Thursday, December 8, 2011

My (Mildly) Roaring 20s: Interview Questions

One of my very smart and also very good-looking friends in college once got the weirdest question while at an interview for a top tier medical school. The interviewer asked her, "So, why does a pretty girl like you want to go to med school?" It made my jaw drop when she told me, but she brushed it off (which made me feel a little bit like we had traveled back in time to the 1950s).

I'd think about it from time to time, especially whenever I'd be getting ready for an upcoming interview myself. Sometimes I think about my friend and I imagine her sitting in this huge office on a velvet wing-backed chair talking to this faculty member — a good ol' boy with a pipe in one hand. I wonder if she was sweating (I'd be sweating). Sometimes I think about how I'd respond. It wasn't until this week that I saw past the question's chauvinistic exterior and saw it for what it really was: something to throw her off the trail.

This week we started interviewing candidates at work. I always drink lots of coffee beforehand so I can be sure that I'm focused — picking your new colleague is a big deal. You spend almost all your waking hours sitting inside next to the people you work with, so if you have a say in the matter, make sure you try to pick someone you think you'll like. But that's way easier said than done.

To me, interviewing candidates sort of feels like going on a blind date where you're both trying to see if you're compatible in the short time you have before the check arrives. The problem is that, just like on the first date, everyone tells you what you want to hear. I find the hardest part is getting them to tell me something different, something that tells me who they really are. We're interviewing a few more people this week, and in the spirit of getting to know these good people who have come all this way to talk to us, I'm considering asking them something different beyond the standard stuff. Now I don't want to scare them away with a bunch of atypical questions, so instead I've narrowed it down to just one:

If you had to watch a TV marathon of either MSNBC's Lockup or MTV's Teen Mom 2, which one would you watch and why?

The responses, I think, should be quite telling.

What's the craziest interview question you've ever been asked?

(Top photo via This Time Tomorrow, bottom photo via Pinterest)


Sweet Little Eunice said...

Great post! I can't believe that guy asked your friend that, either. Did she end up going there? I've never seen either of those 2 shows you are going ask about, but I can't wait to hear about the results! Good luck!

Stacy said...

I wish every interview had questions like that! It makes it more lively and would make me feel as though the employer likes to think outside the box. Plus, I love answering questions like that.

As for the craziest interview question I've ever gotten, I can't remember. I usually draw a complete blank after interviews. Ha!

Sobrina Tung said...

Hmm, I don't remember if she ended up going there or not...

I'm glad you guys would be open to zany questions :)

Sashee said...

These are great ones. I'm always at a loss of what to ask...I shall try these :)

Rich Weber said...

Hello young lady! Long time no comment. Anyhoo....I have spent a lot of years interviewing and hiring people, and what your friend was asked is inappropriate. I have sat in on some interviews where some truly horrific questions were asked, narrowing down to the worst is impossible, but I shall try. "Why do you want this job? Your young and hot, shouldn't you be at home popping out babies and eating bon bons?" I actually terminated the Manager asking that question shortly after he asked it, and the lady being interviewed took it in stride and became one of my best employees.

I have found that silence works best during interviews. When they give you a short answer instead of what should be a long one, just sit there quietly and give them the opportunity to finish. Most people cannot stand the silence and will usually spout the thing they have been trying to hide the entire time to cover the silence. Ultimately I have always hired using my gut, and asked myself 3 questions about the person interviewing. Do they have the temperament for the position? Do they have the personality to fit in with the team, as it exists right now? And lastly, Do they have the desire to "take my job" so to speak? I always wanted to hire people that wanted my position. It made for a better and more efficient company.

And to answer your question, I would choose Lock Up, because Teen Mom 2 is something even Beavis and Butthead cannot watch. ;D

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