I hate interviews. And I know I’m not the only one. Hell, I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone who actually claims to enjoy interviews, and that includes recruiters.
OK, there might be one or two of those overly confident, cocksure bastards out there who go in knowing, and genuinely believing, that they’re going to ace the interview – after all, they always do. Except when they don’t.
It happens to all of us, really. Of course, in my case, I can’t even say I have a whole lot of fun even in those rare situations where I thought I’d nailed it. I’ve been wrong before.
Chances are, you’ve walked away confident that the offer was in the bag, only to hear a “thanks but no thanks” (or more often, nothing at all) instead for subjecting yourself to the painful protocol that is the professional interview.
And, of course, you take it personally – was it something I said? Should I have worn something different? Was it my chronic halitosis again? What’s wrong with me?
Even in the best case scenario, when you like the interviewer, and it seems like the interviewer likes you, there really isn’t a whole lot to like about interviews.
First off, there’s the logistical element involved. Before even going in, you have to find some excuse to get off work, find a tie or slacks that fit (or make that last minute trip to Marshall’s, more like), and, most dauntingly of all, find out where the hell the interview actually is in the first place.
It’s a nice bonus when recruiters send any modicum of instructions whatsoever besides maybe some address that you plug in only to realize that it takes you to the front gate of some huge office park, or else the lobby of a highrise with no contact person or suite number listed, an anxious security guard and a growing line of people waiting impatiently behind you.
I mean, in a lot of cases, fighting your way through traffic, finding parking and finding the right address should be enough to prove you’re sufficiently interested and qualified for the job. Unfortunately, of course, that’s only the first step in a very arduous, very painful march through the interviewing gauntlet.
If you arrive safely – and that’s a big if – you get rewarded with a ride on the “which floor is it?” game, where successful winners move onto the next round, a little something we like to call “The Lobby Game.” You know the one.
It’s like being in a giant labyrinth (only without David Bowie or a Minotaur), a maze game where you’re lucky if you don’t end up locked out in a stairwell wondering if the emergency exit is activated, or else having some awkward encounter in some executive washroom in some strange corner of the building you’re not supposed to be in.
It’s like Minesweeper, only way shittier – if such a thing is even possible. Either way, if you beat the odds and make it to the right place at the right time, somehow, you’re still no closer to winning than when you left the house. This, my friends, is the stuff we really should cover when we talk about improving the candidate experience. Because it sucks, big time.
When you show up panting and out of breath, of course, pressed suit wrinkled and brow dripping with sweat, having made it right in the stroke of time, are told by some secretary to take a seat. You plop down in the lobby, trying to catch your breath as you give the stink eye to every person entering or exiting the joint, pretending to thumb through some financial report or company brochure so you’ll win brownie points when your person finally shows up.
Whenever the hell that might be. And you wait, and you wait, and suddenly you’re second guessing yourself as to why you’re even there in your newly purchased Penny’s suit. Despite all your rage, you realize, you’re still just a rat in a cage. You’re trapped. And you’re going nowhere, fast.
Moments in an Elegy.
Typically, about 20 minutes after the scheduled start time, just when you’re about caught up on breath, out of patience and about to walk on back to the parking lot, some other secretary comes out and calls your name. You think, ‘finally’ – only they’re only there to show you to another room, where there are always a million chairs and never any windows.
It’s like a doctor’s office in there otherwise, spartan, starkly decorated, and you pull out your phone and try to keep your mind off the ticking clock, ears trained hopefully for the rattling of the door handle. Then, finally, you hear footsteps outside the conference room, the creaking of the door, and then…
I know. It sounds more like some episodic crime drama – or a horror movie – than a standard part of every employers’ hiring process or recruiting protocol. Not that there’s anything “standard” about them at all. Because, turns out, the typical interview is really anything but.
The fact is that candidates aren’t the only side to the interview equation, and while there’s always going to be a fear factor inherent to any process in which you’re more or less submitting yourself to subjective judgement by strangers, for some reason employers seem to do little to nothing to allay those fears or help candidates come in feeling confident, prepared and equipped to succeed in an interview.
Instead, it’s almost like we’re set up to fail – and the “make or break” stakes of this critical part of the process are often enough to break even the best candidates. Even the best opportunities might not be worth the opportunity cost of a crappy interview.
Transforming interviews from your greatest weakness into something that at least doesn’t suck all that badly for either side requires a little bit of strategy – and often, a fairly dramatic departure from the traditional approach many employers have traditionally taken towards interviewing. We need to get away from looking at interviewing as just another quality control check in which candidates are grilled with stupid questions instead of engaged in meaningful conversation.
We need to stop subjecting seekers to asinine questions about hypothetical situations instead of substantive, structured questions designed to dig deeper than the silly superficial stuff candidates are currently subjected to (no one’s going to give a meaningful answer when asked to “tell me about yourself.”) More importantly,we need to take a little advice from that old adage about interviewing and realize that preparation and practice really are everything – for recruiters and hiring stakeholders as well as candidates.
A study released today by career and recruiting marketplace Glassdoor suggests that not only do strategic interview questions and challenging selection processes enable employers to make better hiring decisions, but that there’s actually a statistical correlation between a tough interview process and long term employee satisfaction.
Now, let’s be clear – by “tough,” this means creating challenging questions predicated on core competency models or company culture fit, not making it impossible for candidates to figure out where the interview is, who they’re supposed to meet or even what position it is that they’re actually interviewing for.
Zeitgeist: The 10 Weirdest Job Interview Questions of 2016.
Sometimes, though, as the Glassdoor report demonstrated, some of these tough, effective interview questions from some of the world’s most competitive employers and biggest brands may sound a little silly, a bit strange or completely freaking weird.
Of course, that’s not necessarily always a bad thing. And there’s no way these questions could possibly be any worse than asking people about their greatest weakness, after all.
After looking through the complete report of Glassdoor’s Top 10 Oddball Interview Questions of 2016, I thought I’d cut through the career advice or job search “coaching” crap and try to have some fun with these batshit crazy interview questions.
So, I’m not going to tell you how to address or approach answering these, because hell if I have any idea, either.
But I thought I’d give each of them my best shot, since while there may be no such thing as a stupid question, there sure are some stupid people out there.
And there’s a good chance you’ll probably have to interview with a few of them on your next job search. Consider yourself warned.
- “When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?” –SpaceX Propulsion Structural Analyst job candidate (New York, NY).
- “Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?” –Whole Foods Market Meat Cutter job candidate (Lexington-Fayette, KY).
- “If you’re the CEO, what are the first three things you check about the business when you wake up?” – Dropbox Rotation Program job candidate (San Francisco, CA).
- “What would the name of your debut album be?” – Urban Outfitters Sales Associate job candidate (New York, NY).
- “How would you sell hot cocoa in Florida?” – J.W. Business Acquisitions Human Resources Recruiter job candidate (Atlanta, GA).
- “If I gave you $40,000 to start a business, what would you start?” – Hubspot Account Manager job candidate (San Francisco, CA).
- “What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?” – Trader Joe’s job candidate (Orange, CA).
- “If you were a brand, what would be your motto?” – Boston Consulting Group Consultant job candidate (Washington, D.C.).
- “How many basketballs would fit in this room?” – Delta Airlines Revenue Management Co-op job candidate (Cincinnati, OH).
- “If you had $2,000, how would you double it in 24 hours?” – Uniqlo Management Trainee job candidate (Los Angeles, CA).
To see the full Glassdoor report on the Top 10 Oddball Interview Questions for 2016 across North America and Europe, click here.
Editor’s Note: Glassdoor is a Recruiting Daily client, however, Recruiting Daily was not compensated for this post. The opinions expressed in this guest post do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher, nor do they constitute an endorsement for Glassdoor’s products or services.