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5 Stupid Questions I've Been Asked At Job Interviews

by David Langan
22 September 2014 28 Comments

Job interviews can often be a tense, nervous and sometimes awkward affairs. And questions like these certainly don't help...

Now, I get the feeling that I may not be the only one who’s had to subject myself to the not-entirely-welcome experience of attending multiple job interviews over the past couple of years. But then again, maybe it is just me, and the whole economic downturn thing is a vast conspiracy to mess me around and see how many doors have to get slammed in my face before I drop the pretence of civility and start taking hostages….

But on the off chance that there are one or two others in this country who are in the same boat, I’d like to share some of the stupid questions I’ve found myself being asked in these interviews. Keep in mind, these are just a broadly representative cross section; they’re not even the most stupid questions I’ve been asked. A lot of those have now been buried as suppressed memories, and will probably come back to haunt me in the years to come, like some form of post-traumatic stress (“Sarge! Sarge! I can smell HR. They out by the wire…”).

What did you most enjoy about your last role?

Just when did we start being so American about everything? What did I most enjoy about my last role? The sort of people who ask this question with a straight face are the same people who put the company they work for front-and-centre on their Facebook and Twitter profiles – the same company that will let them go like a post-curry fart the moment that keeping them on is less economically viable than getting shot of them. Now, don’t get me wrong; pay me a wage and point me in the direction of what you want done, and it will get done, with no fuss and the absolute minimum amount of whinging. I’m dependable that way. Just don’t ask me to use up emotional bandwidth actively enjoying the experience. The thing that I enjoyed most about my last job was exactly the same thing that my dad enjoyed about his, the same thing that his father enjoyed about his: the bit where you get to go home at the end of the day.

A gratuitously stupid question, and one that should be banned from use on the British mainland.


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How well do you cope with stress?

The irony of this question was that it was being asked (actually, at one point it was almost being shrieked) by an interviewer who looked like she was one bad morning away from climbing up a bell tower and dropping complete strangers with a few well-placed shots from a carbine. She kept asking the question throughout the interview, becoming more agitated each time. How well do I cope with stress? Well, obviously a little bit better than you, love.

How would you feel about working with people who are younger and more ambitious than you?

Where to start? Not only is this question guilty of making gross assumptions about the interviewee, but it marks the interviewer out as being, well, a bit of a clueless, arrogant twat. So all your people are ambitious, are they? Right, we’ll go ahead and suppose that the absolute minimum expression of this ambition is that they expect to be managing their own team within a couple of years, okay? Given that your company revolves around teams of at least six people, that means that your organisation needs to expand six-fold in that same time period, or risk thwarting the ambition of your employees, yes? Now that’s not a very realistic goal in the current climate, is it, fucknuts? So either you’re a) training people up so they can go and work for one of your competitors in a couple of years time, in which case you should shut the fuck up, or b) your people aren’t quite as ambitious as you like to think, in which case you should probably go ahead and shut the fuck up.

Of course, that would be the eloquent way of answering that particular question, but it’s not the first response that springs to mind. The response that first springs to mind is “How would you feel about me ramming that telephone on the desk so far up your arse that you’ll have to pick your nose just to get an outside line?”

What would you do about Saddam Hussein?

Given that this is now a moot point, you can probably guess that it wasn’t asked recently, so maybe asking daft fucking questions isn’t a such a new phenomenon (though it certainly seems to have gone up a few notches in the last couple of years).

To give this question some context, I was interviewing for a very junior role in the MOD, years and years ago. As far as I was concerned, I’d be making sure that all the office paper clips were properly accounted for, and ensuring that the photocopier was ready for deployment at a moment’s notice. What would I do about Saddam Hussein? I didn’t realise that was going to be my responsibility. Jesus Christ, don’t you have people for that?

But in reality, my ideal job? Well, I’d probably have to say Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue

What would be your ideal job? 

Maybe this was a trick question. Maybe the answer they were looking for was “This job. Absolutely this job. I would enjoy nothing more than sitting in your dingy little office, fielding phone calls about fuck-ups that occurred way before my time with the company, with the express train to Bristol clattering past the back window every twenty minutes and shaking another ceiling tile loose, for a wage so derisory I would have told you where to shove it back in 2005.”

But in reality, my ideal job? Well, I’d probably have to say Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue.

I can imagine it now: “Oh yes, that’s actually very nice….no, there’s no need to get it all in – you’re an extremely attractive woman, Miss Minogue, but gagging just isn’t a good look for anyone….oh that’s new, yes I like that…….wait………wait…………..oh, my……there we go. Right, I think that’s it for this morning. I’m thinking a quick bite of lunch, then back here for more of the same? Except maybe this time we’ll see if you can still fit into those gold shorts from the Spinning Around video. What’s that? You need me to come in this weekend? Saturday and Sunday? Well, of course, if you think it’s absolutely necessary….”


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image descriptionCOMMENTS

HardcorePrawn 5:27 am, 23-Jul-2012

"... my ideal job? Well, I’d probably have to say Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue." That is laugh-out-loud comedy genius.

Brodie Smithers 9:39 am, 23-Jul-2012

Great article. Someone once asked me in an interview "If you were a character in Eastenders who would you be?" - I told them "I would be Dirty Den because he's dead and had a least been put out of his misery." - They weren't impressed.

Howard 9:51 am, 23-Jul-2012

I've spent the last 15 years interviewing people as a key part of my job. Best answer ever to "what are your weaknesses?" was "gambling & blondes".

mike 10:54 am, 23-Jul-2012

i was once asked if i would kill for the company and if so who at the interview would it be ,and this for a job at the then price waterhouse, i got job and never had to kill anyone, but i did say i would kill the person who was asking the question

Cpn Dallas 11:31 am, 23-Jul-2012

This is all solid gold. I hate people who proclaim they love their work to such a degree that they stay until silly o'clock, neglecting the people they *should* be trying to impress, i.e. family. They just don't grasp that the man they're trying so desperately hard to impress would drop them like a bad habit if it meant he'd get an extra shilling in his bonus.

Robert 12:31 pm, 23-Jul-2012

Why do I want to work here? Because as Homer Simpson once noted, money can be exchanged for goods and services.

Bob 2:27 pm, 23-Jul-2012

Very good read that, thank you.

dfsf 7:03 pm, 23-Jul-2012

none of these questions are stupid questions. the writer is clearly a buffoon of the highest order: go read what moot actually means, and " Blow Job Tester for Kylie Minogue" means you'd be testing blow jobs on the behalf of kylie minogue. cretinous from start to finish.

Ian McShane 8:30 pm, 23-Jul-2012

I was once asked "If you were a piece of furniture, what furniture would you be?" I replied, "A sofa. I'd just sit there and be reliable...And comfortable...And just, erm, always there?" Didn't get the job, oddly.

Nick 1:13 am, 29-Nov-2012

Ian - you should have said "a stool"

Chris 6:17 pm, 3-Jan-2013

The correct answer to the Eastenders questions is Phil Mitchell: He works on his own initaitve, always goes the extra mile to get the job done, and doesn't mind putting in a bit of brunt work.

Steve 8:03 am, 6-Feb-2013

One Ass H... asked me the question, how I would explain the differance between shade and shadow to a blind. By the way I was interviewed for a post of Collection Manager in a Bank.I'm still trying to figure out whether that was a indirect way of telling 'Your out'

Washishu 3:23 pm, 10-Feb-2013

No Steve, the reason "your out" is because you're barely literate. Or dyslexic maybe, in which case I apogolise.

Stan Dalglish 8:05 pm, 20-Feb-2013

I was once told halfway through an interview by the interviewer, 'I have not made my mind up on you yet?'. I saved him the trouble and walked out.

Johnno 2:05 pm, 5-Mar-2013

Why do I get the sense that whole column was written just so the author could get the Kylie fantasy into print...?

Rebecca 2:53 pm, 5-Mar-2013

I was recently asked in a telephone interview if living in Swansea would be a problem for a job based in London. I suppose the fact I was moving wasn't implied as obviously as I thought it was by my application for the job!

Jeff 7:05 pm, 3-Apr-2013

That was funny until you got all randy at the end.

Mike Beard 3:51 pm, 24-May-2013

Got asked this recently by the most boring interviewer ever and this was before we even started the interview. He looked at an evaluation I'd done in preparation for the interview and asked why I'd used a certain font (it wasn't wingdings or something odd), just something very normal and common. The boring twat just kept talking about it. Utter cretin.

Dougie 5:40 pm, 31-May-2013

And when a largish PR company in Harrogate offered me a job and I said no, the man then kept asking me why not, and then slammed the phone down when I would answer. The reason I didn't want to work there was because I asked at the interview about a pension and was told: "If you want a pension, you sort the fucking thing out yourself!"

Cabmerlot 6:30 am, 1-Jun-2013

Spot on! Oddest question I've ever had was - is it true that it's the male seahorse that gives birth? Totally unrelated to job I was applying for. I'm a buyer.

Owen 7:02 pm, 12-Jun-2013

Spot on, I can't help but think the rot started was when Personnel departments turned into the Human Resources departments. Once you were a person considered on your merits for the job but now you are a resource to be ditched as soon as some dribbling upper management scrote decides that there needs to be a re-organisation or some other toss. I tend to go to interviews with the attitude that you've seen my CV asked me in for an interview and if you are going to ask me inane questions unrelated to the job I'm applying for then I'm going to be brutally honest when you ask me bullshit questions. The HR types don't tend to like it but every job I've been offered has been because the managers knew what kind of person and skills they wanted and couldn't be arsed with the bollocks that HR was up to. Your mileage may vary of course.

Keith 9:07 pm, 14-Jun-2013

I usually (and successfully) make it clear to the interviewer (who's usually a twenty-something, semi-literate Twat) that the "interview is a two-way street...I'm interviewing YOU, as well." scares the shite outta them.

JC 6:04 pm, 2-Aug-2013

"What do you dream of?" comes to mind as the most awkward-silence inducing question posed in recent interviews.

Robert Kelsey 12:41 pm, 29-Sep-2013

What a depressing article. Each one of those questions was trying to illicit something about you as a person and your attitude to work. My guess is that you failed every time. What's really depressing is that it's state-school kids that usually have this attitude (as I did when young). Meanwhile, the posh kids know the score and sail through this process. One more way in which our education system fails the bright unprivileged kids. Pity you seem to think that a virtue. See my blog on this: Robert Kelsey, author: What's Stopping You? and What's Stopping You Being More Confident?

The Baron 1:22 am, 2-Oct-2013

What they failed to teach the self-styled author Robert Kelsey at Hylands Comp was the difference between "illicit" and "elicit". The stupid bastard.

Dan Burke 12:11 pm, 22-Sep-2014

Great article. Dan Burke, author: Why Is Robert Kelsey Such A Douchebag?

steff 12:19 pm, 22-Sep-2014

On the furniture question, you should have said an occasional table, what you do in your own time is your own business.

Vin 6:56 pm, 22-Sep-2014

So this blow job tester for Kylie; does that mean you GAVE the blow jobs to assess whether they were clean enough for her? Well, whatever lights your candle Dave.

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