Job Seekers: Prepare For Bad Interview Questions

One of the guarantees I'd be willing to make with any job seeker is that you'll be asked unusual, strange, weird, and possibly illegal questions during an interview. I've surveyed several audiences of job seekers over the years and, in the majority of cases, more than half the audience was asked what appeared to be an illegal, personal question. However, equally concerning – and unfair to job seekers – are the strange questions that are asked. The reasons for this appear to be several:


Related: Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be Best – Part I

  • Many interviewers base their questions of some “favorite question" they think makes it certain they'll make a good hiring decision.
  • Some interviewers believe that asking “clever" questions make the candidates uneasy and shake them from their “canned" answers.
  • Most interviewers, particularly the hiring managers, conduct interviews infrequently.
  • Despite the popularity of interviewing skills as a training topic, the majority of people conducting interviews are untrained.
The bottom line is that there is a very high likelihood you will be asked bad questions by an untrained interviewer. Based on my informal polls of audiences ranging from college students to active job seekers, it is close to certainty. In a previous series of articles, I analyzed the “favorite" interview questions of several executives. I also provided how some of the bad questions could be answered. That is the answer to this reality. To address the problem of bad questions, you simply need to be prepared. And even though you cannot prepare for all the possible bad questions out there, you'll discover that if you've practiced providing great answers to good questions, you'll also discover that you've learned how to answer even some of the worst of the bad questions. Here's one: “What color are you?" Here's a challenge for you – a learning game filled with examples of bad questions, with opportunities identify the answers you should give to these questions – and the ones you want to avoid. Click on the following picture to take the challenge:

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About the author

Jim Schreier is a management consultant with a focus on management, leadership, including performance-based hiring and interviewing skills. Visit his website at www.farcliffs.com. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.
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Teacher lectures students in a classroom

My grandparents owned a two-story walkup in Brooklyn, New York. When I was a child, my cousins and I would take turns asking each other questions, Trivial Pursuit style. If we got the question correct, we moved up one step on the staircase. If we got the question wrong, we moved down one step. The winner was the person who reached the top landing first. While we each enjoyed serving as the “master of ceremonies on 69th Street,” peppering each other with rapid-fire questions, I enjoyed the role of maestro the most of all my cousins. I suppose I was destined to be an educator.

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