Almost blew the easiest job interview question

Got laid off a couple of months ago, have been on Indeed and other sites sending out applications. Got a request for phone interview yesterday for call center rep, remote, for a bank. I had that job for a year in 2016 in between “real” jobs. It would be OK for now. Didn’t rehearse answers before the interview. I know the job and what they want , was sure I would be able to give acceptable answers to whatever was asked. But I didn’t think about what I would say if I was asked why I wanted to work for that company. Which is a standard question.

“Because I really want a job” would not be an acceptable answer, now would it*? Just improvising I said something about how I went to their webpage (which I did five minutes before), and saw that they were a well-established company and the reviews from employess on Indeed were good. They were, all two of them.

The interview went well, I would be very surprised if I don’t get an offer. But could have blown it if I had nothing to say for that question.

So any stories of stupid answers you have given in interviews?

*don’t really need a job for a month or two, but will take one if I get an offer

When I interviewed for a full-time faculty position at a community college I spent weeks preparing. I put together a lesson plan on the chance I would be called to do a teaching demo, I queried some of my past colleagues and friends who were current CC instructors on what kind of questions they had been asked, I had my family run me through mock interviews… the works. I thought I was as prepared as possible.

When the interview day came, I made myself little crib sheets I studied all that morning, drank some rosemary tea (an old hippie woman I had taken care of in my hospice work days had claimed that helps calm nerves), and did my best to psych myself up.

The very first question: “Lancia, what are the three types of learning styles, and how do you incorporate all three into your classroom pedagogical strategy?”

"Well, there’s auditory, visual, and… … … uh… …


well, hands-on. I incorporate them by…"

I pulled a complete blank. I simply could not remember the word “kinesthetic.” I still cannot believe it. I was sure that I bombed the interview right then and there. All the remaining questions were canned “tell me a time in which you blah blah blah.” Afterward I went to a public park and sat in my car and, for the first time ever, wanted to get shitfaced drunk.

Kinesthetic, goddamit.

I was offered the position, though.

Just looking it up, never heard that word before, “hands on” seems fairly close, certainly if your response after … was good.

But, general rule, if interviewing for a job you really want, you always think you did badly

I didn’t have a job interview. I took a written civil service test. But forty years later, I can still remember one of the questions. So see if you have the know how to be a prison guard.

You are supervising a crew of minimum security prisoners cleaning up litter at a state park. You are the only guard supervising the crew. You do not have a radio or firearm.

One of the prisoners starts running and heads into the woods. Which of the following should you do?

  1. Gather up the other prisoners and immediately return to the prison.
  2. Pursue the escaping prisoner into the woods.
  3. Remain at the scene. Have one of the other prisoners drive back to the prison to summon assistance.
  4. Have the other prisoners spread out and look for the escaping prisoner.

I think it has to be option 1. But I’m probably not suited to be a prison guard, so I won’t be too disappointed if I’m wrong.

To the OP, it looks like you did a good job of thinking up an acceptable answer on the spot, which is part of what interviews are about. If it’s an entry level position, you probably did better than most other candidates.

Interviewing for a moonlighting* job as a flight instructor. In years past these interviews had never been much, but the school owner and chief pilot made this one more formal. I wasn’t expecting any trendy interview stuff and hadn’t prepared at all, but managed their questions OK. When they asked: “What is your main, overarching goal in this job?” I drew a blank for a minute and finally said: “To never be on the news.” They looked at each other, then started laughing. Finally the owner said he thought staying off the evening news was a pretty good goal for his flight school. I got the job.

*I believe whippersnappers call this a “side hustle” nowadays.

Excuse my ignorance, but having been a free lancer all my life I have never had a job interview. Reading the OP I get the impression that there are questions that come up often like the one he quoted (I have also read of: what was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it? What are your strong / your weak points?) and that there are either correct answers or true answers to those questions. So am I correct in assuming that both sides in those interviews know that the aswers given are not sincere? Are those interviews evaluating how well you rehearsed and how convincingly you make the right stuff up? Or am I being too cynical? Because that does not necessarily match the best candidates to the right jobs, but covers the ass of the interviewer, as he can always claim it is the standard practice if the cadidate chosen turns out to be a bad choice.

The interview method of “Tell me a time when you X”, which has become overwhelmingly pervasive to the point nobody seems to use any other method any more, is a terrible method to find the best person for the job unless “Bullshitting” is a primary requirement .(Spin Doctor, car salesman etc.).

For all normal jobs, these questions are a blagger’s charter that prioritise people who lie convincingly over those who would just get on and do the job.

@Little_Nemo: Even without a lick of knowledge about corrections work, the obvious answer would have to be 1.Gather up the prisoners and head back to the prison

because all the other choices involve leaving one or more (of the other) prisoners unsupervised, and that would be absolutely incorrect.

Do I get the job?

I don’t know if this would be considered the easiest question, but it’s certainly one of the most common: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Except I was interviewing for a clearly advertised 6-month temporary position to help eliminate a backlog. I was retired at the time looking to pick up a little extra cash for an upcoming vacation. There was absolutely nothing in the job announcement to indicate it might lead to anything permanent.

So when the question was asked, it took everything I had not to laugh out loud or ask “Are you serious?” After what felt like a ridiculously long pause on my part, I said “Well, I hope to be retired for real.”

FWIW, I did get the job, it was almost exactly 6 months till I quit, even tho they’d have let me stay on - there were serious issues with a coworker that pushed me over the edge. And five years later, I was actually in a full-time position with another company, and I retired from there about 6 years after the interview in question. So who knew??

Although hardly applicable in your case, I remember a movie set in 30s Germany where the protagonist is seeking work as a functionary in the NSDAP. He’s being interviewed by a brown shirt behind a desk who asks, “Just why do you want to work for the Party?”

“Well, to be honest, I’m out of work and broke.”

The brown shirt blinks at him a moment, then breaks out into an enormous grin. “I must say, your response is most refreshing compared to all of the bullshit I’ve been fed today,” and puts his resume in the for further consideration pile.

@Little_Nemo, surely the correct answer would be “I wouldn’t be in that situation, because regulations require a guard working alone to have a radio at all times”?

I worked for the Department of Transportation, State of Confusion. I was of a group of young employees who combed the job announcements when they first came out. And if I met the qualifications for any job that paid more than my current position, I’d apply. It’s one of the tried-and-true behaviors of having a permanent position in State Service. It’s one way to advance, LOL!

The job was in Transportation Planning, for a Rideshare Coordinator. I had no burning desire to work in Transportation Planning (I was in Right-of-Way Engineering at the time), but it was more money, so I figured, “Why not?”

The interview began with introductory information, and some general questions about my qualifications. Then one of the interviewers asked me if I personally participated in Rideshare. I did not. I was asked “Why?”

I slipped and slid around and stumbled, to eventually fall down the rabbit hole. I remember thinking, “Oh, God, can we start this all over again?”

I slunk out of the room, my tail firmly clamped between my legs, and returned to my job elsewhere.

And I never heard back from that interview.


I went for an interview for a job that was offering twice my current salary. Unfortunately, the day of the interview, I was really suffering from either a cold or flu, so doped myself up on some OTC meds. There was also a howling blizzard going on. By the time I got there, I was really feeling like shit and when I sat down with the CEO and another high ranking guy, I hastened to tell them that I wasn’t at my best that day. She began by asking a question that involved a lot of corp-speak, like “Given the dynamic of the boobalah, how would you leverage the folderol to maximize your indices for the jabberwocky?” I had no idea what she had just said to me, so after a hesitation, I asked “Can I buy a vowel?”

They looked at each other in stunned silence, and then started laughing. I actually got the job.


Brilliant comeback, Chefguy!

Under the same circumstances, my reply would have been the brilliant, “Huh?”


“Huh?” was my only other option. It turns out that after I fixed all their problems in six months, they laid me off. It really pissed me off, as I had left a job where I was tenured and had a great crew working for me, just to chase the money.

By the way, best interview I ever had was with a VP of a hospital chain, in a big corporate office. She started chatting about her job and some commonalities we had, that segued into how much our current jobs were similar, and we ended up laughing at crazy situations that always seem to come up in our field.

She’d mentioned she only had an hour, so at the fifty minute mark I asked “Should we start on the interview?” She looked at me with a smirk and said “What do you think I’ve been doing? The interview ended ten minutes ago.”

It’s amazing to see why interviewers never seem to make that connection. Asking trite questions such as the one you mentioned ( or “where do you see yourself in five years?” ) is either a de-facto admission that they’re either mindlessly hidebound, or that they actually “want” a bullshitter.

Of course there’s the queen mother of all the lamest of hackneyed questions, usually sprung to open the interview: ( interviewer leans back, as if to watch a film ) and says: “Tell me about yourself

The best one I had was with a woman who was the project manager for a $20M jet hanger facility. They needed a quality control manager. I walked in the door, she looked up, I said “Hi, I’m here to interview for the position.” She said “Can you start today?” It turned out to be a horrible job, but the interview was great.

The dumbest question I was ever asked was for a job with GSA. A woman on the panel asked me “What noun best describes you?” My immediate mental response was “What an idiotic thing to ask, and shouldn’t it be ‘adjective’, not noun?” That pedantic thought threw me into a spinout and I couldn’t come up with a noun. I should have said “humanoid”. I didn’t get that job, but my wife did.

LOL that your particular story jogged this memory of a former co-worker, but here goes…

I was working at a hotel several decades ago in a somewhat strenuous job. One of my co-workers mentioned he was trying to be a police officer, and had just had an interview for the position. Not sure whether it was for an academy seat, or what, but anyway, it involved a psychological battery of tests (which we couldn’t figure if, since he was a little intense he’d fail, or be perfect for) and an interview with a panel of older officers.

“Mr. Doe, why do you want to be a police officer?”

“Because it looks like a stable job, with good benefits, and salary, for someone with my education.”

They commended him on his honesty. Per him, “Everyone else tries to bullshit us with, ‘I want to serve my community,’ ‘from a young child, I wanted to be a cop,’” and so on. No idea if he got the job, or if he did time for official oppression after he got the job.