Dear 100 Hour Board,
What is your least favorite job interview question? if you could interview someone for a job, what questions would you ask?
-recent grad who's just finished the millionth interview.
I'm going to go with "What is your greatest weakness" and "Where do you see yourself in [time period]" on the least favorites.
My greatest weakness is probably actually a personal failing that has very little to do with my ability to adequately perform this job and is also none of ya business, Mr. Interviewer.
I hated the "where do you see yourself" questions because as someone who planned on leaving the work force to have kids I felt like answering honestly "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" with "at home with a few kids" was basically just a disqualification.
My least favorite questions ask about specific situations, like "Tell me about a time you didn't get along with a person you work with, and how you handled the situation." That doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room if you don't have a good example of that situation, and why should my interview suffer just because I'm a delightful, agreeable person who gets along with everyone all the time?
I tend to favor open-ended questions like "How would your past experience prepare you for this position?" Questions like that allow me a greater degree of flexibility in my answer, which in turn allows the interviewer to get a better grasp on my personality and personal sense of qualification.
Personally speaking, if I were interviewing someone, I would want to get a feel for who the person is beyond their resume qualifications. If I've reviewed someone's resume and want to interview them, I already think they might be a good fit for the position based on their past experience/education. The interview would of course review that experience, but more importantly I want to see if the interviewee is someone I would look forward to working with and see as an asset to the team. So I would probably favor questions like "What is it that interests you about this position?" and "What aspects of your previous positions have you most enjoyed?"
Honestly, I don't mind being asked what my greatest weakness is. I've got plenty to choose from. I know what they are and how to manage them. My employer is going to find out about them sooner or later, so I might as well get it out of the way right off the bat.
Overall, though, I really hate the interview process. I wish my interviews could look like this. In my mind, most interviews look like this. So far, I'm convinced that most of my career success has been because of my resume and in spite of my interview skills.
I conducted almost 50 interviews this past January of applicants for next year's cohort at my current predoctoral clinical psychology internship. My least favorite question, though we always asked it (because you kind of have to), was "Why do you want to be here next year?" The vast majority of applicants gave generalized, boilerplate answers that could have literally applied to any internship in our field, or at least a large percentage of the internships. I zoned out two sentences in every single time. To be fair, I don't remember my own answer to that question and I'm sure it was equally mind-numbing.
My very favorite question to ask was, "If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?" The super-serious candidates would often get really thrown by it (I had one guy tell me straight up it was a dumb question), or they would loosen up a little and you could see a little more personality. Honestly, by the time a candidate gets to the interview stage, we've seen their application and we have a pretty good sense of whether they have the experience and the skills to hack it. What we really care about is how painful it might be to have to spend a year as a supervisor/peer/client/etc. of that person. It was interesting to discover that people tend to take three main approaches to answering that question: (1) they tell you what their favorite animal is, which is NOT the question; (2) they tell you what animal they think they are most like (I'd be a chimpanzee because I'm intelligent and social and loved to climb trees as a kid); (3) they tell you what animal they would want to be, often with really different qualities than they have (the short, anxious woman says she'd be a giraffe because they are tall and serene).
I have to say, asking that question was actually really helpful in remembering the candidates later on when we were discussing them. Some of their responses to that question were super endearing and very memorable. It's hard to forget the woman who says that she'd be a wallaby with lasagna inside her pouch.
For the record, I'd be a bat, because they are super cute and sweet, affiliated with Halloween, sleep a lot, and can fly around whenever they please. Also, some people find them a little spooky.
I've now been on the other side of the interviewing table many times, and I will tell you now: all of those questions you hate to answer, are the ones we love to ask.
The Soulful Ginger
Dear Recent Grad,
I was applying for crappy summer jobs a few weeks ago, and one place asked me to come work for them for free for a couple hours as my "interview." That is my new least favorite interview question.
My friend was just asked the question "How would somebody you don't get along with describe you?" at his recent job interview. It's an intriguing question, and although it might not be my least favorite it would definitely be one of the hardest ones for me to answer.
-the Goose Girl
Dear recent ~
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"
Um, dude. That's a long time. Are you asking myself to commit to your company for 10 years? Really? I guess I could lie... but that doesn't seem like the best answer either. I really don't know a good answer to this question.
~ Dragon Lady