Job Interviewers - How to avoid looking stupid

You interview lots of people every day. The candidates are keen to get the job you have within your gift. They get nervous, and you're just doing your day job. It's dead easy to get cocky and think you know it all. You start to get a little too clever. You think you can read something into every gesture, each word, and even the silences in between. It's VERY dangerous territory.....

Rather than look in the mirror, read this from the BBC. Some poor schmuk is after a job in Currys to sell TV's and laptops to herds of the great unwashed. He has a degree and is keen to get a job. Any job. He lives in south Wales and jobs aren't hanging off trees. He does his research. Frets. Does some more research. Frets. Puts on his best suit. Frets. You get the picture.

And what do Currys do when he finally fronts up? They ask him to dance. Yes. Dance.

In all that's holy, what the hell did these people think they were up to? What on earth possessed them to think this was a good idea? It was neither big or clever. It was very dumb. They end up with press coverage like this. And just what did they think they might learn by this? (Unless they thought they would open the store every morning with a song and dance show - hey. It's tough out there!)

There are many examples where interviewers are too clever for their own good. Just look at these dumb interview questions.

We all need to calm down and remember what we're trying to achieve. That includes me. And it probably includes you.


(Image courtesy of

Views: 929

Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 16, 2013 at 5:55pm

Now I'm curious. How many interviewees don't win when they give flip rssponses like, "I want to go to the circus today?" How meaningful and on the mark is such a response to such a question?

Comment by Richard Peterson on September 16, 2013 at 6:11pm

As I said before, the interviewer isn't looking for the "Right or Wrong" answer. Just an evaluation of their honesty and candor versus their own brand of BS.

the candidate was a very genuine individual.

Comment by Martin Ellis on September 17, 2013 at 2:37am

I'm sure the candidate was genuine, and I suspect the interviewer was well meaning, but it's still a rather twisted approach. Why not look for honesty and candor in a job-related role play? It's perfectly reasonable to throw in a curved ball because that's part of life.

Is it just me, or is it HR that always seem to be behind these 'creative' questions?

Comment by Richard Peterson on September 17, 2013 at 9:19am
I think that particular situation was simply isolated. I do not believe anyone has to worry about HR and all companies consistently throwing out these kinds of questions.

I'm surprised this comment has gotten as much play as and has.

No one should worry about this becoming a trend.
Comment by Martin Ellis on September 17, 2013 at 9:36am

It may not be a trend your side of the pond, but I'm increasingly becoming aware that this style of questioning is becoming more common in the UK. This blog has had considerable interest (I also posted it on my own personal blog) and the earlier blog about dumb questions was also very well read. I'm afraid I am worried it will become a trend.

It would be interesting to hear if others regard this as a trend already.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 17, 2013 at 10:09am


Are you kidding me?

"Weird Interview Questions..." have been more than a trend -- they've been SOP (standard operating procedure) by smartasses since forever...and they caught on because it was a novelty.

However, many are now recognizing that the novelty was BS all along...

Google’s Weird Interview Questions: ‘A Complete Waste of Time

John Zappe
Jun 24, 2013, 1:26 pm ET


Google’s own Laszlo Bock says so. He’s Google’s senior vice president of people operations and in a New York Times interview he bluntly calls “a complete waste of time.” “They don’t predict anything,” he told The Times. “They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

Comment by Richard Peterson on September 17, 2013 at 10:19am

Hope so.

Comment by Richard Peterson on September 17, 2013 at 10:20am

Hope so.

Comment by Martin Ellis on September 17, 2013 at 10:22am

Yes. I saw that quote Valentino. And I agree with you. I'm just a nice bloke trying to be gentle (God! I hope my wife doesn't read this!).........

Comment by lisa rokusek on September 17, 2013 at 3:35pm

The stupid questions in interviews are only slightly edging out the arrogant "I'm smarter than you"  and "prove to us why you are worthy of me talking to you" attitudes I 'm seeing in some of my less than favorite clients. 

Starting out an interview with a "Why should we hire you" question is just not awesome - especially when the candidate is a somewhat rarity.  A lot of very tight markets in technolgy right now - companies have to woo in addition to asses.  One doesn't want to turn off a good candidate you want to hire later - just because the interviewer feels it is important to measure.....brain size.  Or whatever they are measuring.  Honestly.   ;-)


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