Earlier this week, I came across a Learnvest article about inappropriate job interview questions and how to answer them. It got me thinking about the strangest interview questions that I’ve ever been asked.
I spent the bulk of my late teens and twenties competing in beauty pageants so I’ve been asked some doozies. “What kind of tree would you be, and why?” “Do you believe in ghosts?” “Pretend your on QVC, how do you sell yourself to me?” Apparently, you can purchase my dignity for four Flex Pay payments of $29.95, but my life as a pageant contestant is another post. Maybe another blog. This is about job interview questions.
The strangest question a hiring manager ever asked me happened during an interview for a temp position at a local media firm. It was summer semester and I was between jobs and thought a position buying commercial airtime for political campaigns would be a good learning experience.
After discussing my education and experience, the interviewer–a man who wore a gold bracelet with a chain so wide it could anchor a small boat–asked me, “Do you eat, or are you one of those women who’s on a diet all the time?” (There was tray covered in stale-looking cookies out on the table, and he was curious why I was the only candidate who hadn’t eaten one.)
Taken completely aback and utterly mystified by how to answer, I told him that I hadn’t eaten a cookie because I wanted to be able to speak freely during the interview. His response? “I don’t trust women who don’t eat.”
Fast realizing that this wasn’t someone that I wanted to work for, I shot back with something to the effect of, “That’s interesting, because I don’t trust people who eat crumbly, flavorless cookies served on plastic trays. I hope you find a man you think is qualified to have this job. Have a nice day.” I walked out so fast, I left a contrail behind me. I don’t recommend this strategy, but I was younger, bolder and more reckless then.
A grad school acquaintance was hired for the temp position. He quit after less than three weeks. The man who interviewed me apparently liked to duck out of the office for hours at a time to play golf and run errands, handing all of his work off to the temporary hires and junior staff. He would then alter the emails, logs and memos to look like he had done most of the work before putting them on the boss’s desk. What a gem.
Lesson: If someone makes you uncomfortable in a job interview, this may not be the person or the company you want to work for.
So have you ladies ever been asked a strange question in an interview or felt like the interviewer was trying to trick you? How did you handle the situation? And if you hire people as part of your duties, what’s the strangest question you’ve ever asked a candidate?