Tweak Your Biz » Management » 10 of the MOST STUPID interview questions EVER….

10 of the MOST STUPID interview questions EVER….



I’ve had the pleasure and sometimes the misfortune of attending lots of interviews over the years. During this time, I’ve got to experience the interview process from both sides – as a potential candidate and as an interviewer. Something that grates with me is why so many downright silly interview questions continue to be asked even though they are clearly pointless & invariably just waste time?

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Here are my 10 MOST STUPID interview questions & some tongue in cheek answers :-)

#10: What do you want out of life?

World peace, 2.5 kids, 3 holidays a year & a season ticket at Old Trafford.

#9: You are offered a better paid job by a competitor, would you take that job over this one?

ditto

#8: Why should we hire you?

- I’m dating the boss’s daughter and my sense of humor.

#7: What interests you about this company?

-  Working with you and 10 mins less of a commute every day

#6: How would your last manager describe you?

- 6ft and needing to to lose a few pounds.

#5: Do you work well as part of a team?

-  Yes of course well except on Mondays & Friday afternoons.

#4: If you were an animal what would you be?

-  Mmm let me see now, mammal, omnivore, member of the primate family, smarter than a chimp & invented civilisation.

#3: Have you ever lied?

– No.

#2: What are your weaknesses?

-  Workaholic, Jaffa cakes & a compulsion to answer silly questions.

#1: Where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years?

– In a mirror.

Related: 5 Tips On How To Give A Great Job Interview

So come on people, there are hundreds of intelligent & probing questions, why then do we still need to waste time by asking these & other silly questions during interviews. Feel free to share any silly, ridicules or stupid questions that you have been asked when interviewed in the comments below.

Thank you for reading.

Niall

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The Author:

Digital expert, top 10% influencer with over 10 years’ senior management experience - including managing projects and teams, and growing companies in the Irish, international and online marketplaces. Co-founded one of the largest B2B blogs in the world, helped grow a B2B social media to over 1,000,000 members, created the strategy for one of the most effective SME Facebook pages in the world and have grown 3 business websites (TweakYourBiz.com, BizSugar.com & MyKidsTime.ie) to in excess of a 100,000 unique visitors per month. Have consulted and worked with both corporate and SME clients on leveraging digital to drive business KPIs. Speaker at industry events, have authored several industry reports on the Digital Economy and appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider and other leading online and offline business publications. Specialities include: Entrepreneurship Business Development, Start-ups, Business Planning, Management, Training, Leadership, Sales Management, Sales, Sales Process, Coaching, Online Advertising, Blogging, Online Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media Strategist, Digital Strategy, Social Media ROI, User Generated Content, Social Customer Care. http://tweakyourbiz.com/

Add Your Comment

  • http://twitter.com/_FionaWhite Fiona White

    Good list Niall! I agree with you that most of them are completely pointless! My least favourite has to be what are your weaknesses! I hate being asked that question, it’s too difficult to answer! Do they only want imperfect employees? I really don’t see the point. Have you ever had to ask any of those as an interviewer? I’d love to know why they are asked!

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Niall, some of them aren’t that silly. I’ve asked some of those questions specifically to see how a person responds to them, it’s irrelevant what their answer is- it’s how they deal with the question is what’s revealing.

    If I were interviewing you and you said that seems a silly question, I’d ask you to elaborate on why you thought they were silly, and I’d like to do that now… What’s so silly about them?

    Although I agree, some of those above have been poorly phrased, when appropriately asked these questions give me an insight into the true personality of the person I’m interviewing. Not who they want me to think that they are.

    My second question is what do you think are the 10 most intelligent questions to ask at interview?

  • Anonymous

    the weakness question is a gauge of honesty- is the candidate honest & able to admit the areas that are not their strong points, and are they able to compensate those areas with other strengths.

    It’s not about wanting candidates without weaknesses, that’s impossible- it’s about making sure that the interviewer selects someone that can take responsibility for themselves- as a whole person. Being able to admit to imperfections is a good way to build relationships- being able to ask for help from team members & managers is an excellent & very strong trait for example. If you don’t know what your weaknesses are, you’ll never be able to ask for help. Asking for help is a key element of team work.

    Also if you aren’t able to be honest about your own weaknesses, you may react negatively with others’ weaknesses too, and that doesn’t make for a good team player either.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe, you could have asked why on earth are these questions asked at interview? Just because they don’t make sense to you, doesn’t mean they don’t have reasoning behind them.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Claire, Ive asked and been asked them too.

    Irrelevant answers surely reveal less than relevant answers?

    Honestly most candidates will not draw your attention to the fact that they believe a question is silly because of the perceived potential of damaging their chances and risking creating a bad impression.

    I disagree that these questions give you additional insight, in most cases they invariably lead to answers of who they want the interviewer to think that they are.

    I don’t think that there are 10 most intelligent questions to ask because the variables are so that it very much depends on the role and the skills that you are looking for.

  • Anonymous

    How can you disagree that these questions give me additional insight?

    I know that asking some of these questions HAVE given me additional insight.
    My background is in HR, and as such I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates, each answer these types of questions differently- and their reactions to them have given me great insight into their personality. How a person responds to these types of questions is very revealing.

    You still haven’t told me what is silly about these questions. I’d guess that the reason you think they’re silly is that you don’t know the purpose & value of asking them.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    I agree with the sentiment but I believe that’s its optimistic for an interviewer to ask what you don’t do well and expect to get a forthright answer.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Claire, meant you plural as opposed to you singular and in some cases I recognise the purpose but no I don’t see the value I’m afraid.

    For instance, have you ever lied? has neither purpose or value and is an illogical question because all people tell lies. Answering yes or no simply proves that I am human.

    In overall terms, you believe (have experienced) that these questions give insights that can lead to bettter decision making around hiring, that’s perfectly fine and your opinion is welcomed & backed up by your experience.

    Ive also interviewed, advised & hired a great many times and my experience has been contrary. I believe that these same questions ilicit largely predictable responses that give very little evidence as to a person suitability.

  • http://twitter.com/_FionaWhite Fiona White

    I’m not saying that I have no weaknesses, I just never know what to say to that question. How big/small a weakness should I suggest…! I read somewhere not to use being a perfectionist as a weakness but I think its a valid one, in some ways at least as perfectionist can waste time on trivial detail. I suppose it might be a good idea to ask a previous employer what your weakness is as they would be able to answer it more subjectively, if you have maintained contact with them.

  • Anonymous

    If someone can’t be honest about themselves, I wouldn’t want them on my team.

  • Anonymous

    If someone answered in an interview situation “No” to the question “Have you ever lied?” then I’d know that they lie under pressure.
    I wouldn’t hire someone who lied under pressure. Difficult situation require honesty, tact & diplomacy, being dishonest generally makes situation worse.

    So I stand by what I said, these aren’t necessarily stupid questions.

    I can give you lots of information about how & why different answers to these questions are revealing / indicating factors as to a person’s character.

    It also depends on the skill of the interview as to how they are asked, and the level of rapport built up during the interview.

  • Anonymous

    I realised you weren’t saying that :)

    For me a weakness I have is that I’m not good at consistently doing admin.
    However, seeing as I am a coach, a presenter, a leader, an entrepreneur- (what I’m good at) I’m not required to do administration duties 9-5 Mon-Fri.

    Recognising that I’m not strong at all tasks gives an indication that I accept I’m human, that I have a realistic viewpoint of myself. Having a realistic viewpoint of myself is likely to indicate that I have a realistic expectation of others, which is likely to mean I’m a good team player- not expecting too much of my team members & realising that others may need help in some areas & other members of the team may help me.

  • http://twitter.com/_FionaWhite Fiona White

    I see what you’re saying. I still won’t enjoy being asked that question but I’ll certainly understand where the interviewer is coming from. I’ll be starting to pay more attention to realise my own weaknesses so I can have an answer prepared too :)

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    OK, If the value is in someone answering “no” and I was the ask this question across say 100 interviews?

  • Anonymous

    the value is not in them answering any particular way.

    The value is seeing their reaction to the question, and how they formulate an answer.

    I just used “no” as an example.

    If they answered “yes” it would indicate to me that they are prepared to be honest, despite possible negative consequences. I would always hire someone who said yes to this question, over someone who said no.

    Having said that, as I said I wouldn’t ask this question

    That is a question I have never used, and I don’t think I ever would.

    I could only guess at what the responses would be over 100 interviews, and I would say it would vary depending on who you were interviewing, and for what role too, I guess.

    (Politicians for example might have a higher than average “no”) :D (That’s a joke, humour, fun, jest, please politician’s don’t take any personal offence)

  • http://www.indicee.com/blog Geoff D.

    L. O. L.

  • Anonymous

    Particularly liked the last answer.

  • Martin Tsachev

    The problem with all this is the “answers” you get are a very vague indication. Sure you will be able to filter out some blatant cases but is it really worth it when also you can’t be sure that you got the right person.

  • http://www.channelship.ie/blog facundo

    Here’s a typical from my time looking for jobs: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Giving the boss the sack and taking over the company! Lol

    HR was my first career choice (clear mistake), and I dropped those studies after the first year and a half. Definitely feel identified with those silly questions. Most of the HR apparatus is silly to me (although a necessary evil sometimes). Loved this one from Blacknight a few weeks ago: http://blog.blacknight.com/yet-another-job-vacancy.html

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hi Niall,

    I think the issues arising from these types of questions are dependant on the interviewee’s perception. After reading Claire’s responses, I can see how these questions relate, but the problem is that some don’t realise what they are being asked. Now, we could argue ‘thats the point’. It’s a form of indirect questioning after all, the purpose is to uncover natural answers.
    BUT – in an interview, its a pressured environment with an imbalance of power in the interviewers favour.
    How many of use weigh a question in our heads and search for the ‘correct response’, which is not always the ‘right’ respnse or even the honest one.
    The example ‘Have you ever lied?’ seeks to find out if the interviewee is honest. The interviewee however, feels that they are between a rock and a hard place – to answer ‘yes’ suggests a lier, but an honest one (oxymoron). To answer ‘no’ suggests a lier who seeks to please and thinks this is the right way to answer.
    Non-transparent questions can be misunderstood or laughable. Hence, how can the interviewer know that the response is honest ?
    There is always a tendancy to social desirability response bias and projective techniques can be a way round these, but is it fair or ethical to ask a question that isn’t understood?

    I see both sides and personally, I see it this way – be honest at the interview because if you are not the right person for the job, its not the right job.

    Tina

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Niall, I really enjoyed the post, and enjoyed following the discussion on LinkedIn also :)
    I think interviewing has changed a lot, maybe not so the questions. I agree with Claire that they are generally used SOLELY to see what the reaction is, whatever the answer. This may be perceived as “time-wasting” and most interviewees see them as awkward, useless and possibly a justified reason they dread the interview.
    However, with fantastic Career Coaches and Advisors available, interviewees are getting one up on the interviewers by really putting thought into the “silly” questions, and coming up with quite unique and individual answers, which now have more meaning than before. Maybe the interviewers will be challenged enough to come up with more compelling questions :)
    Would you agree?

  • http://www.seo-writer.com David of seo-writer.com

    Yeah, I love the “weakness” question. Everyone is coached to say “I work too hard” or “I pay too much attention to detail.” How about instead saying “I am too good an employee, but don’t worrry – I’ve resolved to fix that this year.”

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Hi Christina,

    With respect to the reasoning, anyone that would answer “no” to have you ever lied is either deluded or taking the p.

    Asking “what are your weaknesses” & expecting to get an honest and forthright answer is naive to say the least. People will always refer to weaknesses that are not-important to the role or even complimentary. In interviews we will only ever be honest to the point of not saying something negative that relates to the actual role itself.

    Human nature & common sense ditates :-)

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Yes, perhaps I would agree.

    The big problem is that decision making around suitability is suffering badly, genuine management talent is not getting through which in turn is creating a leadership void at the very top. This is hugely apparent in say places like the public sector.

    We are promoting the wrong people because the wrong people are asking the wrong questions and the wrong people are making the wrong decisions around potentail & talent.
    I can walk in to an interview in the morning, auto pilot it & get the job. It requires very little by way of talent.

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    bingo!

  • Anonymous

    Fiona,

    This article may help you tackle the dreaded “Weakness” question.

    http://www.theundercoverrecruiter.com/content/job-interview-how-answer-greatest-weaknesses-question

  • Anonymous

    Claire, more often then not those questions say more about the interviewer than the interviewee. In my opinion, these questions indicate a lack of creativity and poor understanding of true leadership qualities. I would never ask the questions above, particlulary those that can be answered as a yes/no, in an interview. The objective of an interview is to find out as much about the person as you can, and to determine if they are a good fit for your team. If I was asked those questions in an interview I would not want to work for that person………..

  • http://blog.myprojecttracker.com Barney Austen

    An addition that I would make, not a stupid question I know, but the fact that an amazing amount of interviewers don’t prep beforehand and have patently not read your cv! It gives a seriously bad impression of the interviewing company.

  • http://twitter.com/_FionaWhite Fiona White

    Thanks Greg! Some good ideas there!

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Lol, thanks David

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    That is a fair point – people can be over coached and end up in a job that is not suitable for them or the organisation – that is indeed time and resources wasted.
    Interesting point about the top level void, I wasn’t aware it was such a big issue, so maybe we need to work with the graduates and educate them about going for jobs that suit them more, not just to be employed.
    Unfortunately, some job seekers I have worked with have the attitude they simple need work (income) and worry about the other stuff later on, perhaps there is a lot of fire fighting going on presently. I would be happier if they realise that they do have choices, but then I could have less clients – oops!

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Hi Tina,
    I actually think you’ve hit the nail on the head there – in a perfect world, we would be honest and find the best fit job. I believe the big question you have raised here is – are we honest with ourselves?

    Niall appreciates that humans aim to please, unfortunately it is ultimately going to benefit no-one if the interviewee reverts to pleasing anyone but themselves. It just takes one bad “apple” in a team to hold back progress.

    Niall, I would think the common sense you refer to is to “say whatever it takes to get the job” which I agree is prolific here in Ireland, but back to my previous point – if one is not honest with themselves, that is the beginning of the end. I have been there myself, it doesn’t work long term.

  • http://www.seefincoaching.com/blog Elaine Rogers

    Who once said??? “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Elaine – your last point is very true. When you’re desperate your choices are limited and constrained by time. So yes, many are accepting what they can get. The annoying thing is (and I’ve had this before) is that a potential employer can discount you based on a job that fulfilled a basic need and meant survival. What will happen next year when we move from the ‘quick fix’ job to the main one? Will employers understand or will the lucky ones who found a strong match straight off clinch the role.
    As I always say – fate dictates the pattern of life….

    Tina

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Thats why practical tests are so important. Filters out the fakers

    Tina

  • http://www.btbtraining.com/blog Niall Devitt

    Elaine, I agree but we are in ideal world territory here, the reality is that there are now more people than jobs, and these people have bills to pay & mouths to feed. It is entirely natural that they will attempt to put their best foot forward.

    Ultimately the person/s I am questioning here is the interviewer & their ability to do the job. Far too many interviews are personality based rather than on the evidence. I have yet to hear a comprehensive argument why questions such as these are deemed necessary. The general consensus appears to be that the value is how the person responds rather than what they say.

    This is illogical because a person can also be judged in how they respond to intelligent and/or probing questions. For instance, if I was to ask someone, which areas they might require support/training if hired, I am probably going to get a closer to reality answer than what are your weaknesses.

  • Anonymous

    The problem I have with the “weaknesses” question is that most people have been trained how to answer it, so the answer you get is probably not true.

  • neiljones

    Hi guys,
    Thanks for the comments,
    I think we’re all full of surprises, if an employer can show some faith in his staff and encourage them instead of trying to force them the results can be astounding. the company I work for runs a sales team and they reward their sales staff with incentives, I know that it may not be the most ethical thing to do but it works and all the sales team have something to work for at the end of the month.
    It’s also important that an employer recognises even small achievements by any member of his staff but to also make sure the rest of his team are also aware. Sending a quick thank you email will only take seconds, but that employee will leave work that even feeling good about themselves. You don’t need to lavish praise on your staff but you need to be aware of their achievements and what they bring to the team.

  • Barney_5uk

    Thjanks a lot, David – now I know how to answer such stupid questions!

  • Pie

    I was just asked the other day… “Would you consider yourself innovative?” It was by far the dumbest, vaguest one I ever heard. I threw one back and said “Innovative in what sense?” and she couldn’t tell me cuz re-asking made them see just how dumb it was in the first place.

  • Paul

    Claire, are you that naive and arrogant that you think you can figure out somebody’s personality based on a question?nI am sorry to say this but you are the typical HR representative that everybody criticizes, so an engineer or a nurse can really demonstrate their abilities by informing you if they lie or not or by even being dishonest with their answer.nLet me ask you, do you work for a sales organization that promotes having fun and encouragement in the workplace? And what I mean is a place that truly does not value their employees but promote appreciation days and other worthless events that are nothing more than a ploy.nnI find it contradictory that you defend such interview questions and then claim that you would not use it. You know what, don’t even reply, I already know your type, you are the type of person working in a company that believes they have success in their hiring structure yet have a problem with employee retention.

  • http://twitter.com/ClaireBoyles Claire Boyles

    Your response is incredibly rude, and thus it would indicate to me that you may have issues in establishing effective working relationships. If we were in an interview situation, I’d continue the conversation to gain more information about this aspect of your character. nnPeople’s behaviour and responses to things in an interview give me an indication of how they might respond under stress, and most working environments tend to have some stress from time to time. nnnn

  • Paul

    Claire, trust me, if we were in an interview situation, I would tell you I am not interested after hearing your questions.nnAs a hiring manager I can tell you that it is not in the best interest of the company to waste anyone’s time, be it the applicant or myself. nLike I said, you are the type of person that believes you can find out days worth of information from a simple question. I know you will not listen, but if you do, take this as advice, a person’s ability to handle a stressful situation varies on the degree of the situation.nnSince you know so much, can you answer me why HR is outsourced so often?? Companies like ADP and Paychex are often hired by many companies that have realized that HR departments don’t contribute much, and I can cleary see why, you think you can find good talent based on an applicant’s well rehearsed answer to stupid questions.nSorry Claire, but I think the crowd here agrees with me.

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Well done Greg @careerscoacheu:disqus Great interview! I’m delighted to say that Jill is someone I really admire and was one of the first people to introduce me to the how the online world could benefit me as a salesperson. Her advice is always on the money, and I really like what she had to say about helping rather than selling to your customers. Looking forward to her webinar with Seth which will be fantastic, I’m sure.

  • Anonymous

    Jill was an absolute pleasure to interview. Full of fabulous practical advice. One thing she said that really stuck in my mind was (re Sales) – “It is not about pitching, it’s about talking about business issues”.nnnJill also mentioned that she will be making her very first visit to Ireland at the end of the month to talk at the DIT Entrepreneurs Forum. So keep an eye out for her.n

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niall.n

  • Facundo

    Excellent interview Greg. I really liked that point to and how she ties it to the value of new single clients in the door.n

  • TheOuroboro

    Glorious interview

  • Niamh Pedreschi

    Great interview Greg, really valuable advice.n

  • Facundo

    Thanks Frank. In relation to the choppy parts, we have some issues on the technical side, where we are unsure if it is the broadband conenction or the recording software. We are still looking for ways to improve this but it is challenging to say the least :)n

  • Anonymous

    u00a0Thanks for the comment:) I am also off knocking on bigger doors thanks to Jill.

  • Paula Ronan

    Sales has a bad rep from bad reps! Great inspiration there Greg, thanks.u00a0

  • Julie Painter

    Got ideas for improving accessible technologies?u00a0 Come to the next 508 Listening Session on 6/17 @Stanford U. http://go.usa.gov/DNn #opengov

  • http://twitter.com/davedungan Dave Dungan

    Thanks Niall, I agree in some cases it can actually damage business, particularly if customer comments are ignored.

  • 007inkabul

    Why do you apply for this position?nWhat kind of manager you are?nHow will you present our company to outsiders?nu00a0

  • Emily Malone

    Interviews in general are useless not only to the perspective employee  but also to the employer.  Studies have shown that the only interviews that predict job performance at all are those that ask the interviewed individual to demonstrate competence at the job that are applying for.

    Unfortunately, most employers (like the general population) ignore scientific evidence (not that a study was really needed to come to this conclusion) and somehow believe that a person’s bullshitting ability is correlated with job performance.  

    All of the questions you mentioned here were beyond stupid, but none of them top one I that I was asked today in a scholarship interview, and that is “If you were going to a costume party, what would you dress up as and what would you bring?”  Seriously?  What the fuck is this bullshit?  And there was also “Name three things that you are not.”  Less shocking, but still, what the hell was ever wrong with being straightforward and asking three things that I AM?

    Gotta stop ranting and do some school work now.  But man, do I despise interviews.  If I ever am conducting an interview it’ll be “hi, how are you, do you think interviews are meaningless time-wasters?”  If they answer yes they get the job, if they say no they don’t.  That’s the only interview I need.

  • Stephanie Grey

    You have taught how to answer such stupid questions so easily !!!……lol

  • Christina Giliberti

    Elaine, I know that fear well! But getting better and in actual fact, now I think about it….your tips are why. I started to notice how uncomfortable people were, so switched to sitting down and chatted to them like a collaborative group. Suddenly barriors dropped and we felt much calmer. Obviously this tactic doesn’t work with large audiences, but it does highlight that mindset and approach are key.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi John,

    Thank you for your very wise addition to the conversation. I agree that the “blank look” is simply the passive listening face. I would add that it is the responsibility of the speaker to turn passive into active, to ensure interaction and acceptance of what they are speaking about (after all as speakers, we want them to at least remember some of what we say – rather than leave wondering “what was that al about” – a bit like arriving at a destination in a car and wondering how you didn’t notice the journey).

    I believe the clues you speak of are a cue to change state, as suggested in my post. This enables the audience to subconsciously switch from passive to active listening.

    I smiled at your comment about the nodding and smiling person – I have been guilty of that, especially in the early days. It’s still encouraging at least :)

    Great points raised, I appreciate your contribution.

  • http://www.smartsolutions.ie/blog/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Warren,

    Thank you and just to expand a little on the WIIFT (or WIFT for short). This is the first Q we should ask ourselves as presenters, speakers and trainers. The next Q is WIFM (What’s in it for ME) – also vitally important because if we do not know why we are there, well then all bets are off!

    I have taken this a step further to the WIFE (no not that one but – What’s in it for EVERYONE) – my personal favourite – a WIN/WIN me thinks :)

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  • Elish Bul

    Thank you for the quick soothing pointers! There is a new event series in Dublin called Speaking suppers where you can practise speaking or just go and watch whilst supping. I suspect there will be more such gatherings to help those who break out in a cold sweat each time. I find a big smile as you prepare helps generate a warmer state of mind , the right endorphins and it never hurts to listen to music that motivates you too ( pre speech/ performance)

  • desperate dan

    I was asked at an interview this question ” can you give me 3 things that you are not good at” most of course would have not been work related , one being not good at map reading ( not that there would have been any undertaken in this particular role) , and most of the other answers would have certainly have not got myself the job anyway , one answer could have been ” lying” , I guess ?.
    Another question asked was ” if could do any job in the world , what would it be , well it most certainly would have not been the job I was applying for , did it make a difference ?