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Blowing Up a Pointless Job Interview 692

Nemo the Magnificent writes "Ever been asked a question in a job interview that's just so abysmally stupid, you're tempted to give in to the snark and blow the whole thing up? Here are suggested interview-ending answers to 16 of the stupidest questions candidates actually got asked in interviews at tech companies in 2013, according to employment site Glassdoor. Oil to pour on the burning bridges."
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Blowing Up a Pointless Job Interview

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  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:53PM (#46009731) Homepage

    How to successfully end an interview.

    Spud's interview [] [NSFW]

    None of the ones in the article even come close.

  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:06PM (#46009797)

    When you are young, desperate, and eager to please, they ask you all the stupid questions. Their apparent motive is just to fuck with you and assert dominance.

    When you are older and have a resume, they don't bother with the stupid questions. They just ask you about code and projects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:07PM (#46009799)

    If you're that certain you do not wish the job, don't make peoples day any more difficult by being a dickhat. Just politely end the interview saying you are no longer interested in the position.

    That kind of response sends the message loud and clear that it was their interview that drove you away and may push them to explain why they were asking such shitty questions. If nothing else it avoids creating an instant adversarial position where your indignation is written off as "you being a dickhat" not that there might be something wrong with their interview process.

    We're adults, grow the hell up and stop assuming anyone gives a crap if you act like a smartypants.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:08PM (#46009803)

    My response was never, stress gets no work done, I budget for it after the issue resolution.

    My response did not change inspite of the question being asked 3 more times, the interviewer got stressed and ended the interview. Interviews are crappy, if the manager does not know what the deliverable is

  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:19PM (#46009873) Homepage

    In other words, the number of stupid questions is inversely proportional to your perceived value to the company. An experienced employee can easily walk away if he does not like your questions - and what then will you tell your boss who is desperate to fill that Project Lead position? Especially if the boss was also present at the interview? Good Project Leads are hard to find. You won't even talk to a good Code Monkey every day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:24PM (#46009913)

    Just remember, too much experience is bad. After you have 10 years experience you'll be too old to be employable. Anywhere. Ever.

  • by marxzed ( 1075971 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:26PM (#46009927)
    I think whining constitutes "talking to another human" and certanly seems to constitute 98% of most "professional" communications.
    so, if job interviews were based on reality rather than some infantile fantasy world whining and snarking would actually good things to do in a job interview as it would show you fitted in to the corporate culture
  • Be Careful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trip6 ( 1184883 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:26PM (#46009935)
    You want to be snarky? Go ahead - enjoy it and feel good about yourself. But remember that the professional world in which you play is a VERY small one, and word gets around.
  • Re:The ones I hate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:28PM (#46009945)

    I think Leon in "Blade Runner" nailed the proper response to those

  • Best way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MasseKid ( 1294554 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:37PM (#46009999)
    The best way to light the path to your future is by burning the bridges of your past.
  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:41PM (#46010019)
    Remember that a job interview is a 2-way transaction - you should be checking out the company and staff as carefully as they are checking you out. Put them on the ropes, ask them questions that make *them* uncomfortable, see how they handle it. "How has the company stock been doing?" Whatever the answer (Good/Poor), ask "Why?". Maintain eye contact and look for shifty glances. Keep your bullshit detector on high sensitivity. "What things does your competitor do better than your organization, and what is your plan to change them?"

    It's one thing to be new to the profession and just want to steer your way to a first job. But later, after you've worked through a couple crappy companies, you'll see that it is important to be on the offensive during the interviews. Walk in like a boss and probe their weaknesses. Any organization worth their salt should be impressed at your command of the situation. And if they really were looking for a meek wallflower that would spout the most PC response - do you really want to work there? And if the responses from the interviewer are stilted and confused, do you really want them as a co-worker?
  • by egcagrac0 ( 1410377 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:54PM (#46010089)

    If it was an interview for a marketing position, then "I'm a liar" should have been listed under "strengths", and "honesty" under "weaknesses".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @11:58PM (#46010115)

    Just politely end the interview saying you are no longer interested in the position.

    It's important to remember that a job interview should be a 2 way street. You need to be clear (and it may not hurt to make it clear) that you are assessing them as much as the other way round. Telling someone they failed should always be done politely and with tact.

  • by Euler ( 31942 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:05AM (#46010163) Journal

    I agree. If a job candidate doesn't like the questions, I would expect them to react in a way that I could tolerate if I had to work with them. It is actually a good thing to pull a Kobayashi Maru in most cases as long as it seems like something that would be feasible. It is okay in the real-world to have a critical opinion as long as it is polite and constructive in the long-run.

    I've been on the asking side of these questions several times now. (Not questions quite as silly as the examples in the article, but nonetheless...) HR said "pick 4 questions from this book and score according to this answer key." Obviously, the whole thing is highly subjective and the scoring is more about how a person reacts. Some of the questions are way too vague to be useful, but usually they allow you to gauge the behavior of a person. You basically want to find out how a person handles typical adverse situations that arise in a work environment. i.e. professional disagreements, impossible goals, annoying customers, etc.
    I've seen many different reactions. It's okay if a person declines to answer maybe 1 out of the 4, but in some cases, people have claimed they never had an adverse situation. Not a good answer. Most people just try to answer the questions in a bland way with the 'expected' answer. So I need to hear something that tells me a person really cares, either by re-engineering the question, or having a really specific answer that would be hard to fabricate on the spot.

    So you can be critical of these questions, but consider being in the shoes of an employer. You try writing questions for an interview that are not too vague, and can cut through peoples' BS'ing.


  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:07AM (#46010173) Journal

    This, right here.

    In tech circles, your name gets passed around a lot farther than you think. Even if you turn down that job, the fact that you were a dickhat will pass around - eventually to the jobs you do want. IF you don't fit into the culture, you won't fit into the job.

    This is doubly true in medium and smaller tech markets (like here in PDX, for instance). We've been trying to hire sysadmins here with experience, and we've been able to weed out at least a couple of resumes so far based just on (bad) reputation.

    While I and my cohorts don't know everyone in the biz here, we do know who we really want, and who we don't want.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:11AM (#46010205)

    Just remember, too much experience is bad. After you have 10 years experience you'll be too old to be employable. Anywhere. Ever.

    I keep hearing that, and yet I keep working... Hmmm... And not only do I have 10 years experience, I have it three times!

  • Re:Tame and lame (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:20AM (#46010257)

    That's a shame if it's true. Hiring based on cultural bias is roughly equivalent to nepotism. I hope you're wrong, and it was more based on skill or talent displayed.

  • Re:Tame and lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:45AM (#46010363) Journal

    "Fit with group" is a completely reasonable hiring criterion.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @12:47AM (#46010377) Homepage

    I haven't had to interview too many people at my current job (boo, federal budget cuts), but when I did, on 80% or so of people, I asked the question:

    "Star Wars or Star Trek?"

    The thing is, I didn't really care which one you picked, so long as you could explain why. And if you picked something else (Firefly, Battlestar Glactica, Dr. Who, Red Dwarf, etc.) and could give a passionate answer, that's even better. The only wrong answer is the 'I'm not going to pick one or the other because I don't want to offend anyone' unless you could really impress me some creativity in the process.

    And for anyone who complains that there might be people who haven't seen any of 'em (I still know some people who are almost 30 and qualify) ... I work at a NASA center ... if you haven't seen any of the TV shows I've listed, there's a *really* high probability that you wouldn't fit in.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @01:06AM (#46010459) Journal

    Just remember, too much experience is bad. After you have 10 years experience you'll be too old to be employable. Anywhere. Ever.

    Only if you've been deeply irresponsible in your own job skills. One thing I learned early that that expertise in any technology stack will only last 5 years or so before it's worthless. Sometimes you have to move on, even to a lower-paying job, just to freshen your skills (as I recently did). Sometimes you have to directly focus on improving your non-technical skills in a real way. But you only become unemployable when you stop learning new professional skills.

    20-mumble years of experience and still going here. Going back through my email, I was contacted 12 times last quarter by recruiters who seemed credible in having senior positions to fill, and a couple who didn't. I've certainly met and interviewed people who have made themselves unhirable by focusing too narrowly for too long, but as long as you remember that each specific technology that you're expert in will be meaningless in 5 years (and that salary doesn't go up when you're older like it does when you're younger), you won't have this problem.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @01:12AM (#46010489) Homepage

    Consider my response to that: "Oh, I already know how it's doing. I did my research on your company. I want to know if you know how your own company's stock's doing, and how your view of it matches up with the analysts' take on your company.". If the interviewer's willing to BS me about the company's performance and how it's handling itself, what else are they BSing me on? And if they honestly don't realize how their company's performing, I have to wonder whether there's some fundamental dysfunction that I may not want any part of.

  • Re:Tame and lame (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dalias ( 1978986 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @01:17AM (#46010517)
    Yeah, keep telling yourself that. Especially when "the group" has a particular existing racial and gender makeup...
  • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @01:36AM (#46010607)

    My stock answer to that is:

    Assuming there is no pressing issues sooner, like a micro manager, then every five years or so I evaluate if I want to stay where I am or if there is more interesting and rewarding work to be done elsewhere.

    So, what kind of company is this? One where I stay because the work is interesting and rewarding, or one where I decide it is time to examine my option?

  • Re:Tame and lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @02:06AM (#46010783) Journal

    The word "culture" in this context is in reference to corporate culture.

    Corporate culture is an amorphous mixture of personality, motivation, lifestyle, methods, and work ethic. Work somewhere that matches yours, and you do very well. Work somewhere that does not, and you will either gain ulcers, ruin your career, and eventually get fired, laid-off, or worse.

    Each company has a different approach to how they work. Part of it is due to the industry they're in, part of it is due to the job type, some of it by ideology, and all of it is driven by the leadership.

    Take for instance Nike. They're headquartered in nearby Beaverton, OR. They have a work-hard/play-hard culture, and expect their employees to be the same. It is a very Type-A organization. I went after an opening they had, but the interview told me that I would be expected to dump any thought of a home life, quit smoking, and essentially compete with my co-workers for everything. Oh, and did I mention that the prevailing political ideology is strongly promulgated, and it is a diametric opposite of my own? Long-term prospects there would require me to essentially abandon what I am and who I am - unless I'm otherwise facing homelessness, no dice.

    I've worked at such organizations before... they suck, and I don't fit into them, so I turned it down.

    *That* is what I mean by culture.

  • by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Monday January 20, 2014 @02:34AM (#46010923)

    At least they didn't swipe your work for themselves and stiff you on consulting fees.

  • by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @03:02AM (#46011031)
    To actually get the point across to them so they correct their behavior though, you need to do it politely. No-one likes being told "that was a fucking stupid question", and more often than not they'll think to themselves "well, that guy was an arsehole" and disregard what you said. "Thank you for your time, but the questions are straying a bit from what I thought would be relevant to the job, so I don't think this position is for me" has a better chance to get them thinking.
  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:08AM (#46011301)
    ... of the interview; e.g. to test the candidates reaction to stupid questions. Depending on the job, he might have to face those on a regular basis and certain response patterns may not be considered adequate.
  • Re:Be Careful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ruir ( 2709173 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:26AM (#46011555)
    It depends. In my 20s maybe, just maybe I wouldnt have problems with those questions. In my 40s I am negotiating a business proposition with you, I am something very solid and palpable to offer you, my vast years of experience. You are not doing my any favour at all, let me stress this, we are conducting a business. Our time is valuable too, as we already have to juggle family, work, and leisure. I also have quite a surprising war chest, and am not desperate for work. Heck, I have a good job actually, convince me it would be fantastic to work with you. Would you have issues answering my stupid questions? I believe you would have. After all, it is also in my interest not to work with dicks. Life is too short for me too. No sir, we are adults, we are conducting business, respect this, respect me and leave the stupid questions at the door. If you want respect, you have to respect.
  • by Ashe Tyrael ( 697937 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @05:38AM (#46011625)

    "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."

    Depressingly true in the current climate too.

  • Re:Best way... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @06:19AM (#46011757)

    If you want a wholesale career change I'd agree with that. If you want to work in the same field I'd say that advice is retarded.

  • Re:Tame and lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BVis ( 267028 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @09:34AM (#46012531)

    If you desperately need a job or simply move office within a company and find yourself in a "culture" that is hostile to you and which requires, as in your example, an unhealthy and discriminatory work-life balance (discriminatory because clearly no single parent or person with an illness/disability that limits their ability to work long hours would ever be able to take it) then the company needs to change it.

    Welcome to America, where the beatings will continue until morale improves. What you describe is "being competitive".

    Employers have no incentive to treat their people like human beings. The next guy treats his employees just as badly, and if you find yourself someplace where they treat you like a human being, you're getting ripped off in terms of pay/benefits. Seriously, employers are like car salesmen here; they know they can treat you like shit because the next guy is just as bad. Oh, and medical insurance, you have none if you quit.

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