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The Top 3 Foolish Interview Questions We Were All Asked

I have been interviewed a dozen times in the 14 years that I worked innt eh corporate world.

And I have interviewed hundreds of applicants, too.

I have to admit that I asked the same asinine questions when I was starting out to hire and promote employees.

Over the years, I realized that these questions have no relevance whatsoever as far as my profession is concerned.

Here are the three foolish questions that most of use have been asked at one time in our careers.

What is your greatest weakness?

This is so cliché. I do not ask this question during interviews anymore. I know fully well that candidates prepare answers for this and I will only hear any of these three:

  • A completely irrelevant answer—candidate says “I am not an expert in MS Excel…” but the job he is applying for does not involve MS Excel.
  • A sugarcoated answer—candidate says “I take a lot of effort to determine what to prioritize. As a result, some tasks may be compromised…” This means the applicant does not get the job done on time.
  • A weakness that is spun into something positive—candidate says “I am very detail-oriented and this causes me to work long hours…”

If you are asked this question, then you are in a tight spot. Perhaps the interviewer wants to see how you react under pressure. As far as I am concerned, my weaknesses are not your business. I came to the interview to sell my service, not to destroy my reputation.

To the Interviewer:

A better way to find out about a person’s weakness is to ask straightforward questions.

  • Have you done a report like this?
  • Can you describe this specific task in detail?

To the Interviewee:

Answers like “I do not have a weakness” or “I cannot think of one” will only diss your Interviewer. Your best option is to choose an answer from the three examples above. You can also tell the interviewer that your weakness is chocolate or Starbucks. Perhaps it is her weakness, too.


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Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wait, my crystal ball is cloudy at the moment. Whenever I hire a plumber or a carpenter to do some repairs at home, I do not ask him, “Mr. Plumber, where do you see yourself in five years?”

Do you?

I say: “The toilet is clogged. That is my problem. Can you fix it? What is your plan? What tools do you need—wire, pump, or straw?”

To the Interviewer:

Answers to questions like this will give you nothing more than superficial visions of the applicant’s future. Sometimes, you get a glimpse of the applicant’s dreams or ambitions but nonetheless, I do not think there is any answer to this question that will relate to the applicant’s ability to perform his duties.

To the Interviewee:

This question is a trap. Do not say things like “I will go abroad in two years” or “my petition for the US is due in six months.” You will not get hired. Say that you want to stay in the same company or industry for many years and you will work hard to advance the company’s business interests.

RELEASE THE FULL POTENTIAL OF YOUR MIND!

If you were an animal, what would you be?

I am a cheetah. See how fast I can run? Bolt to the door and do not come back. Seriously, this question should only be asked if the basic requirements for the job are creativity and imagination. Or perhaps you are looking for people who have specific characteristics—fun-loving, adventurous, etc… Otherwise, this should be banned from the corporate world.

Other variants of this dumb question:

  • Why is a manhole round and not square?
  • How many cell towers are there from your house to the office?
  • If you were a tree, how tall would you be?
  • What pet are you?
  • If you were a singer, who would you be?
  • Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
  • If you were a superhero, who would you be?

To the Interviewer:

Do not ask this question. Please.

To the Interviewee:

Oh yes. You will be asked this question and you are expected to provide a professional and smart answer. Say something like, “I am a horse. I am strong; I can carry heavy loads and travel great distances to achieve business goals.”

Summary

There are many more dum-dum interview questions like these and it is not likely that you can prepare for all of them.

Just make sure that your answers are not offensive and that that you try to relate your answers to the job.

If you are not sure, just say “I haven’t really thought about that.” It is better to say you are not sure than provide answers that may hurt your interview assessment.


Be a copywriter. No interviews. No dumb questions. Just write for a living.

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