Strange job interview questions. What's their purpose?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 06, 2008 8:27 PM GMT
    Today I went for a job interview and was asked some of the most odd/peculiar/strange questions ever. And in the past few months I've been to plenty of interviews and I can usually predict what I'm going to be asked. The following questions had me flummoxed.

    Here's a flavour of some of the questions:

    Them: Give us three words that your friends would use to describe you.

    Them: Now, use three words that people who don't like you would use to describe you.

    Me: Eh? What! Are you serious?

    Them: What would you do if one of your team had body odour and their colleagues were making complaints about him/her?

    Me: I'd take him/her for a drink down the pub and tell him/her they had BO.

    Them: What feature would you change about yourself?

    Them: What's the most difficult question you've ever asked someone that you've interviewed for a job?
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    Feb 06, 2008 9:01 PM GMT
    OK, those questions seem a bit weird. The only reason I can think of is, just like with all other weird questions, they're supposed to tell the interviewer about some other deeper issue that can't be found at the surface of the question. What those issues are could be up for debate.
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    Feb 06, 2008 9:11 PM GMT
    They sound much like the line of questions I use when I am starting to diagnose someone with a personality disorder...
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    Feb 06, 2008 9:40 PM GMT
    Well, they were editors of medical journals so maybe... I'm insaaaaaaaaaaane.
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    Feb 06, 2008 9:47 PM GMT
    i think it might depend on the position you were applying for as well. the "3 words" one is to see how you feel you are perceived by others. now if they hire you, and issues arise within a team, they'll know if you knew your weaknesses or not. and if you listed them, why didn't you work on those. so hopefully you'll be aware of yourself and how you act around people above or below you, and should change accordingly.

    the body odor one. simple, to see how you would deal with a situation where one person has to be singled out and to see if you can deal with it in an appropriate manner and not be all like "hey bob. you freakin stink". this one comes in to play as a leader or a peer.

    the feature thing... i like that one alot. could say alot a persons self confidence. i feel like u were applying for a leadership position so they we're trying to judge how much self confidence you have up to the point of being egotistical.
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    Feb 06, 2008 10:19 PM GMT
    I get it now about how people perceive you, I kind of thought that's what they were getting at. But by answering it you may be telling them something they don't want to know about, like, say, you're insensitive or uncaring or something.

    The BO problem, I'd just take them to one side and let them know they had hygiene issues.

    Feature-wise I just said obviously I'd want to be much better looking. That one got a laugh. Said they hadn't heard that one before. So who knows, it was a managerial position but only a short term contract so it seemed a bit of overkill to me.
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    Feb 06, 2008 10:37 PM GMT
    Sounds like they want to know how you would deal with problems and how you work with people.
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    Feb 06, 2008 11:08 PM GMT
    Sounds like they've read too many of those silly "Five Steps to Great Management" books, which include any quantity of psychobabble. When I interview people, I ask only two questions.

    1. Are you willing to lie for me to a Congressional committee?

    and

    2. Will you let me fuck you?
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    Feb 06, 2008 11:14 PM GMT
    The body odor question is not unusual and has become pretty standard when interviewing at least in retail management. It is usually brought up when the interviewer is having a tough time getting read on how the candidate might approach sensitive and potentially embarrassing situations. I have been asked that question in a couple interviews and have used it myself when interviewing potential managers. The "three words" is pretty common as well, but I've usually heard it in the one word format. "What's the most difficult question you've ever asked someone that you've interviewed for a job?" isn't that odd either. It gives the interviewer some insight into your own experience and approach in interviewing other people.

    The 'what feature about yourself would you change?' is a little odd however. More often it is asked what would you change about yourself to make you more successful in the workplace or something along those lines.


    In my experience, the interview you are describing is probably one of the more typical cookie cutter formats out there. Not the best way to do it, but popular and acceptably effective. I don't know your field, work history or how often you've interviewed over the years, but I'm actually a little concerned that you found the questions odd...lol
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Feb 07, 2008 11:32 AM GMT
    I don't think that they are SO unusual
    ... they are fairly probing questions that deal with decision making and thought process analysis

    Good luck with the job hunting btw icon_wink.gif
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    Feb 07, 2008 11:57 AM GMT
    my favorite is the immediate question:

    why should i hire you?


    she literally just sat down, introduced herself and asked me this question.
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    Feb 07, 2008 2:36 PM GMT
    Employers don't have time to waste and they are not only interested in your hands on skills, they want to know what is your perception of yourself.

    So if you have a huge zit on your face and try to hide it, use it to your advantage when they ask, "what would you change about yourself?" And you better have a good answer as to what your weakness is.

    I inveviewed for years and the first five minutes I have made my decision. I was correct 95% of the time. It was all based on what you guys call crazy questions.

    In general people don't know themselves and everyone in the world feels that they are best for the job! WHY? So next time you go for an interview, take yourself on a little date and get to know yourself. Be upfront and honest too, cause others see things that you don't.







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    Feb 07, 2008 2:54 PM GMT
    My company (financial services software) intentionally asks stressful brainteasers in interviews, but personally relevant questions can be stressful too. We're interested in watching someone's thought process when under stress and their demeanor when not working from within their comfort zone. I hated receiving these questions but have to admit that they've proven helpful in weeding out the candidates who will crack under pressure.
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    Feb 07, 2008 3:38 PM GMT
    To...

    "Now, use three words that people who don't like you would use to describe you."

    ...you should have replied...

    "Cute, hot and sexy. They're jealous. Next question. That one was a throwaway."
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    Feb 07, 2008 3:40 PM GMT
    Those are the same questions I use to get when I use to interview for retail jobs. I thinki they come from a corporate template. i use to hate asking those questions.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:29 PM GMT
    these are all pretty standard

    they want to know your strengths weaknesses, and perceptions of your self plus how you interact with others.
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:30 PM GMT
    be careful with the last question because the invariable follow up would be and how would you answer that question
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    Feb 07, 2008 4:46 PM GMT
    we got those questions for our company too. They reveal your personality and also how fast you react. How not to say anything yet still give a good answer!


  • LoganITGuy

    Posts: 31

    Feb 07, 2008 5:19 PM GMT
    I'll agree with everyone that those are pretty typical today. Interviews go beyond the "what is your strength & what is your biggest weakness." I've been in the position to interview technical people for a few years and they all have great technical skills on paper. What I'm concerned about is how well they can critically approach an unknown situation. Books are great, but how well do you do when there is no guide. So I ask them the extremely non-technical situation (and I'll be asking this next month when I hire a new Operations Manager...)

    Our boss, the Executive Director, just realized he had lost his most prized needle last night in a haystack. There is no budget & time is of the essence...how are you going to go about finding that needle.

    You wouldn't believe how many people flat out die on this question. The main purpose is for them to ask me questions. Where is the haystack. How big is it. How big is the needle. What's the needle made of. Stuff like that. I vary my answers depending on the questions that the person asks me.

    The only wrong answer is inaction. I'm guessing that most other people are getting deeper into how someone thinks and not just what's on the resume. How does an interviewee prepare? Not sure on that one. Think creative, talk outloud, and most of all, don't just sit there and shrug your shoulders.

    Good Luck!!!!!

  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Feb 07, 2008 5:47 PM GMT
    Reminds me of the days of psychological "interviews" (read: interrogations) before I was chosen to spend a year down in the Antarctic...I was prepped well in advance to answer all the "B" questions, i.e. "A" = too much of a loner and "C" = too much of a socialite....

    I went through some similar type questions when applying for a job at The Weather Channel. I think at the end of the day, being honest is the best policy since do you really want to work for/with a bunch of psychos just because you lied your way through the interview and unknowingly fitted their "psycho" profile?

    Well, now, I just contradicted myself...I answered all the "B" questions, knowing most were false. But I REALLY did want to go on that expedition AND yes, some of my team mates were psychos....but then again, anyone wanting to spend a year stuck with ONLY 6 other straight men is probably not normal either - LOL! icon_twisted.gif But it was the best year of my life!

    PEACE

    daWeatherMan icon_twisted.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Feb 07, 2008 6:20 PM GMT
    When I interviewed potential employess... I'd ask a curb ball question to see how quick you think on your feet!icon_biggrin.gif

    ksportwear:

    Is right you have pretty much made up your mind after the first 5 minutes if you will ask the interviewee back for a second interview.
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    Feb 17, 2008 10:59 PM GMT
    Interview update: I had a second interview last week where they asked me more strange questions and came up with more weird scenarios.

    Later that day I was offered the job! I've accepted it and will start mid March.

    I think I will go on holiday a week before I begin. Where shall I go? Texas beckons.
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    Feb 17, 2008 11:15 PM GMT
    They are by the vast majority designed to throw you and see what you can answer off the cuff rather than have sat home and prepared and scripted off by heart.

    I've heard the BO one before it's to see how you would resolve conflicts