Home > Uncategorized > The seven most stupid interview questions of all time

The seven most stupid interview questions of all time

The objective of interviewing potential candidates is to find out as much as possible about them and the likelihood of them succeeding in your organisation. Interviews are also a time when both the hiring company and the candidate gain first impressions of what it would be like to work together and candidates base their opinions of a company to a significant extent on the questions asked during the interview.

Whilst it is hard to think up new, original and insightful interview questions on an ongoing basis, there are some questions which should be avoided at all cost, because they are completely pointless, expected by the candidate and, dare I say it, plain stupid. I have also written the answer I wish I could have given when I was asked these questions in the past…

1.  What are your greatest weaknesses?

How on earth can a candidate be expected to answer this honestly? By asking this question you are asking the interviewees to give you reasons not to hire them! Luckily most candidates expect this question nowadays because for some reason it is a favourite amongst interviewers, so they all have a prepared answers explaining how their main weakness is that they work too hard or some other supposed “strength” which they are repackaging as a weakness.

K: “My biggest weakness is an aversion to stupid questions”

2.   Can you work under pressure?

The candidate can only answer yes or no to this one. I challenge any recruiter to tell me of a time when a candidate answered “no”.  I can also promise that any examples candidates give to back up their affirmative answer will be prepared, rehearsed and very possibly fictitious.

K: “How many pounds per square inch are we talking about here?”

 3.   Where do you see yourself in five years?

I ask anybody who asks this question on a regular basis, where do you see yourselves in 5 years? Are you trying to establish how ambitious your candidates are? If their answer shows ambition, you will think they are arrogant and if not you will think they have no drive, so it’s a no-win question for the candidate.

K: “Not here, that’s for sure”

 4.   Are you a good leader / salesman / team player…?

No comment here, really.

K: “Of course I am”

 5.   Do you prefer working alone or in teams?

There is no right answer to this one – if the candidate expresses his honest opinion, the interviewer will immediately focus on the less preferred option and penalise the candidate for either not being a team player or not being able to work independently. So all candidates will give a non-committal answer, rendering this question a
waste of time.

K: “There is no ’I’ in team, but there is an ‘M’ and an ‘E’

6.   Why do you want to work here?

Is the interviewer surprised that someone would actually want to work at their company? Surely he should be selling the company to the candidate and not planting seeds of doubt in the candidate’s mind.

K: “Why shouldn’t I want to work here?”

7.   Why should I hire you?

K: “If you don’t know that after asking me questions for the last hour, then I can’t help you anymore”

I invite all readers to email any stupid interview questions they may have been asked to me or to post these onto facebook.com/sevenpillarsworld

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First appeared in Vashi Times Jobs & Career on July 16th, 2011

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Chetan Dodwad
    July 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Hi Karl, A good article. Worth thinking by all hr professionals.

  2. M.Ramaswamy
    July 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Hello Karl-Indeed true.Such questions when asked must not be used to corner candidates but only to record their views/opinions.Quickly we must move to explain the job challenges alongwith skill sets and educational background pre requisites.Let there be diversity in organisations!

  3. Nic
    August 1, 2011 at 10:55 am

    I’ve never actually done it and I have to admit that I probably wouldn’t have the guts but I’ve always wanted to answer the “Five Years Time” one by saying that I wanted to be bringing the USS Enterprise safely back to Earth. And providing that the interviewer wasn’t giving me one of those smiles that drops the room temperature to below zero, I might even throw in a few things about making first contact with as many different races as possible, for good measure.

    But for all I know, the interviewer could be a dedicated Star Wars fan who doesn’t like to share the same building with Star Trek fans. Seriously though, saying that I wanted to be the fiction Captain of a fictional spaceship makes about as much sense as any waffle that I could come up with about my long-term plans. The truth is, I don’t plan that far ahead. I just don’t. People change, things go wrong. And if you have some neatly mapped out five-year plan, eventually you’ll become so used to having that plan, that you’ll be afraid to try things that aren’t consistent with it. I don’t know about anyone else but I don’t want to find myself in that position.

    But for the most part, I treat these questions as a stupid tradition that everyone could do without but can’t quite bear to do away with them. Because they’re traditional. I have to admit though, compared to some of the questions my sister got during her graduate job hunt 😉 , I got off lucky. The one that sticks out most in my mind is the occasion where she got asked which character from Friends she would be. The only problem with this was that she hasn’t watched Friends.

    Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, fine. Annoying but fine. But assuming that everyone has watched any one franchise? Not ok.

  4. ravichandran
    March 30, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Hi Karl,

    Nothing more irritating than those fancy questions in an interview. I too have long pondered at the relevance of these questions and though many say it’s based on some scientific facts, I, on the other hand, disagree.
    It makes me think of the organization as a bunch of incompetent, insecure bunch. I’ve had graphology tests done in couple of organizations and trust its relevance in the process of selecting candidates, but asking such seemingly idiotic questions sometimes boosts my moral and makes me think that I could do wonders in the organization.
    I read your blog on the graphology and had briefly studied it myself but then, with time, the interest withered. I started to analyze my girlfriends letters and it sent the wrong messages to my heart and gave it up.
    Great blog anyway and would keep a look out for more such rhetoric, unanswerable questions.

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