn down? Will that make you feel bad about your apparently awesome company and go home and cry in your pillow? Offer the job to the person who you think would be the best for it. If they turn it down, then offer the job to the person you thought would be second best for it. It’s pretty straight-forward. Don’t let your ego do you out of a seriously awesome candidate. Which I may or may not be, I’m just saying.

Well, this is an entry-level role, do you think it’s really right for you?

‘Oooooh I didn’t realize, Ms Recruiter, that when you put the title ‘Junior Anything’ on the job ad description you meant I would actually be taking home a less-than-average wage and doing primarily administration tasks that I last did when I was a highschool graduate.’

I applied for this job because I want to get a foot into the industry. It’s a cool industry and I’m not the only one that wants in. Once I get in, your client is gonna love me so much they’ll give me heaps of responsibility, probably for a decent period of time without paying me appropriate remuneration. I know these things. I’m okay with these things. I can’t believe you ignored my application. And my follow up phone calls.

In fact, that annoyed me so much that I sent my resume directly to every Insert Company Type Here in Sydney because you wouldn’t tell me who your client was. Two of them called me within the week and now I don’t know which job to accept just so I can ruin your day. And commissions.

“Are you still looking for a job?”

“I sent my resume to you yesterday. That doesn’t warrant the use of the word ‘still’.”

I’m not a rabbit. I don’t bounce from one thing to another just because the sun went down and came back up again. I’m also not a desperate long term unemployed person, which is what saying ‘Yes’ to your question makes me feel like. I guess I could take it as a compliment that you thought another company had managed to scan my resume, interview me, perform background and reference checks, negotiate pay and get me to sign a contract all within a period of 7.5 business hours but more likely I’m going to take it as a sign that you a) have terrible people skills, b) are confused about the logistics involved in hiring a person or c) a combination of both.

I will meet with you, but I won’t be looking forward to it.


Clair M

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