Interview question inappropriate to the profession?

This came up in work today.

There is always one interviewer who insists on asking The au courant question, even when it is completely inappropriate to the profession.

When I was starting out, the question was:

Why should I hire you rather than any other candidate?

I was applying for jobs in research. Obviously, I could not answer the question without data, i.e. a careful review and verification of all the candidates’ applications. Not surprisingly, I never got the job where I gave that answer.

So, what completely inappropriate interview questions have you dealt with?

I once interviewed for a software engineer position at a company that went bankrupt three months later. After answering all the usual questions about my background, skills, and programming hypotheticals, the big boss walks in and drops this bomb:

Boss: So, how does Google work?
Me: Can you be more specific?
Boss: What I mean is, how does Google work?
Me: Are you asking about their indexing, or how their search engine works, or their clustering technology? Their MapReduce implementation?
Boss: How does Google work?
Me: Well, I don’t really know what you’re asking, because Google is a huge company with dozens of products, and you could be referring to anything from their secret data center operations to the local septic system at their office park.

A thirty second pause as the Boss considers this answer

Boss: Interesting answer.

Then he left.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

Why should I hire you rather than any other candidate?

You can answer this by saying, I do not know skills of others, but I feel I am suited for this as I have so and so skillsets…

I do not think it is inappropriate as such.

“Cause I’m such a stud!”

The last interview I was on, the guy asked four questions to see how I’d “fit”. One was, “Who is your favorite comedian?” I was caught off guard, so I said the first one who popped into my head, “Eddie Izzard”. I mean, I liked the Eddie Izzard routines I’ve seen, but I haven’t seen one since probably 1999. Luckily, he didn’t ask a follow up. I have no idea what he thought my answer told him. He did hire me, though.

When I’m sitting at my desk, writing code, I often think, “What would Eddie Izzard do?”

Not really.

Do you have children?

It was a job for waitressing and honestly that question is inapropriate for any profession. I did at the time and no I didn’t get the job. I knew the question was wrong but I had no clue it was basically illegal for many years.

These days I’m self employed and the most inappropriate things I ask myself are usually something like “you don’t want to do this now do you?” and “let’s find something to eat.”

Big shot lawyer: Did you take trial practice with me?
KSO (many years ago, when she was younger and dumber): No, I took it with so-and-so
BSL: I didn’t think so. I would have remembered those beautiful blue eyes.
KSO: :eek:

That kind of threw me off…

Then there was the interview with a judge who told me he wanted to hire a woman as his clerk because they are “more detail-oriented.” :rolleyes:

He’d be looking for the souris sous la table probably.

I don’t know who Eddie Izzard is. In order to avoid finding out, I’m substituting Eddie Van Halen, with generally hilarious results to the question “What would Eddie Van Halen do”.

I suppose, in the theme of comedians, I ought to be using Eddie Murphy.

Which raises the question “What would Audie Murphy do?”

On the average, women are more detail oriented (at least in my experience). What’s so offensive about that?

It’s stupid.

that depends on the job. Perhaps attention to detail isn’t very important in the legal profession (IANAL), but it is in other professions. And an ability to move quickly and not worry about details is important in other situations. So I think the observation is relevant. There are times when a detail person is most appropriate and times when that isn’t the best skill for the job. You may be concerned that the interviewer generalized to all women, but certainly in my experience women are better at paying attention to details than men are. There are many exceptions, but in general. Where I would be upset is if the interviewer limited his search for a detail-oriented person to observing the sex of the applicant. If the interviewer needs a detail person, then look for one. Interviewing women increases his chances of finding same.

“Why should I hire you rather than another candidate?” is not inappropriate. It offers the candidate an opportunity to sell him or herself, extoll his virtues and give the interviewer the slam dunk reason why the candidate is better than all the others. It’s perfectly relevant.

“How many children do you have?” is inappropriate. It’s irrelevant to the candidate’s ability to do the job and has no place in the decision-making process.

I guess the only marginally inappropriate question I’ve ever been asked was something along the lines of “so, what do you like to do in your spare time?”, although I guess that was more irrelevant than inappropriate. I assumed the interviewer was just trying to paint a picture of who I was as a person, how well rounded I was, trying to make it not entirely about the job but about determining whether I could shut off from ‘work mode’ and have a life. It didn’t bother me.

This was a gift, not an inappropriate question. That was your chance to sell yourself. That was your chance to tell them anything you wanted them to hear that they hadn’t already asked. Is there no way in which you shine? If *you *can’t think of any reason they should hire you, why would *they *think there is a reason.

Actually its not a very P.C. question but sadly it can be a very appropriate question indeed.

Many years ago I was working in a cinema that employed mostly women.

We lost one hell of a lot of working time from them because…

Their kid was ill and they had to stay home and look after them.

Their kids usual lift home from school couldn’t make it today so that they had to go and pick them up from school.

It was parents evening at school.

The school wanted to talk to them about their childs progress.
Their childminder was away on holiday.

Their child needed to be fitted for new shoes.

Their child was being innoculated and afterwards they were going to stay with it in case there was an allergic reaction.

Their kid had to go to the doctors.

Their kid had to go to the dentists.
These are all actual examples of excuses that were used to have time off,to leave early, for coming in late and for failing to be able to work the overtime that they had previously agreed to.
And I must make it clear that we’re not talking about one or two regular offenders here but most of the female workforce,thats not being sexist,not one male employee asked for time off for child related reasons.

Any attempt to question the flexibility timewise of having to take time off for some of these incidents,let alone the truthfulness of the excuses was met with stunned disbelief at how anyone could be so callous about a childs health/safety.

It would bad enough if all of these excuses were genuine,a business to stay in business CAN’T operate around all of its multiple employees last minute family crisiss even if they ARE real.

But when the boss started checking up on unscheduled time off it was found that the majority of the excuses were pure B.S.

After that he started asking job applicants if they had children.

And could you honestly blame him?

Oh, no, that’s supposed to be a Highly Psychologically Relevant Question.

I got that asked a lot a few years ago. I had, courtesy of my firing settlement, the services of a job-seeking agency. I brought this up with one of their agents: “if I say ‘reading, movies,’ it’s ‘just the blah boring answer which doesn’t say anything;’ if I mention science fiction, much less fantasy, since psychologists are ‘letters track’ they have a negative image about those genres; the only sport I really like is mountain climbing, which is a group sport but those who haven’t practiced it know only from hearing on TV that the Guardia Civil has had to rescue Yet Another Moron who went into the mountains on his own during a storm… what can I say that will be both real and not carry a negative label?”
He thought and said “oh, I don’t know that it would be such a problem.”
Me: “OK, let’s say someone poses you that question. Would you tell them you practice an oriental form of sword-fighting?”
He, whiter than the wall behind him: “how do you know???”
Me: “Think about it. I know that (pointing to his sheathed and denim-hidden sinai) is a practice bamboo sword because I have used one. Do your coworkers know you’re into martial arts, though?”
He: “Nnnnoooo… heck, when someone asks I tell them it’s a fishing pole.”

Actually, unless things have changed, this is/was an illegal question. One was not allowed to ask about family/marital status.

Recently I applied for a job in which I had to take a written personality test. I find these tests really lame since it’s usually very easy to tell what kind of answers they are looking for. The questions were statements that you had to answer as “strongly agree”, “agree,” “neutral” and so forth.

One of the questions left me scratching my head:
I believe we should look to our religious leaders for moral guidance.”

Now, I grew up Catholic but don’t consider myself religious anymore, and certainly don’t look to church leaders for guidance on how to live a moral life. I really don’t know what the company was looking for there, but I found the question extremely bizarre and most likely illegal.

I’ve always thought that was the interviewer’s way of finding out if you’re an active, go-getter type of person. They’re looking for answers like training for a triathlon as opposed to, “I like to read and go to the opera.”

Of course, you can’t ask the question in the United States. But, you can look up the applicant’s address on Google Earth.
5 bedroom house in the suburbs? Highly likely to have kids
1 bedroom condo in the city’s arts district. Not likely to have kids.