The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

August 13, 2013

Be prepared for odd interview questions along with the routine

By Diane Stafford
The Kansas City Star (MCT)

— Enter “dumb interview questions“ in a search engine, and you can spend hours reading examples from job hunters and human resource professionals alike.

The interesting thing is not everyone agrees what questions are stupid.

Some interviewers ask, “If you were a tree/cookie/animal, what would you be?“ They say the answer gives insight into candidates’ creativity and ability to think on their feet.

Others think that question deserves a response like, “What relevance does that have to the job? I’d rather respond to a real job-related problem.“

Another question that earns derision is, “What is your greatest weakness?“ Some people think the safe-harbor answer is, “I’m a workaholic/perfectionist.“ Who could argue against someone who works hard and pays attention to detail?

Others say that’s a no-win answer. Ditto with claiming no weaknesses. Better, perhaps, to say, “I can be brutally honest, and that’s a question you’ll never get an honest answer to.“

Given the nature of the job market since 2008, here’s another question that grates: “Where do you see yourself in five years?“ Some interviewers say it speaks to ambition, tenacity and loyalty.

To which others say, “Ha!“ No one can predict job status five years out. Best to say, “I hope to be a productive contributor in a valued position.“ Don’t snap, “I expect to have your job,“ or “I plan to own the company.“

Job applicants need to be prepared for: “Tell me about yourself.“ “Why do you want this job?“ and “Tell me about a time when you solved a problem“ (or something else “behavioral“).

The jury is out on whether the first two requests are dumb. Expect them anyway. Many job interviewers believe they open windows to a candidate’s character.

Ideally, interviewers have job-relevant questions. Ideally, interviewers and applicants hold conversations that help both determine “fit“ for the job.



To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to staffordkcstar.com. Follow her online at kansascity.com/workplace and twitter.com/kcstarstafford.