The Ten Worst Job Interview Questions Ever

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The Ten Worst Job Interview Questions Ever

What was the worst job interview question you were ever asked? Good interview questions can help employers judge the technical qualifications, people skills, problem solving approach, and team fit of prospective employees. Bad interview questions do none of canada goose park
those. Instead, they confuse, irk, or offend the applicant (often in combination). Our ten worst job interview questions exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

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Illegal – Ask about certain topics and it’s “Do not pass Go; do not collect your next paycheck.” Your employer has been advised to reduce its liabilities, and that means you.
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Useless – questions test trivial knowledge that has no bearing on aptitude or generate pseudopsychological responses that Dr. Phil could bloviate on for an entire episode.
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Hackneyed – There’s an old saying: “If you’re one in a million, you have 1,000 clones in the People’s Republic of China.” These questions were once original, but they’ve been asked so many times that everyone has memorized ‘pat’ answers to them.

Here are BusinessPundit’s ten worst job interview questions, along with the characteristics that got them on the list, and some possible rejoinders. Please note that being asked any of these questions should make you seriously consider whether you want to entrust your livelihood and sanity to this organization.

#10 – What interests you about our company?

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“Um, I heard you were hiring?”

#9 – Have you ever brought a lawsuit against an employer?

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You can’t ask about this or age, race, health/marital/personal/family issues, and arrests, among other things. You have a choice of responses to this one. You can use the old, boring “I don’t think that’s an appropriate question” line, or you can allow the interviewer to save face with something like “No, but I’m always open to new experiences”.

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#8 – Why did you take the pen from me?

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In this one, the interviewer picks up a pen and holds it out halfway between herself and the applicant, and then silently waits for a response. Eventually the person will ask “what are you doing”, or, more often, take the pen. I would recommend: “When I saw you holding out the pen, I knew what you were doing. Taking it was the fastest way to get the heck out of here. Good day!” If you want to stick around, you can always grab the pen with your thumb and forefinger just above the interviewer’s (ala the old sandlot baseball method for deciding who gets to bat first) and wait for her next move.

#7 – Can you work under pressure?

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Who is going to say no? You could answer “I’ve been tested to 12 ft-lbs per square inch”, or if you can completely change the tenor of the conversation with “If I don’t get this job I’ll lose my house, my wife, and the eight third-world children I’ve been supporting will be doomed to starvation. How’m I doing so far?”

#6 – If you were a ‘Lost’ character, which one would you be?

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Applicant: “Jack” Interviewer: (Raises eyebrow) “Jack?” Applicant: (Pauses and gazes upward as if in deep thought, and then looks interviewer directly in the eye) “Definitely. Jack. But what does that have to do with being an Accounts Payable Clerk 1?” This is a variant of the old “If you were an animal, which one would you be?” question. If asked that question, you might want to go with Sasquatch, noting that “I read that they are telepathic, and that would make this interview go a lot easier!”

#5 – How do you define sexual harrassment?

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“You nailed it! Nice one.” Or if you’re ready to leave “Come closer and I’ll show you.”

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#4 – What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?

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Upon further consideration, this could be a valid “team fit” question in certain technical disciplines.

#3 – Do you ever abuse alcohol or drugs?

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“I didn’t realize I had to choose”, or the more tactful “You do realize that the people who test body fluid samples are part of the Teamster’s union? They don’t like people cutting in on their territory.”

#2 – What is your biggest weakness?

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This question got serious consideration for the top spot, but it’s only the second most likely question to pop up in an interview. All the interviewing tactics books tell you to develop a response that actually demonstrates a strength. Don’t dignify an awful question with a thoughtful response. First, startle the interviewer by saying “I have two”, and then continue with “one, I have an aversion to kryptonite but it doesn’t normally affect my work, and two, you really don’t want me to work overtime during a full moon. Seriously.” You’ll be doing the parting handshake in no time.

#1 – Where do you see yourself in five years?

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Possibly a Trifecta if family issues will effect your career planning! Undoubtedly you have either already heard it or you will in an upcoming interview. Depending upon how fast you want to get out of there you can go with: “In mirrors and on YouTube. Unless I’m undead; then only on YouTube.” Or the ever-popular: “Asking you this question as you ‘reinterview for your position’ “ (don’t forget the menacing air quotes). Rubbing your hands together and cackling works nicely, too.

Do you have a worse interview question? A better answer to one of these? Come on! Everyone has a job interview horror story. Let us hear it in the comments section!

Leave a response
  • Ryan
    April 1, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    ROTFLMAO. Holy crap. This post made my week.

  • April 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve actually been asked about drug use – who knew NO was the wrong answer? But my favorite interview questions are: (and you have to imagine a thick Texas drawl)
    – We don’t look to kindly on porn here. You look at porn?
    – You’re not going to let a bunch of work just pile up in your office are you?
    At least that guy cut to the chase.

  • April 1, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    The ever-popular:

    “Describe yourself in three words” or “What was the greatest challenge you have overcome and how did you grow as a person from it”

    Utterly. Useless.

  • April 1, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Worst part is, I’ve been asked almost all of these questions regularly.

  • mike
    April 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm


    That was the reaction I was hoping for. Thanks!


  • mike
    April 1, 2008 at 9:18 pm


    “- You’re not going to let a bunch of work just pile up in your office are you?”

    I’d be doomed at that place. I’ve spent many hours with Texas good ol’ boys, so I laughed imagining that first question!


  • mike
    April 1, 2008 at 9:22 pm


    Describe yourself in three words gets honorable mention. I might start with “What” and “the”. You can probably guess the third.

    As for your second question, I think it’s useful to ask about challenges faced and met, but the “how did you grow as a person” part makes me want to wretch. How else am I supposed to grow? Sprout crystals like Space Godzilla?


  • mike
    April 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm


    If this post changes the bad interviewing behavior of even one hiring manager, it will all have been worth it. Increase the chances by spreading the word…and thanks for stopping by!


  • April 2, 2008 at 6:16 am

    I think the best part of an interview is when your asked, “do you have any questions for us?” I always wanted to reply, “Yes if a car is travelling at the speed of light and you turn the head lights on, what will happen?”

    When they reply, “I’ve no idea”, simply stand up and say, “Well I’m sorry this isn’t a place I can see myself working for then”..

  • TC
    April 2, 2008 at 6:19 am

    LOL @ “ft-lbs per square inch”! That is not a unit of pressure. “lbs per square inch” is a unit of pressure.

  • April 2, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Dean, actually there are a few answers to that (do you have any questions for us?):

    You can ask how many employees left the company in the last year and why 😀 (it’s a valid question, and you can see if they’re bullshitting you, if they become tense, or if they feel they have reasons to be proud (very seldom).

    You can ask what of what they told you about the company is covered by a NDA.

    You can ask … well lots of things actually.

    Regarding the article: nice list 😀

  • zack
    April 2, 2008 at 7:47 am

    A friend was just interviewing for a job and they asked him whether or not he’d get into a transporter if they existed as they do in Star Trek. Good philosophical question, gauges team fit for geekiness. He ended up with the job eventually, and the fact that they’d even ask such a ridiculous question about a subject he’s spent many hours pondering made him really want to work there too.

  • Jorge
    April 2, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Mitch Hedberg: I had a job interview with an insurance company, and the lady said, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I said, “Celebrating the fifth year anniversary of you asking me that question.”

  • Leroy Jones
    April 2, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I had one manager close his eyes, put his feet up on the desk, and barely speak to me, “it was just too early for this” he told me. Between 10 second power naps, he was able to inform me that if I was a big breasted blond, the interview would be over and I would have the job. I sure should have listened to the HR manager who told me that Jim was quite flippant.

    I’ve had people ask me riddles, that “aren’t a part of the interview” then tell me how they disqualified people who got it wrong. I’ve gotten just about 80% of the questions on this list, 75% on a regular basis. I have never thought of just answering how I want and leaving, that might not be a bad idea.

  • April 2, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Not to me, but to a friend:
    After having told that a better work-life balance was the reason for a career switch, the interviewer retunred with:
    “I see here that you are alone, why do you need a life?”

  • Dick C. Flatline
    April 2, 2008 at 8:24 am

    There is an entire subspecies of homo sapiens whose livelihood depends upon asking intelligent people stupid questions. The intelligent people then have to pretend to be something they’re not in order to get hired by a company that “puts a premium on honesty”.

    On consideration, this seems to work pretty much like the court system.

  • david
    April 2, 2008 at 8:24 am

    What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?

    The only correct answer to this one is: African or European swallow?

  • anonymous
    April 2, 2008 at 8:42 am

    You missed the classic Mitch Hedburg response to the last question:

    Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    A: Celebrating the 5-year anniversary of you asking me this question!

  • James
    April 2, 2008 at 9:00 am

    “Are you a team player ?”

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:08 am


    Good one! My first response would be “What propulsion system are you using?”, which would buy me some time. The actual answer depends on perspective, dispersion pattern of the light source, and the presence of any secondary light sources. If I’m in the car, I don’t see any change. Outside perspectives will vary based on the factors mentioned.


  • Mike Noone
    April 2, 2008 at 9:11 am

    “Describe yourself in just three words” – I am AWESOME

    “What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?”



    42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. No one knew what the question is. But the question is “what is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?”

  • Brian
    April 2, 2008 at 9:51 am

    #1 – Where do you see yourself in five years?

    Mitch Hedberg said it best,

    “Celebrating the 5th anniversary of you asking me that question!”

  • April 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Is it bad that I copied down a few of these questions to use in my next interview? 😉

  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 10:10 am


    I would encourage all managers to keep a few of these on hand to use in case they encounter a particularly annoying candidate. :-)


  • April 2, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Good post, although I fail to see what’s illegal about questions 7, 2 & 1. Anyone able to explain why those are illegal?

  • David Gustafson
    April 2, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Excellent, Dean. I think I may use that.
    For your amusement the answer lays in the fact that your question is flawed. In order to make even a pound of mass go “the speed of light” you’d consume more energy than I bet you can imagine. Furthermore, a car going the speed of light would exist in an already time-dilated capsule, so the light would appear to an outside observer to be going very slowly (it is completely possible to slow light down).

    My favorite interview question has always been the ones that test engineering skills relying on my ability to estimate. Ex: If you dropped a bowling ball in the Marianna Trench, how long would it take before it hit the bottom? Response: Isn’t a bowling ball made out of wood? Even if it’s a fairly dense wood, it would surely reach equilibrium with the surrounding water density before the bottom. So “never”.

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I think that I will use the answers provided in my next interview. They seem to have an air about them that smells like methane.

  • PS
    April 2, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Stupid questions are not always stupid. I used to share the common view that idiotic, HR type questions served no purpose only to show how equally idiotic the person asking them was.

    Years ago, I was conducting interviews for software development roles, and was required to use a couple of these by management, and I’ve never looked back. The reason is, many interviewees are unable to hide their scorn when they hear these questions. Their lips turn into a smirk, and they look at you as if you’re a pathetic excuse for a human being.

    We were hiring developers who would have to attend meetings with real, honest to God clients. Asking the ‘silly’ questions proved an excellent way of trimming out the superior son’s of bitches who would only piss off our clients. There’s a place for arrogant developers, but it’s not of front of paying clients.

  • Dan
    April 2, 2008 at 11:04 am

    I think you have your “illegal” and “hackneyed” icons mixed up.

  • Steve
    April 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I was asked the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” question in an interview. I think it’s a decent question, in that it gives the employer an opportunity to better understand the long-term direction and growth the applicant envisions.

    The major concern I have, however, with that question is that unless the employer is prepared to offer a 5-year contract, what’s the point? If it’s an at-will job, why would the applicant commit to the company for 5 years?

    Also, I’ll note that when asked that question, I consider it fair game to return the question. I answered honestly; then I asked the interviewer: “Where do you see your company in 5 years?”. It was a thoughtful response.

  • Heather
    April 2, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I heard of a question (used by Great Plains when it was not owned by MS) that is similar yet unsimilar to the top question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” – but way, way weirder. The question was “What would you like to see on your tombstone when you die?” This one gains both creepy and throwing you way off track points.

    There’s only a couple ways to answer that one – none of which relate to work. But kudos to HR imagination here. At least it is inventive – now watch the candidate squirm.

  • April 2, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Will I be disqualified if I don’t watch Lost? Oh Oh can I be “The Doctor”?!?!

  • mister_fab
    April 2, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    for the #4 the answer is obviously different depending if you are talking of an African swallow or an European one.

  • sebastien
    April 2, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Someone for a sale position asked me, “Do you like selling?”
    I immediately answered, “oh, no! I hate having to sell things. i can only sells things that i love, And you store is fortunately full of those.”

    Also, in the questionnaire, “would you tell the boss of your brother or sister that he or she is stealing in their job.” Answer, no. They look for honesty. saying that you would snitch a family member is a complete lie and “they” know it.

    In short, stay truthful to yourself: answer without fear but without much wit either.

    I got that job…. with 5 bucks more per hours than what a salesman commonly starts in that company.

  • chicklet
    April 2, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    My favorite was: “Based on what you know about us, (from the 30 minute interview) what would you suggest we change in order to improve our mission?”

    I should have run screaming, right then and there.

  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 1:55 pm


    Busted! Physics loses out to alliteration.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm


    You have wide latitude in what you can ask. I think Rob should add a few of your questions to his list… 😉


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 1:58 pm


    Good ‘team fit’ questions can be way out of the ordinary, because depicting team psyche can take you strange places.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 1:59 pm


    Mitch’s answer is the nicest, most face-saving answer possible.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Mr. Jones,

    Flippant is putting it nicely. Refer to question #5.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Prof kienstra,

    “Thanks for the reminder.”


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm


    Now you’re scaring me!


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:04 pm


    Yes! Now tell me about your unix kernel hacking sk1llz.


  • Kung-food
    April 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Heather, I would probably be one of the few candidates to not be thrown by the question,” what would you like to see on your tombstone when you die?” You’d be suprized how many candidates would be able to calmly answer the question which, might also lead the employer to question their sanity and 5-year plan.

    …My answer: At least I tried.

  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:09 pm


    Honorable mention! And “Yes, in the Philadelphia 76ers – Allen Iverson kind of way.”


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Mike Noone,

    All I can say is: You ARE awesome!


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm


    Mitch is so nice.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm


    Icon snafu on #7 and #2. If I were a woman in her 20s or 30s, I could find an EEOC lawyer who would take my case.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:14 pm


    Nice observations! You’d have gotten me with that Marianas Trench one (but Rob and I will be using it in the future). 😉

    As for the speed of light one, if you’re directly behind the car, light never gets to you. If you’re directly in front (with no dispersion and assuming you’re not directly in the flight path [splat]), you also see nothing, because nothing can get in front of the vehicle.

    Whoa, that’s geeky.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:15 pm


    Greenhouse gases rule!


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm


    I’d rather ask real client-type questions than bad surrogates, but your point is well taken.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Other Dan,

    Yes, icon malfunction! Still getting used to this customized WordPress.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm


    “Where do you see your company so that I can put my answer in proper context?” is the straight answer to that question. I agree with you completely.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm


    “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” If they don’t get it, go someplace else.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Cigar Jack,

    “Jack” was the only character name I could remember. Feel free to be anyone you want. Just don’t try to justify your choice.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm


    “African or European” is the correct response!


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm


    That works.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm


    Definitely hit the ground running. “Either world peace or world domination, I’d need another 30 minutes to figure out which one” might also work.


  • mike
    April 2, 2008 at 2:36 pm


    That answer to the “Do you like to sell” question was brilliant!

    Being true to yourself is always the best policy.


  • dave
    April 2, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    In regards to question #4 – What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?…

    The proper response would be;
    “I’ll get it on it right away. When would you like the information? Would you prefer a presentation or a simple report?”

  • Tom
    April 2, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    “How many hours a week do you like to work?”

    I answered with “How much would you like to pay for this car?”

    I was offered the job.

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm




  • April 2, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    What a great list to remind me of how lucky I am to not have a “real job.” That stuff drives me absolutely bananas.

  • Brian
    April 2, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    What would I want on my tombstone? Nothing. I don’t intend to have a tombstone.

  • Vix
    April 2, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I ask:
    “Describe your best friend, what he or she does for a living, and how you are alike, and how you are different from your best friend.”
    Most people forget to tell me what their best friend does for a living, so it’s good when someone catches that. But with this question, I get them to talk about themselves in relation to another person. I really get to see people loosen up and smile for a moment.
    I then follow up on that question with, “If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?”

    I also ask what they liked least about their last boss.
    And, “What do you feel would be an acceptable attendance record, how many times late or absent in a month?”

    That all being said, I work in a pretty chill environment, maybe for a super-professional interview, these questions are unheard of.

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Dave, you insipid toadie…when can you start?

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 8:10 pm


    Thanks for rubbing it in! Good for you.


  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 8:12 pm


    I like it, but letś take it up a notch with something like

    There can be only one – and itś me. I wont be needing a tombstone, thank you.


  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 8:13 pm


    Good ones. The acceptable attendance one is interesting. What kinds of answers do you get?


  • Steve
    April 2, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Here is how I would respond to the “airspeed of unladen swallow” question:

    “I would have to ask for more information on the circumstances. Now the obvious first question is the geographic origin of the swallow but I doubt that that would actually be a large determining factor in coming to a meaningful conclusion. I can’t imagine that the differences in sub-species of swallows would account for more than a small fraction of a difference in airspeeds given that all other factors are the same.

    More important aspects would be the density and makeup of the air the swallow is traveling in, whether the swallow is traveling in any sort of wind, whether the swallow is traveling under its own power, etc.

    A scenario where our hapless bird is shot out of a cannon with a head wind in Denver will have a dramatically different answer than a swallow traveling under its own power at sea level in calm.

    Additionally, even if I was given this information I would have to confess my ignorance being that I am neither an aeronautical engineer nor an ornithologist”

    I mean, if they want nerd I am going to give them NERD!!

  • Gork
    April 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    If you were a tree, what would be your greatest weakness?

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:15 pm


    The part about the swallow traveling under its own power is a good one. You could just answer “574 knots when in the cargo hold of a 747”, which would be technically correct. Excellent work!


  • April 2, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    One of the few funny things I’ve seen on Digg in weeks*.

    * Ever.

  • April 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    That is an absolutely fabulous list, you made my day.
    How do you feel about making the reverse list, “The Ten Best Job Interview Questions Ever”
    Hopefully readers won’t take the title sarcastically or else we will be back at square one.
    I also know it will be tough to generalize all the questions to be non job specific but you are a talented man and I am sure you can find a way to do it.
    Thanks again,

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:28 pm


    Separation anxiety when the acorns fall every year…you never get over it no matter how many rings you have! :-(


  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Thank you Sheamus!


  • April 2, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Vix, I really like your questions… Actually showing up is key to any business (well more to it, but it’s a great start). Excellent article! I have been asked a few of these, and cringe at my own stuttered responses. Being in my field for a bit, I’ve gone from front line to Manager, and I get to hire. Here’s a few I use:

    Tell me a joke.
    – Tells much about a person. The content, and the actual delivery. (FYI this is a mean question. I was asked this 10 years ago, and before all my interviews, I still read through a list of jokes, just in case.)

    If I told you this interview was going poorly, what would you do?
    – Again, a really mean question, but one I think far more effective than “Can you work under pressure?”

    If you won 300 Million dollars, what would you do with it?
    – I like using this as an icebreaker. Gets them to loosen up, and shows a few personal motivators.

    Tell me about a time when you messed something up. What did you do to fix it?
    – I like questions that you can’t really positively answer right off the bat, but can frame in your answer to be a positive one. After all, to err is human, to learn is divine (I so deserve hackneyed for that one come on!!)

    Here’s my last one. If you could change one of our laws, what would it be, and why?
    – Gives a little insight. A note however, you will be guaranteed some very interesting answers.

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm


    I suppose it’s only fair, so I’ll take up the challenge. I’ve got to give the HR folks some hope! The biggest challenge is how to work in the snark factor… 😉


  • April 2, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Very good sir, I can’t wait to see the results.

  • Evan
    April 2, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

    In the mirror.

  • Pete
    April 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    “If you were a tree, what would be your greatest weakness?”


  • Pete
    April 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Doh! Can’t type. But you get the idea. :-)

  • Sam
    April 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Geek factor?

    Who owns the Tardis? Usual response “Huh?”

    Technical: Tell me why the OSI 7 layer model is like a baseball game. Responses vary. No correct answer. Determines powers of analogy, expression, thinking, and depth of technical networking knowledge.

    Technical 2: Who invented the Internet. Answers vary, from Al Gore, AOL, Vint Cerf, CERN, BBN, MIT model rail road club. Gives a good depth of knowledge and historical understanding of the discipline.

    Team natured: Which is more important customer service or teamwork and why? (Personal belief the customer is NOT always right).

    Team natured: Given 2 hours a day to work on any project personal or business what do you choose? (Wide variety of answers and usually illuminating in their lack or grandeur)

    Orienting question: The job is tedium with moments of panic. Do you manage the panic or the tedium? Usually gives some good ideas about leadership and thinking strategies.

    Structured for failure: Given a network of 100 people, 25 servers, five heterogeneous operating system platforms, fractured by three noncontiguous subnets, and a hostile work force how would you prioritize delivery of services across the enterprise? Answer vary widely but usually start with “Can you repeat that?”, or “Carefully”. Of course the idea is to get them to break it down and there is not right answer.

    I don’t really take interviews anymore. Either you need problems fixed and want the pain to go away or you don’t. If you’ve called me then you know who I am and an interview would be a waste of time for both of us. After the BS of 1999 and headhunters by 2002 I quit doing spoiler interviews.

    Great post Mike.

  • Kelly
    April 2, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Toughest question: What is the most you have ever stolen from an employer before . . . (pause) $50,000? (Then wait for the interviewee to say, “Oh, not that much!” You now know that you’re interviewing a thief, just not a very good one, and he knows he’s been nailed.

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm


    If you check the original text you will see:

    “In mirrors and on YouTube. Unless I’m undead; then only on YouTube.”

    I like the way you think!


  • April 2, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    OMG, I thought I was laughing at the article, then I hit some of the comments. Undead… classic!

  • haid
    April 2, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    an owner of a startup obviously had a problem & was looking for free consulting.
    The questions were way too focused on the issues and had nothing to do with me.
    after an hour and a half, I just said I don’t want to work here.

  • Gerald
    April 2, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Q: Are you a team player ?
    A: For the Horde!!! (world of warcraft)

    Q: What would you like to see on your tombstone when you die?
    A: Went for a walk. Be back soon.

    Q: Based on what you know about us, (from the 30 minute interview) what would you suggest we change in order to improve our mission?
    A: Improve?? There’s something wrong with it???

    Q: What do you feel would be an acceptable attendance record, how many times late or absent in a month?
    A: none if possible but if your sick your sick.

    Q: If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?
    A: why would I change my personality?? I’m perfect the way I am.

    Q: What is your biggest weakness?
    A: interviews, how am I doing so far?

    Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
    A: building a time machine to go back 5 years to tell myself where I was in 5 years from now.

    Q: when can you start?
    A: right away if you want me to.
    (I was asked the last question before and I started right after the interview was over.)

  • David
    April 2, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    I had “if you were on our corporate softball team what position would you play and why?”

    Way before then I knew I didn’t want the job so I replied “I don’t like to play baseball or any other team sports.”

    At the same interview I was also asked the “What interests you about our company?” question.

  • molly
    April 2, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    “did you enjoy high school?” the worst part was i couldnt tell if it was a trick question or if the person doing the interview was a former cheerleader

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm


    “If you were a tree, what would your greatest weakness be?”

    Separation anxiety when the acorns fall. No matter how many rings you have, it always hurts!”


  • Jack
    April 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Not all bowling balls float, something you should know if you’re going to ask the question in an interview. Bowling balls are all the same size but not the same weight.

    Worst question? All of them asked at Microsoft, they have the stupidest interview process around.

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:12 pm


    Now that I’ve committed to doing a “ten best”, I’ll be appropriating from your list. In fact, I may copy the whole thing. The “tedium or panic” one may get a post of its own.

    Thanks for all of those!


  • April 2, 2008 at 10:13 pm


    That’s devious. I love it! 😉


  • April 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm


    There IS a fine line between interviewing someone and pumping them for information. I’ve seen that when people interview employees of competitors. Not fun if you’re the pumpee. Good for you for walking out! :-)


  • Matt
    April 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    For the “How do you define sexual harrasment?” question…i got this once. I looked her(yes female interviewer) right dead in the eyes with a straight face and said “It’s not sexual harrasment if you like it.” Got up and left. Didn’t want a job where they ask that question to their employees.

  • Mark
    April 2, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I like the above answer to the swallow question…I completely agree with you Mike.

    What would you want on your tombstone?

    if (age_of_demise == (80+)) {
    printf(“Well he was RIPe when he died! – (RIPe = Resting
    In Peace.)”);
    } else if (age_of_demise == (30-)) {
    printf(“Killed by roadrage\n”);
    } else {
    printf(“Victim of office policy\n”);

    I was asked a few weird questions on my first interview.

    1. What is your biggest strength? A. Logic!!!
    2. Well, if your strength is logic, do you believe in god?
    A. Logic can get you answers for 90% of the questions, but for the remaining 10% you have to have belief. So, I have belief. I think this kinda drove home the point on the prev question.

  • Josh
    April 2, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I was actually asked the following question when being interviewed for Starbucks:

    “So, what excites you MOST about working in the service industry?”

    This question is wrong on at least two different levels. I’m sure they’re as obvious to you as they were to me.

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:50 pm


    The best one is:
    “What interests you about our company?”

    Dumb Human Resources “techniques”.

  • employee
    April 2, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Why do you want to work here?
    Tell me why you think I should hire you.

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:53 pm


    I’ve hired literally hundreds (thousands? nyah) of tech people for projects in the past. I’ve tried highly technical interviews, the lunch “order anything on the menu”, the psychological mumbo jumbo IDPN, or IDPJ(?), but the most effective thing I’ve found has been trying to find somebody who fits. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we get it wrong (my average would make me a god as a baseball batter).

    “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”
    Red Adair

    When I meet with HR about filling positions and I put a management team together I make them interview me like they will the candidates. They’ve likely already been interviewed a few times by me so they have a clue. We’re required usually to standardize questions and log all follow up questions so we stick with basics that identify a suitable candidate.

    I usually scope projects to pay outrageously and hire fewer people looking for hero’s. Not a sound business practice to most MBA’s but highly effective in the realm of information technology security consulting.

    Another favorite that I used to get asked by candidates was “How much does the job pay”, now I’m not hiring desktop repair guys, so I rephrase the question back to them like “What kind of compensation are you looking for?”, answers will vary. Those that consider the entirety of the benefits package from vacation to salary are always more interesting then those who spit out a singular dollar figure.

    I can’t wait to read the top ten good questions.

  • April 2, 2008 at 10:57 pm


    I don’t know a heck of a lot about information security, but I’d love to work with you sometime. I like your management style.

    I’ve already got my good “airspeed” question. Now all I need is nine more… :-)


  • kaulie
    April 2, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    well, the worst interview question i’ve ever had was ‘what’s your life motto?’. that one takes the cake in my experience

  • Matthew
    April 2, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    My least favourite question always has been and always will be the following:

    “Why should we hire you over any other candidate?” or some variant there of.

    It’s ridiculous.

  • James
    April 2, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    OK, I’m a Sr. Linux Admin. I’m good at my job (no arrogance just record) However about 3 years ago while interviewing I ran into a fool you started off by asking my “How are your differential equations?” I had to answer, “Back in College where I left them.”

    Sorry but the question was asked just so the interviewer could show off. Had nothing to do with the job, and about 6 months later the company lost it’s financing. Sei la gare.

  • Mike
    April 2, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    The worst is getting asked these questions for a part-time high school/college job.

    Where do I see myself in 5 years? NOT HERE!

  • sageword
    April 2, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    For good interview fodder, find something without a ‘right’ answer that lets you see them think on their feet: ask for responses to a graph, a recent emailed request, whatever. I stumbled onto this when a coworker (an agronomist) was struggling to plan for interviews he was conducting. Behind his head on the wall was a beautiful technical poster diagramming a canola plant’s parts — with french calligraphy for the notations. The poster was from a colleague of his in France. I said “see how they think: ask them to step up to that poster and start talking about their thoughts; just to see where they go.” The goal wasn’t to give a bonus to someone with knowledge of french, it was to see them take something completely unexpected and start mumbling about similarities with the latin or english words for plant anatomy, noting if they recognized a clue to the language, talking about the poster itself (litho vs. offset, the image’s beauty compared to industrial art in the US, or whatever), or talking about the question itself “Well, I’m not sure what you’re asking me for, but if you’re looking for a technical view (blah blah), if you mean from a linguistic stand point (bla blah), and if you’re just trying to see me think on my feet (bla blah bla).

    Oh, and ‘undead’ and ‘how much do you want to pay for this car’ are ROFLMAO gold.

  • April 2, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Worst interview question ever… Are those real?

  • David M
    April 2, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    WOW!!!! First off, these are all questions that I have heard as recently as yesterday. Thank you for this list, I am glad that I am not the only person who feels that some of the questions in an interview are useless.

    I do want to hear from others who have interviewing tips. I need all the help I can get so I can relocate to Boston and start my family. Thanks again!!

  • Alex
    April 2, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Last week I went to an interview where the guy asked me “What animal would you be if you could chose?”.. I should have said a camel, because they spit a lot.

  • absurdist
    April 2, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    “How does your creativity manifest itself?”


    My response, “In large red blotches on my neck and back, but since I started taking the drugs, the homicidal tendencies have been reduced drastically” got me the hairy eyeball from the department PHB while the two technical people were wetting themselves laughing.

    Surprisingly, I actually got offered the job…

  • Mike M
    April 2, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    The worst question I had was also the interview. It was for a systems operations position. I was taken to this dark office and told to sit down. The ‘interviewer’ pushed a sheet of paper with a list of tasks towards me and said ‘This is what you’ll be doing. Any questions?’

    I said ‘No’ and walked out.

  • sageword
    April 2, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    For me, a topic more interesting than the interview questions is how to gracefully jettison one’s hiring mistakes from a team. In IT and Information Security, seems like every team I get involved with has a few of Sam’s rockstars and a larger proportion of people ill-suited for the tasks at hand.

    I’m an attentive student of good managerial tactics, and so far I’ve never been in a situation to watch this aspect of personnel done well. And the lackluster hires are NOT akin to missed pitches in baseball — .300 may be good in baseball, but a good security geek brings light-years more to the table than a bad one, so refining the roster starts to seem worth in the high six or low seven figures per 10-15 member team. The problem I haven’t got a clue on is how to do this with grace and while preserving morale and dignity.

  • April 2, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I’ve had a couple of these Job interview questions before when looking for work.

    I think the worst job interview technique I ever saw was when I was asked to take a typing test (I dont know what it had to do with my particular position I was going for) and the actual test itself consisted of retyping a document you were given into word in 5 minutes, or as close as you could to doing it.

    …There were no interviewers monitoring this test

    Long story short, I found a copy of the document on the computer I was using, and opened it up in word… I cut out the last paragraph and a half and purposefully added 2 typing errors.

    … I was offered the job, but turned it down.

  • Doug
    April 3, 2008 at 12:03 am

    The actual question is, “What is the airspeed VELOCITY of an unladen swallow?” The missing word bothered me enough that I had to correct it. Am I a geek? Apparently. Or, if you really want to throw them in interview, you could ask something to the effect of: “We are no longer the Knights Who Say, ‘Ni!’ We are the now the Knights Who Say…” what?

  • Jason
    April 3, 2008 at 12:04 am

    I was once asked to show the interviewer my hands which he then grabbed and said “try to get away from me”. My first thought was to kick him in the nuts but he was an old man so I just pulled away from him and walked out.

  • Jesse
    April 3, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Our boss asks every interviewee this as his last question:

    Q: If you were going to design a spice rack for the blind, how would you go about it?

    Go figure…

  • Nick
    April 3, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Answer to Question 4:
    around 11 meters per second

  • Marion
    April 3, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Worst interview question (1981): “Are you planning on getting married and having children?”
    I said, “I’m not. But that isn’t your business, and this is an illegal question. THAT, you need to know.” (having instantly gotten clear that I would never want to work there)
    Second worst interview question (1995, interviewing before a group:) “Tell us what you don’t like about your current job.”
    I figured if they were going to ask me something that outre, I would tell them, and let the chips fall where they would. After all, a good critical mind was one of the qualifications for the job. In the second group interview a few hours later, I broke their software and blue-screened the system when invited to input a simple query. (It WAS simple–just not easy.) Having thus established nerd dominance I at least got a little satisfaction out of the deal, and was relieved to know I wouldn’t be working there. Even though most of them were nice folks, the corporate culture wasn’t up to my standards.

  • April 3, 2008 at 12:28 am

    What do you see yourself doing in five years?

    …Not working here!

  • Sysman
    April 3, 2008 at 12:33 am

    I was interviewing for a temporary sysadmin position in a new town for which I was overqualified. But I needed something quick due to a family situation.

    I was asked an irrelevant and rather sexist arithmetic brainteaser question about the rates at which men can paint houses vs. women.

    I followed the question with “Are the painters Gypsies?” I got the job.

  • zach
    April 3, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Ever killed a man with your bare hands?
    i love when they ask you what pay you think is fair

  • Fiona
    April 3, 2008 at 12:41 am

    if you were a fruit which one would you be?

  • Casey
    April 3, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I personally think that the “What are your salary requirements is a horrible question.” My answer is always, “I expect compensation reasonable to the market position.” How should I know how to calculate all the benefits and base and bonus? If I go too high they will overlook me and if I go too low they will take advantage of me.

  • April 3, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Nice. I think 7 questions are really asked by out HR!

  • April 3, 2008 at 1:28 am

    In answer to where you see yourself in 5 years time, use what they would say: “That depends on what happens between now and then.”
    Even better though, “Firing your ass for asking stupid questions during interviews for minion positions like this when the interviewee should be your boss, dumbass!”

  • Jay
    April 3, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Recently we have been adding positions like crazy, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve never asked any of these questions. While I can’t say I’ve interviewed thousands of people, I agree with Sam in the sentiment that you have to find someone who fits in with your team. You don’t need to ask a bunch of inane questions to figure that out. It doesn’t matter how smart, experienced, motivated someone is if they can’t mesh well with the company, their direct team, the clients they serve, etc.

  • April 3, 2008 at 1:41 am

    worst question ever:

    if you were in a performance review 5 years from now, what would your boss tell you needed improvement?

    what the fuck?! i rephrased it back to him:
    “do you mean, what am i going to fail at in 5 years? If I knew that now, I wouldn’t fail at it!” I turned down the job offer and the company went out of business not too much later.

  • Janeen
    April 3, 2008 at 2:07 am

    Once i was asked “who would win in a battle between a ninja and a pirate?”


    What ninjas and pirates have to do with the bedding department at macys, i haven’t the slightest idea.

  • April 3, 2008 at 2:21 am

    In our company, we have similar questions, but people are always trying to bi serious in their answers. It is not bad to answer a couple of questions in funny way. It can bring you some points.

  • Daniel
    April 3, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I actually have a friend (Female) that got the “Describe yourself in 3 words” question at a work interview for Outback Steakhouse. She basically snapped and with a serious face said ‘Young, Dumb and Full of Cum’

    Interview over!

  • jason
    April 3, 2008 at 3:04 am

    in 5 years.. with a beard. and for my tombstone, pepperoni and sausage.

  • jason
    April 3, 2008 at 3:04 am

    in 5 years.. with a beard. and for my tombstone, pepperoni and sausage.

  • Bobby
    April 3, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Oddest question I ever got was: “Why don’t you have any kids, are you gay?”
    I have been asked most of the questions on your list (except for the swallow one, never been interviewed by a MonthyPython fan).
    You have to remember that most HR people are idiots and that they are expected to fill out 30min with questions, of cause most of the questions will be silly.

  • Anonymous
    April 3, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Despite you seeming to mix up your icons there’s a few bits where I can’t tell whether you’re missing the point deliberately or for comic effect?

    #10 – What interests you about our company?

    Perhaps you could show genuine interest and knowledge about the ocmpany relating it to your goals and apsirations?

    #7 – Can you work under pressure?

    More likely “Give an example of when…”

    #1 – Where do you see yourself in five years?

    Again, knowledge of career path and insight into motivation of interviewee.

    All ACTAULLY pretty useful questions for the interviewer.

  • Carl Werner
    April 3, 2008 at 3:58 am

    At the physics/engineering questions above: The speed of light is constant, regardless of your reference frame. See special relativity. Conversely: If your car, traveling at the speed of light, pumps its brake lights, does the red light stay suspended, hanging out in free space with zero velocity when observed by the “stationary observer”? Definitely and resoundingly, no. Straight up addition doesn’t work in these situations

    Oh, and the compressibility of water is just about nil, so its density isn’t appreciably greater at the bottom of the trench. The pressures are enormous, however, but that has no bearing on the fact that your bowling ball will sink like a stone (or bowling ball, as it were), all the way to the bottom. Whether or not it collapses along the way is another matter.

  • April 3, 2008 at 4:25 am

    I don’t know about the worst, but the best interview question I was ever asked was “Do you like porn?” to which I said “Of course”. I got the job!

  • fletch
    April 3, 2008 at 4:35 am

    I was reading a lot of the responses to the above questions… As advice, I believe that its generally not good to make jokes or try to be cute when answering questions, seems to say that you don’t take the interviewer seriously. To me it would communicate: unprofessional. Although I’ve never given an interview.

    Why are manhole covers round?*

    I was asked this one, told that there was no real correct answer. It measures thought process probably more than intuition/trivia. Although there is a generally accepted best answer.

    *Answer below, in reverse
    “ni llaf tnod yeht taht os”


    What are the names of the two Mars rovers?

    Heard about this one, its a good industry specific interest level gauge. A different one could be made for many industries.

    spirit and opportunity

  • Random
    April 3, 2008 at 4:41 am

    A friend once was asked “What’s your least favorite color”, to which my friend answered promptly and quickly: “Black” while looking with a certain lunatic face.
    The interviewer was african-american.

  • Col
    April 3, 2008 at 4:41 am

    In the immortal words of Peter Griffin,

    Where do you see yourself in five years?

    “Doin’ your wife!”

  • April 3, 2008 at 4:52 am

    oh loved the weakness! #2
    the heading probably should have been
    top 10 job interview answers i guess!

  • Greg
    April 3, 2008 at 5:47 am

    I’ve always hated that “what’s your weakness” question. When I give interviews, sometimes I turn it around – I ask people to talk about their greatest triumph. The interviewees seem to like it because it’s a clear chance for them to demonstrate success. However, I work in a technical field, so sometimes people betray themselves by being proud of something brain-dead simple. It’s a dead give-away that the person is incompetent. I agree the “weakness” version of the question is always useless, but in the right scenario/field, this opposite version can be quite demonstrative IMO.

  • Dude
    April 3, 2008 at 5:49 am

    I think I’ve got a worse question.

    These questions were asked of me while being interviewed, and it was kind of shocking to hear them:
    “Have you ever told a lie before?”
    “Have you ever stolen something?”

    Don’t know if you consider them part of the worst, but I sure as hell do.

  • Dave
    April 3, 2008 at 6:00 am

    When the .com bust hit and I needed a job while I searched for a real job, I applied at target. Me being a 25 year old IT professional, I was completely devestated when I had to apply at Target. I got an interview with the security lead (Whom I might add was the most butch woman you have ever seen).During this interview I was asked, “What you would you do if you saw a friend of yours stealing from target?”. I replied, “If I saw on of my friends stealing from target, they wouldn’t be my friend”. She started to smrik, but held her composure. She marked out of 1 – 5, 5 being the best, 5 for my answer. It was so hard to not to laugh at her when she marked that down. Thank god I failed the drug test at the time. Screw checking recepits.

  • Erik
    April 3, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I was once asked, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Without missing a beat, I replied, “A decision tree, of course.” :)

  • kip
    April 3, 2008 at 6:30 am

    i told a interviewing viewing manager after he asked me where do i see myself in 5 years., i said well i hope not to be dead. he looked at me like wow are you kidding. i mean what the f, go screw yourself.

  • Sam Vimes
    April 3, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Asked “Where do you see yourself in five years?” in my last job interview I leaned forward, looked my boss-to-be in the eyes and told him “In your chair”.

  • Hans
    April 3, 2008 at 6:42 am

    where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    [looks at a family picture of manager]

    (don’t say doing your wife don’t say doing your wife don’t say doing your wife)……………doing your…. son?!

  • April 3, 2008 at 6:50 am

    My worst question ever came just last week! I was applying for the job of internet marketer for a newspaper and the question was, “So do you know everything about the internet then?” When I answered, “Not everything. Who could? It is too big.” She replied that, “Perhaps I wasn’t right for this then.”
    Thanks for playing…

  • Bunyip
    April 3, 2008 at 6:56 am

    How come #9 doesn’t score an “illegal” tag.

    And my inner spelling nazi wants to change “family issues will AFFECT your career planning” in #1

    Otherwise a good list and I’ve been asked lots of them at many interviews.

    #4 So is that a European swallow or an African swallow?

    And for #6 I would be “Lost” because I never watch the show, and for the shows I do watch – I rarely remember the characters’ names.

    #7 – work under pressure – well I’ve recently taken up scuba diving and I’m fine at 30 metres under (4x surface pressure) – but I think the PC would die.

    The more time in an interview we talk about stuff that’s completely unrelated to the job – the more I know I’ve got the job. One memorable interview – I think we spent a lot of time talking about Magpies – the birds not the football teams. And later they told me I got the job because they liked my legs.

  • April 3, 2008 at 7:05 am

    This is great 😉

  • Heston
    April 3, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Didnt microsoft have a question like “If you got the task of making a program that finds prime numbers. How would you do that?”

    I think thats a pretty impossible task/question to answer

  • Mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:39 am

    I was once asked what 25 * 86 is as the opening question from a PE firm. It took my a good 3 minutes just to figure out whether or not this guy was serious (he was). I guess in the highly complex world of global finance, multiplication problems seems to be a top priority. Needless to say I passed on the job.

  • April
    April 3, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Describe a time when you thought outside of the box.

  • Jonathan Yong
    April 3, 2008 at 8:28 am

    >What is your biggest weakness?

    “My intolerance of stupid questions”

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:35 am


    “For the Horde!” – classic. In fact, all your answers are top notch. I’m guessing you’re partner at some top HR consulting firm and ‘Gerald’ isn’t your real name. Superb!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:36 am


    That’s the spirit!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:38 am


    In that case, the proper response is “Why do you ask?”. Hopefully they’re not quick enough to respond “To find out.”


  • Chris
    April 3, 2008 at 8:42 am


    “I rephrase the question back to them like “What kind of compensation are you looking for?””

    Sorry, that would have me out of the door. I would assume that you were an amateur fishing.

    In addition, I only work for people who know how to use apostrophes.

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:46 am


    Now I know more about bowling balls than I ever thought I would.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:50 am


    I bow to you, sir! :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:51 am


    As you pointed out, that’s wrong on so many levels…


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:52 am


    I admire your directness, sir!


  • tim
    April 3, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I think you have your “I” and “H” icons switched. #2 is hackneyed, not illegal; #9 is illegal, not hackneyed.

  • John
    April 3, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I think the worst question is “why are you currently looking for a job”

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:54 am


    “Illegitmati non carborundum. Good day.”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:55 am


    “Did you already ask me the weakness question? I’ll just stand pat on that answer.”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:56 am


    You and your rapier wit! Nice.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Other Mike,

    Yes, asking any of these for a high school / part time job is ridiculous. For those kinds of jobs, the appropriate questions are: “Do you have a pulse”, “Are you carrying any weapons”, “How many fingers am I holding up”.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:00 am


    I also like to provide opportunities to let people think on their feet and explore problem spaces. That canola poster may be a potential side business if marketed right! :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:01 am


    We may have a new top answer to question #5!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:04 am


    Yesterday? Ouch. There are lots of great resources on the net, and I guess I’d better get cracking on that “best interview questions” post, huh?

    Best of luck on your job search!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:06 am


    Don’t forget the camel’s innate ability to find the oasis!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:07 am


    As Drew Carey would say “1000 points for absurdist”. Virtuouso work!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Mike M,

    I was really taken aback when you did that, but I learned from it. Thank you.


  • Sarah
    April 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

    The dumbest question I have ever been asked was, “What is the greatest obstacle you have ever overcome to getting to work on time?”
    “………..umm…a train??”

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:11 am


    I would recommend that you check out some of David Maister’s writings on managing professional services firms. The key is setting high peer group standards and then holding people to them. Not easy, but there are no easier alternatives.


  • joey
    April 3, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Not really a question but it happened right after the interview. It was for a youth supervisor and after the interview she said i had about an 80 percent chance of getting the job that made me feel good but i just thinking it was weird.

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Mark Lancaster,

    You did well, sir. That would not be a place I would want to be at either.


  • Mitch Conners
    April 3, 2008 at 9:13 am

    #10 is very useful. It has helped me determine countless times if the person was interested in having a new job or specifically having a job with my company. I have no interest in someone that is not specifically interested in the work.

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:13 am


    “We are now the knights who say…” now goes on the official list of questions to ask arrogant applicants!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:14 am


    That rates a (dis)honorable mention! Excellent response.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:15 am


    “First, I wouldn’t put it behind the stove…” To each his own.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:16 am


    Now there’s no point in asking the question. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to ask the “spice rack for the blind” question instead.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:18 am


    Breaking the company’s software definitely establishes you as the leader of the pack. :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:20 am


    Love your site. I’m with ya on that answer.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:21 am


    You’ve studied jujitsu, haven’t you? Well done!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:22 am


    “Have you ever killed a man with your bare hands?” See answer to question #10.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:23 am


    The answer outlined in #6 would work. I’ve read studies documenting the telepathic power of plants…


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:25 am


    I should probably do a post just on this question. Hmm, now that I think about it, thanks! (Your answer was good, but I’ll bet there are ways to improve on it).


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:26 am


    That’s about par for the course. :-O


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Bob Hoskins,

    I really like “that depends on what happens between now and then”. Technically correct and informational useless, just like the question.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:28 am


    Finding the right fit doesn’t take that many questions, for sure. Where did you say you work again?


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:30 am


    Good answer, and that question does seem like a good predictor of the future of the organization…


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:31 am


    Best. Comment. Punchline. Ever.

    Of course, the real answer would depend on whether the battle was taking place in a deserted dojo or on the high seas. 😉


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Mario D.

    It would seem from the comments that flippant answers sometimes work surprisingly well!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:34 am


    Certainly a showstopper, that one!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:34 am


    Double-barreled goodness! Thanks :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:37 am


    You missed an opportunity for an EEOC complaint on that one.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:39 am


    Some of these (as you pointed out), are off-the-mark variations of good questions. Why not ask them well, as you point out re: #7. I’ll address this more when I get to the top ten good interview questions, and thanks for making those points.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Carl Werner,

    Can you cite further material on the speed of light brake light thing? I’m fascinated.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:43 am


    I’m speechless.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:46 am


    One word: satire.

    Oh, and on the manhole cover thing, you forgot another key reason.

    And there are lots of industry-specific questions that would make no sense in any other context.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:47 am




  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:48 am


    Number one answer in the Digg and Reddit comments!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:49 am


    Thanks. See response to fletch above.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:50 am


    A much better approach; I agree completely. :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:54 am


    Those questions are only appropriate on the $10,000 round of “Moment of Truth”.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:56 am


    Flunking the drug test wins honorable mention on “in your face response” list.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:56 am


    You are my hero!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:57 am


    Way to change the mood in the room on a dime!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Same Vimes,

    Good one. Did you add the cackling like I mentioned? 😉


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 9:59 am


    #2 answer on Digg and Reddit comments!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 10:00 am


    She’d have been loads of fun to work with/for. You dodged a bullet, my friend!


  • Sean
    April 3, 2008 at 10:02 am

    How about for the “What would you like written on your tombstone?” question you reply “I plan on living forever, so far it’s working.”

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 10:04 am


    Re: #9 – operator error. #4 – yep. #6 – only ‘Lost’ character I know. #7 – NEW FAVORITE ANSWER!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 10:05 am


    Thanks, and come back often!


  • K. Johnson
    April 3, 2008 at 10:10 am

    “Tell me one thing that, if I knew it, would justify firing you.”

    Used to be a standard question at EDS.

  • kate
    April 3, 2008 at 10:15 am

    My least favorite question that’s been popping up lately is “How do you make yourself indispensable to a company?”

    Well, frankly I don’t WANT to be indispensable. I don’t want a job where I feel guilty if I ever take a vacation, get sick, go on maternity leave, or just try to find something better for myself. I’ll make myself more VALUABLE than my peers by doing a better job than they do. But indispensable? That’s too much pressure. I have a life.

    I’m begging all you interviewers to please ditch this asinine question.

  • April 3, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Q: Can you work under pressure?
    A: “I’ve been tested to 12 ft-lbs per square inch”

    FAIL. You don’t get the job for mixing up torque with pressure. BTW, average atmospheric pressure is about 14.5psi.

  • April 3, 2008 at 10:23 am


    I’d have to say I gave up fixing people a long time ago, but a powerful motivator in the consultant world seems to be money. I’ve had two misses at hiring that I will never understand as they came across as consummate professionals.
    A female MIT/Stanford graduate I hired as a manager injured one of our database administrators when she was letting them do Tequila shots out of her belly button and her belly-button ring got caught up in his tongue stud.
    The other wide miss was an senior engineer I hired and he showed up for day one of work in filthy urine soaked sweats and started hanging child porn on his cube walls while complaining about the effect of dropping LSD before work. They both interviewed well but only one got fired.
    One of the metrics for contracts I take (and an internal control for quality) is employee turn over rate (firing over hiring) over time. For contract work it should look like a nice elongated bell curve as the project ramps up, runs, and ramps back down. Dips or fluctuations indicate issues in management or hiring practices.
    As to keeping a good ratio hire the best, never take a contract you can’t complete, be picky, build a phone book of stars, and be willing to evaluate yourself as a possible problem as much as your employees. I’ve been lucky the last twenty years.

  • Jim
    April 3, 2008 at 11:15 am

    I once applied for job based on the absurd fact that A. I needed a job and, even more amazingly, B. I had the qualifications that were asked for in the advertisement for the job. When I went to the interview (for a job working with preschool age kids) the interviewer said to me that since I didn’t have a degree in Early Childhood Educ. – True, but that wasn’t the only degree that was listed in the ad that they would accept – why did I think that I was qualified for the job and why did I even bother to apply?

    I almost left right then but stuck it out until the end. See point A above for explanation. The best though was after I left the conference room and walked into the hall I saw the next interview victim waiting. He asked how the interview was and as I started to answer, the interviewer stuck her head out into the hall and demanded to know what I had just told the other guy and what we were talking about! Glad to say that I didn’t get a second interview!

  • Greg
    April 3, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Mike, did you really just spend an hour and a half answering every single response individually? Most journalists/bloggers/etc would be above that…

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 11:38 am


    They say that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. I think that would pretty well explain your run. Thanks for sharing.


    P.S. I hope you fired the senior engineer, and one should never allow physical contact of any kind between DBAs and other staff. 😉

  • carl
    April 3, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Mike: Like I said, see any book on special relativity. The speed of light in a vaccum is the same in all reference frames. Wikipedia’s a good place to start.

    And on the compressibility of water:

  • Weelbaro
    April 3, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I once had an interview for a software company in Florida where the hiring manager actually had the audacity to ask most of these questions in triplicate, ie, “Tell me three weaknesses about yourself.” It was all I could do to keep from cracking a smile in front of the panel (8 people) I was interviewing with. It floors me how many people just don’t have a clue.

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm


    Asked those questions repeatedly in front of a panel? Are you sure this wasn’t fraternity hazing disguised as interviewing?



  • Lou
    April 3, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    “What is your biggest weakness?”

    chocolate and sex: go for ’em every time

  • noru
    April 3, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    a friend of mine once answered #2 with the lyrics to sir Mixalot’s “Baby Got Back”.

  • LWH
    April 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    In an interview I was once asked… If you were a slice of cucumber in a salad and were about to be eaten, what would you say to the person about to eat you.

    My answer… Please don’t eat me. It was the wrong answer, I didn’t get the job. Thank god.

  • vannam
    April 3, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    #3: “oh, no. I don’t abuse what I love”
    #5: “under a pile of nuclear waste” or “sipping water from the last puddle on earth” or “Al Gore’s running mate for World Ruler”

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    General note: I apologize for the slow response to some comments. They show up in my inbox either very slowly or not at all.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:53 pm


    They probably do, and it’s not particularly interesting, but it does test algorithmic design skills. Of course, if you’re applying for a position in the cafeteria, it’s overkill.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Other Mike,

    I would have said: “Make it first to calculate 28 * 65 for a thousand bucks and you’re on!”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:56 pm


    ‘Describe a time when you thought outside of the box.’

    “I was standing in my playpen, plotting world domination…”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Jonathan Yong,

    ‘>What is your biggest weakness?
    “My intolerance of stupid questions”’

    Pay the man, Shirley!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 4:59 pm




  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:01 pm


    “What is the greatest obstacle you have ever overcome to getting to work on time?”

    Discontinuities in the space/time continuum. You can’t imagine what it was like arriving to work 5 days ago.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:03 pm


    ‘It was for a youth supervisor and after the interview she said i had about an 80 percent chance of getting the job’

    Weird, but better than being told you had an 80 percent chance of chronic unemployment. :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Mitch Conners,

    ‘#10 is very useful. It has helped me determine countless times if the person was interested in having a new job or specifically having a job with my company. I have no interest in someone that is not specifically interested in the work.’

    Then ask, ‘what interests you about this position’, not ‘what interests you about our company. Assuming they have something to say about the company is wrong.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:06 pm


    So far, so good. Honorable mention!


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    K Johnson,

    ‘“Tell me one thing that, if I knew it, would justify firing you.” Used to be a standard question at EDS.’

    And to think Ross Perot almost became president. Sends a chill down my spine.

    Of course “On company time, I will invent a terminator robot that will travel back from the future to brutally murder you in 30 seconds” might fit the bill. 😉


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:13 pm


    “How do you make yourself indispensable to a company?”

    Encrypt the SAP Master Data file with an undecipherable key known only to me. Is that what you really want?

    Your point is very well taken.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:18 pm


    You must have REALLY needed a job. I would have responded:

    “I simply said: Sneet glordon blackphon brownisnitz. Good day.”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:20 pm


    ‘Mike, did you really just spend an hour and a half answering every single response individually?’

    You all took the time to comment individually; how can I not do that?


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm


    All I can say is that The Principle of Invariant Light Speed is a killjoy to amateur theorists. Thanks for the links! :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Oh, and Carl, you’ll note that the name of my personal blog is Spooky Action. Einstein isn’t the sum of all physics knowledge.


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm


    I think the worst question is “why are you currently looking for a job”

    Because that little two-faced rat E.T. stole my Speak and Spell and called his own damned planet, that’s why!


  • Gripp
    April 3, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I had an engineering interview that was a two parter, the first guy, real good guy, decent – albiet work related – questions. the second one, his boss, wanted to know what kind of conditions I grew up in, what my mother and father did for a living, what kind of person I was in highschool (while interviewing for a job that requires a degree…)
    all of which might have been illegal – but that was in Florida, where companies are above the law when it comes to employees…

  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:07 pm


    You and 63% of the population. Not that there’s anything wrong with either! :-)


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:08 pm




  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:09 pm


    If you were a slice of cucumber in a salad and were about to be eaten, what would you say to the person about to eat you.

    “You’ll never guess what the kitchen staff used me for this morning…”


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:10 pm


    Dark, but fun! 😉


  • mike
    April 3, 2008 at 7:12 pm


    If this was Fark, your story would get both the Obvious and Florida tag! What fun.


  • Jo
    April 3, 2008 at 7:53 pm


    you need to stop talking now

  • RR
    April 3, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    I was once asked as part of a job “test” to write my own obit. This was for a national news producing job with a network.
    And I thought… Are you KIDDING me?

    I wrote something about being a suspected international arms dealer who died after having a heart attack during sex by the pool in my home in BoraBora with an underwear model 40 years my junior.

    They failed to see the humour in that. Apparently I was supposed to talk some brownnosing sycophantic “making our show #1!” and “Getting a Big Journalisticism Awardie Thing!”
    Etc. Etc.

  • Mark
    April 3, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    how do you celebrate birthdays? this is a viable question. according to this video, it can really determine workplace environment:

  • Nobody
    April 3, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    The best response I’ve heard to the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years” question was from comedian Paul Gilmartin I believe. His response was “God willing I’ll be laid up at home with some work-related injury.”

  • Chris
    April 3, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
    “In your chair, asking somebody else a stupid question”

  • lina
    April 4, 2008 at 2:08 am

    How about
    – why do you think you are the ideal candidate for this job
    – do you have any hoolidays booked?
    – one example how you handled a very awkward situation in your previous job (aaa… meaning there will be more awkward sits in here as well, ay?)

  • April 4, 2008 at 3:36 am

    lol, nice article. i love the generic questions :)

  • April 4, 2008 at 4:06 am

    The tombstone one is easy: “Hero of the Galactic Federation. He saved the Earth. A lot. 1968-2436”

  • bert
    April 4, 2008 at 5:17 am

    German managers an politician mention as there biggest weakness “impatience” (Ungeduld) which sounds like a weakness but is not really one for these people. Bert

  • TomB
    April 4, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Tombstone: “Unoccupied at this time.”
    Three Words: Humble. Magnificent. Conflicted.
    Tree: One in a protected national forest because I don’t like chainsaws.
    What would justify firing me if you knew it: If you knew how to run a company with no employees and make money.
    Have I killed a man with my bare hands: Trained to, but haven’t had the necessity. Let’s see how this interview goes.
    Transporter: Sure. I’d mess with it to try to get to the Mirror, Mirror universe though.
    Work Under Pressure: Maximum of 100′, duration determined by standard dive table.
    Biggest Weakness: Damaged left shoulder.
    Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years: Difficult to predict, the future is. Always in motion.
    Bowling Ball in the Ocean: Wouldn’t matter. I’m not going to be getting it back. Better to spend the time shopping for a new one.
    Weakness As A Tree: I take double damage from fire and axes and have a crappy movement rate.
    Airspeed Velocity of Sparrow: Roughly 48K km/s. (Mean Earth Orbital Velocity)
    Change A Law: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Why? Entropy sucks.
    Tardis: Tom Baker.
    Internet: Me and I patented it. Do you have your monthly licensing fee cheque pepared?
    Softball: Captain – because without someone to do the organization, things don’t happen.
    Why should we hire you over any other candidate?: Kickbacks? Longevity? So you can go home early?
    Animal: A cat. How cool is having 9 lives?
    Spice rack for the blind: First, I’d find Victoria Beckham or Jeri Halliwell…
    Fruit: Tomato. It’s the stealth ninja of fruit.
    Ninjas vs. Pirates: Ninjas – obedience, self-discipline, and a willingness to die for secrets and mission. Pirate – treasure, ale and whores. You do the math.
    Have you ever told a lie before: I always lie. (classic!)

    Some great responses from others which I shall keep in mind for later use!

    Tricky Questions I’ve been asked:

    Do you like Beer? ….

    What would you use a pointer to a pointer for? ….

  • Stacy
    April 4, 2008 at 6:55 am

    I’m confused. How are the questions: “Where do you see yourself in five years” and “What is your biggest weakness?” illegal questions? Those are more hackneyed because everyone has a standard answer to those. Illegal questions are more like “are you married?” “do you plan on starting a family soon?”

  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:20 am


    “Getting a Big Journalisticism Awardie Thing!”

    What else would you expect from the suits?


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:27 am


    I’m toast. Thanks for the warning.


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:29 am

    Nobody (or most frequent commenter),

    “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”

    “God willing I’ll be laid up at home with some work-related injury.”

    That’s what separates the pros from the joes.


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:30 am


    Not bad if you really want the job.


  • Jimmy
    April 4, 2008 at 8:30 am

    After they found out about my veterans status they asked,
    “Did you ever kill anybody?”
    My answer…”only my captain.”
    I did not get the job.

  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:35 am


    Good ones! “one example how you handled a very awkward situation in your previous job (aaa… meaning there will be more awkward sits in here as well, ay?)” – During my first interview I was asked to define sexual harrassment. I said “come closer and I’ll show you” and he did…


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:36 am


    Glad you enjoyed it. Where will the Yanks end up this year?


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:37 am


    “Hero of the Galactic Federation. He saved the Earth. A lot. 1968-2436″

    Thank you for your service.


  • JD
    April 4, 2008 at 8:38 am

    One of my favorite questions to ask is:

    “Are these the droids you’re looking for?” To get all the bonus points the answer has to include the hand gesture.

  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:44 am


    “Ungeduld” – I’m using that in my next English-language interview.


  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 8:47 am


    ROTFLMAO. Holy Crap! That comment made MY week! It would be unfair to cite one or two, because they’re all priceless. :-)

    As for the tricky questions:

    Do you like Beer? Yes, but not in the way you’re thinking.

    What would you use a pointer to a pointer for? Dog obedience training.


  • doug Krebs
    April 4, 2008 at 9:42 am

    worst question I’ve fielded is “What color is your brain?” I replied shiny gold because it’s valuable and in high demand.

  • mike
    April 4, 2008 at 10:07 am

    doug Krebs,

    Useless question, awesome response!


  • April 4, 2008 at 11:08 am

    My personal favorite was to ask “Which one are you, a circle, square, triangle or squiggly lines? Why?” but I’d only do that if I was pretty the interviewee had a good sense of humor and I was going to recommend them for the position. But this list got me laughing out loud twice! Thanks!

  • April 4, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I was back to a place for a THIRD interview, this time in a big room with seemingly everyone that worked at the place. I’m sitting at the head end of a long conference table surrounded by people with that look on their face that says “I hate doing this. I don’t know why they make us do this”.

    After a couple of stupid questions which I basically joked off, I looked at the other end of the table and this guy had fallen asleep. Deep sleep. His mouth was open, he was snoring, and he was drooling on himself. I am not making this up. When I noticed it I must’ve not completely covered my reaction. The guy from HR ended the meeting abruptly. I never heard back from them.

    To this day I wish I had done what I thought of doing. I wanted to say “does that happen a lot?” Ah well.

  • septer
    April 4, 2008 at 11:35 am

    God, the five years question really bugs me. I don’t think it is a bad question, but it IS sooo hackneyed! And I for one don’t have a real plan that would bring any picture in my head as hard as I may try to see! But I AM prepared to answer the question in a way that will show me still working for the company!

    I have a friend who was once meeting someone she had met online, in person for the first time…and over lunch he asks her ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’!!!

  • April 4, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    “Who owns the Tardis? Usual response “Huh?””

    CORRECT (and truly geeky) ANSWER: ‘Which one?’

  • Jay
    April 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    While interview to teach elementary school – “How do you feel working in a position normally occupied by women?”


    “If you were to plant a garden would you plant flowers or vegetables?”

  • Millie
    April 4, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Actual question for a receptionist position at an insurance agency: What is the definition of the word boar, b-o-a-r?
    What????????? I should have run screaming at that point. Imagine my surprise when not one person, in my year of enduring this job, called to file a claim for damage done to (or by) their wild uncastrated hog. Talk about your completely useless questions.

  • Tommy
    April 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I used to ask, “What’s 12 times 12?” It was just to throw them off and see if they could think on thier feet. A lot of our job was thinking on our feet. You wouldn’t believe how many people couldn’t answer it, or how long it took them. Degreed candidates, believe it or not.

  • heather
    April 4, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    The manager of a pizza chain asked me what my greatest disappointment was, either in someone else or in myself. I had NO clue how to answer this. Either i rat on someone else and sound like a complainer, or rat myself out and try to sound humble and apologetic. I chose the latter and got the job, but that question still confuses me.

  • howard
    April 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    For #1 I would have gone with “Doing your wife”

  • Angie
    April 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    I have been asked ALL of those questions pretty much every interview I’ve been on. How unfortunate. Of course I’m a college student so the jobs I’ve been interviewed for weren’t super professional ones.

  • Sadie
    April 7, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Worst Interview Question I Was Ever Asked:

    “If we came to your home right now and opened your silverware drawer, what would we find?”

    um… Silverware?

  • April 8, 2008 at 7:50 am


    My mistake. I would have fixed it but WordPress doesn’t want me to.


  • April 8, 2008 at 7:54 am


    You may want to rethink that “only my captain” answer in the future…


  • April 8, 2008 at 7:55 am


    I’m not certain, but I think there’s a twelve-step program for that. 😉


  • April 8, 2008 at 7:56 am


    Good one, but you’re right about judging the interviewee on that question.


    Squiggly Line

  • April 8, 2008 at 7:59 am


    You dodged a bullet on that one. Third interview and they blew you off? Sad.


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:01 am


    “Standing over you with a riding crop.”


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Matthew James Didier,

    I’ll keep “which one” in mind during my next interview.


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:06 am


    Re: teacher position – “Every position I’ve ever held has been occupied by a man.”


    “Who says I have to choose?”


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:08 am


    Honorable mention for that one. Yikes! 😉


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:09 am


    That’s legit. 144, off the top of my head.


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:11 am


    Yes, that’s one of those “no win” questions that shouldn’t be asked. You chose wisely.


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:14 am


    We took a survey of Digg commenters on how they would answer this question. The top five answers are up on that board. You said “doing your wife”. Let’s see if it’s up there. Survey says:


    Number one answer!


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:15 am


    Hang in there. Things will get better. :-)


  • April 8, 2008 at 8:16 am




  • April 8, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I would say “Doing your son.” (Peter Griffin)

  • Ryan
    April 9, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Why is a manhole cover round? Obviously because the manhole is round.

  • April 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm


    Second most popular answer in Digg comments.


  • April 9, 2008 at 5:06 pm


    That fulfills the requirements for your Masters in Obvious. Congratulations! 😉


  • April 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    And I thoroughly enjoy saying it. Again and again. Thanks!

  • wilbur
    April 12, 2008 at 4:15 am

    42 is the correct speed of the swallow, but you add ‘You’ll have to work out the units’.

  • mike
    April 14, 2008 at 8:08 am


    Good one!


  • Angelia
    April 20, 2008 at 10:42 am

    The worst interview question that I ever had was, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”…I let the interviewer know in a nice way that I was already grown up with a BSN and this was not the company in which I wanted to give my hard earned talents too.

  • Steve
    April 28, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    “If you could only have one item with you on a desert isle, what would it be?” My answer: chocolate-covered manhole cover. The interviewer didn’t have a response to that one, and completely flubbed the next question on the list. (No, I didn’t get the job but had lost interest in it at that point.)

  • Julie
    April 28, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    I’d like to hear this question, “Why are you taking your clothes off, miss”?

  • David Byrden
    April 29, 2008 at 6:54 am

    The headlights question has a simple answer; you can’t get a car, or any other material object, to travel at the speed of light. Trick question.
    Suppose it was just *close*; then it depends on whose point of view you take. Trick question. The guy in the car notices nothing unusual.

    “Why did you take the pen from me”: write your answer on a piece of paper. Hold it halfway between you and the interviewer. It should say “Why did you take the paper from me?”

  • Sue
    April 30, 2008 at 4:26 am

    “Have you ever told a lie before?”
    “Have you ever stolen something?”

    I would find those insulting, but my answers would be:

    “only in this interview”
    “I’m about to steal your job”

    worst one ever asked of me?
    “Are you, or have you ever been, a member of a terorist organisation?”

    Guess you know the answer to that one!

  • April 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Having working in sales for many years, I remember one interview where I was handed a old chewed ballpoint pen by a grumpy sales manager and instructed to demonstrate how I would sell it to him. Been both young and innocent at the time I made my best attempt to which he objected on the grounds that the pen was the wrong colour.

  • tartanrocker
    May 2, 2008 at 5:04 am

    To get a crappy filing position, I was actually asked to take a urine test to see if I was pregnant….?!?!?…..I told them that I wasn’t married, and they said that didn’t matter… which I replied “It matters to me!!!”……gawd….I quit after 3 days, and got 2 weeks pay…..

  • Susan Haug
    May 2, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I just had the most pleasant time reading the list and most of all the responses! LOL & Ickyickyickyptangneezooowwwwiie!

    I’m an illustrator. The stupidest question I was ever asked: “as an Atheist are you going to have any problem drawing angels?” WHOA! Highly illegal of course, but what chapped my ass was that the interviewer assumed I was an Atheist based designs of some designs for a Freethinking/Atheist Convention in my portfolio. If he had possessed the capacity for rational thought he would have included Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, flying reindeer and Elves in the list of things that “atheists have problems drawing”. What a moron.

  • July 16, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    What is your greatest weakness? A: I’m a workaholic
    Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
    A: At my second home clipping coupon bonds.
    Q: What are your salary requirements?
    A: What is your budget for this position (Everything in life is negotiable) It’s a “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” question.
    Q: How much have you stolen from a company>?
    A: I resent the implication that I steal.
    Q: What bird would you be?
    A: doublebreasted searsucker.

    Remember, the HR person is NOT your friend.

    But pretend that they are and suck information from them that can be used as ammunition later.

  • Steve
    July 17, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    #3 – Do you ever abuse alcohol or drugs?

    – Only in moderation.

    #6 – If you were a ‘Lost’ character, which one would you be?

    – If I were a character on ‘Lost’ they would have to call it ‘Found.’

    Have you ever stolen from a company?

    – No, but can you ask me again in 5 five years?

  • Steve
    July 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    What would you want to see on your tombstone?
    – “Hey! Where did he go?”
    Have you ever told a lie?
    – Yes. In fact that’s a lie right there!

  • Craig
    July 28, 2008 at 9:00 am

    “Have you ever told a lie?”

    Yes, in fact I’m lying to you as I speak.

    (then sit back and watch the smoke pour from their ears as they try to process that)

  • July 31, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    My favorite question I have ever been asked in a job interview is “How diverse are you?”

    I’m still not entirely sure what it means.

  • August 13, 2008 at 11:38 am

    My favorite two answers to the 5-year question are:

    On a tropical beach drinking margaritas. And…

    Due to the advancing nature of my profession (computers), I find it difficult to even forecast two years in advance.

  • Cyrus Ramsay
    August 23, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Resubmitting this ‘cos I mistyped my e-mail address:

    The question I always dreaded was, “Don’t you think your over-qualified for this job?” In a sense it’s flattering but the questioner usually has one of two motives for asking it.

    Firstly, they were concerned that I was only looking for a temporary job until I found something better.

    Secondly, they were concerned that I might be a threat to their job!

    Who knows, they may have been right on both counts…

  • Derrin
    September 4, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Weirdest and most personal question I ever had was “Do you have any weird sexual habits we should know of?” First off, it WAS legal to ask this, and relevant given the job was a gov’t national security job, and it was the 80’s when it was asked. My mental reaction (unvoiced of course) was “Wow, you can make it a habit?” My voiced reaction was a flat “No.”

  • September 5, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I was once asked “If you could be with any cartoon character of the opposite sex, who would it be?” That question really skeeved me out – but the good news is that the interviewer and I both agreed on Princess Jasmine. I got an offer.

  • September 8, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Wow that was incredibly funny.

    Practice some of these boring questions for your next interview, it helps

  • September 18, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Hahaha.. These are great! I’m gonna memorize both the questions and answers.

  • marie
    November 2, 2008 at 10:49 am

    how wud u sell an ice to an iceman?

  • November 3, 2008 at 12:59 am

    great post. during an interview, i once asked the applicant about his weaknesses and strengths but I didn’t know it’s one of the worst interview questions. Thanks to this! :)

  • Allison
    November 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    What are your top 5 strengths and 5 weaknesses

  • Rob Lindsay
    November 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    An interviewer once handed me a copy of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Fog” (i.e. “Fog coming in on little cat’s feet”) and asked for my reaction to it.

    Since I live in Seattle, which is occasionally foggy, I asked, “Are you asking me if I get depressed and can’t work on foggy days? The answer is no.”

    They didn’t hire me because, they said, I didn’t have experience writing software installation procedures. However, I DID have experience writing software installation procedures. They didn’t ask me about this during the interview, but it was listed on my resume, which they apparently didn’t bother to read.

  • November 27, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Once one person asked me that why should I take you in my company what specialities you have? I said I am good in my work for which you want to take me in. And the stupid man replied that do you think others are not good?

  • Shane
    December 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I have a question that I like to ask my applicants and I am looking for any answer under 10 yet you would not believe how many people will answer crazy stuff. The question is how may days a year do you feel it is appropriate to call in sick to work.
    A few years back I was working for a food service est. and I was told by a girl 50 or so, at this I almost lost it. So I asked her why 50 she said “well once a week or so” At that point I called in two more managers to the interview and we spent two hours wasting her time before we told her that we decided back at the missed day question not to hire her. Looking back my question to her is how long would you sit in a interview for $3.00/hr plus crappy tips

  • Annette
    December 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm


  • Jay
    December 10, 2008 at 10:34 am

    This question was asked to my cousin.

    “have you seen a black rose”.

    Also the panel just sat there midway through the interview talking to each other, just gossiping, pretending as if he didnt even exist there

    December 11, 2008 at 8:02 am

    I have always thought that an interview question I received in Greece really won the prize: “I assume that you are too old to have children but can you just confirm that for me?”

    What an idiot!!

  • December 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Absolutely excellent list ! More seriously, if you want to prepare yourself for a job interview, one of the best way is to read a book made for the recruiter, like 45 effective ways for Hiring Smart 😉

  • December 19, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    I want someone to hold out a pen for me…. I’d take it, Look at it curiously, and hand it back. Then I’d ask them why they gave it to me and then took it back…..


  • cyberyak
    December 23, 2008 at 12:04 am

    After interviewing over the phone, flying in to meet with the Tech Support team, and interviewing with the Tech Support Manager, I was taken into a conference room for the final interview. This consisted of sitting at a long conference room table with the President, the VP, one of the partners, the Tech Support Manager, and a few others including the accountant.
    After several “what do you know?” questions, someone mentioned that I would be responsible for installing software and working with servers on the networks of multi-million (billion) dollar corporations and asked if this would bother me.
    My response, “No. I can crash someone elses network as easily as my own.”
    The Pres was speechless. The VP just looked around the room at everyone else. The Tech Support Manager smirked and the partner smiled.
    Afterwards, they took me out for a late lunch with drinks and I enjoyed a fairly expensive meal (not the most expensive thing on the menu) and a large margarita.
    I got the job and they paid me to relocate.

  • January 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Gad. tears rolling down my cheeks

    You have been Blogged and Tweeted.

    Fucking hilarious!

  • Teresa
    January 12, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I was asked the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. I HATE this question – what prospective new hire knows about the internals of a company they don’t work at yet? But I digress… I was asked this question by the Director of Personnel at my first straight-from-college job. My response was “Well, your job looks pretty good!”

    I ended up working there for four and half years, then left for other reasons.

  • Greek
    January 15, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Sometimes it’s a matter of how many times question is asked. On one interview the manager and the head technical person AND the HR person(3) all asked me if I minded working overtime. Seeing very quickly that this place was your typical brokerage sweatshop I replied to the HR person “I will you whatever it takes to get a project finished.” She smiled. I followed up with “However, if you want somebody who’s going to work 70 hours a week for the next 5 years straight you should look elsewhere.” The HR person was rather startled.

  • January 19, 2009 at 7:31 am

    When applying for an actuarial position in Portland, OR I was asked “We have people of different races working here. As a Jew, would you have problems getting along with people of other ethnic backgrounds?” I said no, and pointed out that I had grown up in New York City. I got the job, but it was as miserable a place to work as you would expect from that question.

  • Garry
    January 20, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I am retired now but still remember a day spent interviewing at IBM in the mid-60’s. At the conclusion of a long day, the HR guy asked the “Do you want to ask us anything?” question. I sure did. I asked him questions about the company’s then-notorious lifestyle expectations of its employees–where they lived, what they drove, with whom they associated. He bcame increasingly agitated. Then I asked about a draft deferment–Vietnam was escalating. He said the company could obtain a deferment for the first year. “What then?” I asked. He blathered about evaluating my performance in consideration of national security requirements! I said “So let me get this straight–if I am considered a hotshot, I stay. If not, I get to carry a rifle.” He became really agitated: “Don’t you think you owe something to your country?” I could just hear the soundtrack coming up. I said “Yes, I owe my country a long career of hard work and accomplishment, which does not include getting killed in a useless war.” We both then agreed that there was not a match. I drove off in my “wrong” car to my “wrong” neighborhood and “wrong” friends. I did have a pretty good career, nonetheless.

  • Michelle
    January 20, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I had a co-worker ask a young lady what song best described her life. What an idiot!

  • Tom
    January 23, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    The worst question I ever had was on a survey somewhere before the interview in the process.
    “Have you ever lied to your parents?”

  • February 24, 2009 at 9:21 am

    It’s not really a strange question, but one that I’ve never been asked in any other interview, which was, “What was the last book you read?”

    I knew there was some psychological motive behind that question. I really wanted to say ‘Christina Aguilera: A Star is Made’ but retracted. Instead I spouted a book about the Titanic.

    I now regret making such a hasty choice. For all I knew, he could have been a Christina Aguilera fan!

  • Randall
    February 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Scout’s honor and all that, here are a few true interview questions I’ve been asked by cement-head HR types:

    “Star Trek or Star Wars. Which is better and why?”

    “If you could be a vegetable, which vegetable would you be and why?”

    “Describe yourself in one word.”

    “Tell me about yourself. You have five seconds. Go.”

    And numbskulled HR folks actually decide upon who to hire and who to reject based on garbage questions like this!

  • March 2, 2009 at 2:37 am

    My friend got this question
    –> How do you guarantee that you will not “jump ship” to other companies like what fresh grads always do?

    My thought, how can we guarantee them when they cant even guarantee us if they themself will be with the company after a few years

  • Androgyn
    March 3, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Smart-alecky answers:

    Can you work under pressure?
    My design pressure is 14.7 lbs/ft. I do not know how rigorous the quality control process is.

    If you were a “lost” character, which one would you be?
    I would be Beatrice from Dante’s Il Divina Commedia.

    How do you define sexual harassment?
    I’d like to speak to my lawyer.

    What is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?
    African or European?

    Do you ever abuse alcohol or drugs?
    Only verbally.

    What is your biggest weakness?
    I spend too much time at work.

    Bad questions:
    What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
    Pay about 75 cents.

    How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
    [I had no answer for this.]

    If you had three wishes, what would they be?
    The ability to not make choices with bad consequences, world peace, and the ability to grant unlimited wishes with the qualifer that they be beneficial to humanity and not have any bad consequences whatsoever.
    [the interviewer didn’t like the qualifer and I didn’t get it.]

    If you had a superpower, what would it be?
    The ability to grant an unlimited number of wishes with a passive caveat that it always be used for good and that there not be any bad consequences, whether or not they were unintended.
    [interviewer didn’t like this. “The ability to flicker on-and-off X-ray vision with a time-period of milliseconds and the ability to retain and interpret the results would be useful. They liked that one better. I’m medical.]

    “Tell me about a time you thought outside the box.”
    “Growing up, my mother greatly enjoyed Jack-in-the-Box food. Naturally, I liked it too.”
    [This only works if you look like you’re clearly telling a joke while you’re doing it, and then follow it up with “Of course, in the more classical sense, my answer to this question…”

    If you could take one thing with you to a desert island, what would you take?
    “I would take a boat with a GPS locator, fully stocked with enough food, water, and negotiable currency to get to the nearest populated landmass.”

  • Lara
    March 4, 2009 at 5:04 am

    I disagree with #2 and #10 being bad interview questions… Why?

    All our staff are students, and the vast majority of them have never been for an interview, and have never considered their answers to these questions. When interviewing a more experienced potential staff member, I might not ask them. But as far as I am concerned, the idea that someone has taken the time to get to know my company indicates that they have taken an interest. I once received an application for a job that was so obviously ill considered, it was still addressed to a previous company and contained utterly irrelevant information. Preparation is not a bad thing, and we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it.

  • March 12, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Out of the 1-10, I find 1 to be intriguing, purely due to the contemporary circumstances.

    #1 – Where do you see yourself in five years?

    ”If one takes to the air with vultures, one ends up being a scavenger; if one soars with eagles, one attains towering heights. I earnestly believe that my future will be dictated by the kind of company I work for, and flock I will swim with. I will acquire color of my herd, if my herd is fighting fit; I have the innate potential to extract the best out of the circumstances I am put in.”

    On a lighter note for 10 if it was a financial institution, I will lightly rub the slat on the wounds.

    #10 – What interests you about our company?
    Your illiquidity!!

  • Simon
    March 14, 2009 at 10:14 am

    The comments relating to each question were pure comic genius. Best blog post I’ve read all week.

  • shiane
    March 15, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Being a woman of size the question I was actually asked was,
    “THis job involves greeting the clients and showing them to the proper agent and constantly getting up and down from your desk to the files and walking around the office. Do you think you could do that? Also, if the phone rings you must literally run to answer it, can you do that?”

  • KC
    March 24, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Worst question?
    During a phone interview for a position in southern California:

    “I see you went to (university)… Is that the one with all the riots?”

    I was speechless for about 2 minutes before I made some crack about Oakland and hung up.

  • March 27, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Great stuff. Its would be nice if someone that knows what the person will be doing and better still has done the job before conducts the interviews. The silly questions would not be asked as often.

  • March 31, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Now that is funny….all of those are all too common but your response to the weakness question made the post for me. I do a great deal of interviews and have found myself asking that question at times and it offers no valuable feedback. I wonder at times simply what people will say.

    I am new to this blog, but certainly not the last. Great stuff.

  • Evelyn
    April 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Two of the worst things I’ve been asked:

    Are you intimidated by men?

    Would you mind cleaning here as well, you know, women’s work?

  • jack
    April 29, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Worst ones I’ve received:
    1) “We all try to put our best foot forward, but tell me a time when you were so embarassed you wanted to sink through the floor”
    2) “How would your enemy describe you?”
    3) “Think about someone who doesn’t like you and tell me what they would say your worst quality is”

  • May 8, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Great post but I have a bad feeling if I hear these in an interview again Im going to have to try really hard not to laugh or give the sarcastic answers!

  • whoknew
    May 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    I had an interviewer ask me “Do you have children?” [illegal question there].

    I responded with, “Why? Is it a job requirement?” for an engineering position

  • Dan
    May 15, 2009 at 10:06 am

    This was SUCH an amazing read.

    As a university software engineering student, I was interviewing for internship positions last year (of which I am working at one now).

    I had an interview with IBM, and the interviewer was the manager of the department I was working in (this is for IBM in Toronto).

    I knew within seconds of answering the phone for the interview that the job wasn’t for me. Not because of stupid or irrelevant questions. The manager barely spoke English! His Chinese accent (I am half Chinese and can usually comprehend) was so thick I’m pretty sure he was reading from phonetic cue cards.

    After the 2nd question I told him that if they really wanted to interview me, they could have an English-speaking HR person call me and I hung up.

  • kc
    May 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Worst / Best question I have ever been asked in an interview:

    “Where does your current Boss think you are right now?”

  • ec
    June 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    i’m amazed that so many of those commenting are claiming to have heard these questions in interviews — there are people actually getting interviews?!

  • June 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    “I’m a people person, very personable. I absolutely insist on enjoying life. Not so task-oriented. Not a work horse. If you’re looking for a Clydesdale I’m probably not your man. Like I don’t live to work, it’s more the other way around. I work to live. Incidentally, what’s your policy on Columbus Day?”

    You, Me and Dupree (2006)

  • July 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    These are very irrelevant questions.

  • July 12, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Useful post… I just got many idea. I am looking for SAP Job and hope got one soon. I just came across your site and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed.Regards

  • Audrey
    July 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    An overweight applicant was asked by an interview committee memeber (who was also overweight) she had any medical condition that would cause her to call in absent. I so wanted to explain how illegal that question was…

  • Julie
    July 21, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I interviewed with a non-profit organization last summer. It was a freak show! The interview process was three-steps. First, everyone was in a group and we did team-building exercises and answered questions like “what is your favorite movie and why” and we had to talk for 30 seconds and stop immediately when they called time. The third round I had to do a presentation on their company to a board of five individuals. They asked me questions from “What services do you offer?” to “What is our founder’s birthday?”

  • JM
    August 2, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    In response to “where do you see yourself in 5 years” I would go with “I’m not sure but I see myself doing your job in about 3 months”

  • Alby
    August 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    To the question: What would you like to see on your tombstone when you die? I would answer “A lot of stones.” When I got a strange look, I would explain that in my religion people leave stones on top of tombstones when they visit so it would show I was a popular guy. Then, I’d say: “Or do you mean what would you like the epitaph on your tombstone to read?” Obviously that would piss off the interviewer but after that question, who the hell would want to work there anyway?

  • August 22, 2009 at 1:29 am

    Worst interview questions
    Describe yourself in three words. Now if that wasn’t bad enough. Describe the four other people who just interviewed you in three words.

    Competence and cultural fit are the two biggest hurdles to pass in finding good people for the job. Do they have the capability to do it and will they fit in the team to get it done.

    Very glad I became a business owner so I don’t have to answer those questions any more 😉

  • August 24, 2009 at 9:26 am

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  • tiana
    September 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    “African or European?” is the Monty Python answer.

    The REAL answer, technically, is “Faster than an unladen one”.

  • Bruce
    September 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Worst question E V E R:

    ‘Who is [insert your name here]’

    Um, me?

  • ross
    September 16, 2009 at 2:37 am

    i got asked in my last interview if you could have a superpower what would it be?
    i said wolverine claws because they look cool

  • Charles
    September 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    What makes this riotously funny is all the job hunting sites that offer *serious* suggestions on how to respond.

  • evan
    September 22, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Well I sometimes do interviews and do you beleive that asking such questions ‘do you work under pressure?’ you sometimes receive an answer No! or ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ they answer sometimes totally different from the job! Or others ‘What is your biggest weakness?’: you find those who say i’m perfect and others who defined themselves as disasters! So while for normal people these questions are useless, it certainly clears lots of candidates who are themselves useless

  • Russell
    September 22, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I was hired after an interview and what nailed it down was the “What is your biggest weakness” question. My answer was “I’m lazy”. With that the 2 interviewers started chuckling, and replied “we heard that from the person that recommended you. They said you would rather memorize the book than have to look up something twice.” HIRED!

  • KP
    September 22, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Interestingly, some of these were the questions HR depts used to provide to new managers many years ago as guidance for conducting an interview. I’ve used them because HR suggested they were good questions. It’s good times and opinions have changed.

  • Jim Lyons
    September 22, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I once asked an applicant why he wanted to leave a job he had just started 2 months ago. He Replied “One of the managers is a real a**hole, and the other one is overbearing”. I said “It’s just like that here!”, and he just stared at me dumbfounded. I just smiled and said, “I’m the overbearing One”.

  • AI
    September 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Do you work well under pressure?

    Well, I spent 4 years sleeping and working on a submarine hundreds of feet below the surface of the water, never surfacing for months at a time, carrying 16 thermonuclear warhead-tipped missiles. But maybe I don’t know the true meaning of pressure…working 9 – 5, 5 whole days a week in this office.

  • Garst
    September 25, 2009 at 12:05 am

    I have a good one for #1:

    If you want to believe my former psychic, I’ll be 6-feet under. He’s saying I’m going to be choked by an octopus on June 13, 2014. That is, unless I find a way to have myself reanimated. Then I see myself gaining knowledge by eating brains. Personally, I doubt he’s right about the date; he also claims that the world is going to be destroyed on December 21, 2012. How can I die after the world is destoyed? A year and a half is a long time to live without food, water, or air. I’m hoping if the world ends in three years, I die with it.

  • LB
    September 26, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    A female friend was once asked “what form of birth control do you use?”…..She answered…”What kind do you recommend??”

  • November 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

    My husband had an interview a few days ago with a guy much younger than him. (Granted, my hubby ISN’T old… 45… but the guy was in his 20’s). This was for a help desk (level 1) job at an insurance company (and well below my husband’s skill set – he was initially told he was going in for a network/tech level 3). Any interview he’s had with young guys seem to see him as a threat or they’re intimidated by him. (A few have admitted it).

    Anyway – he had two really strange questions asked…

    First: “Do you see yourself as a Pirate or a Ninja?” My husband figured it was a really wierd question (strangest he’s ever had yet), but thought it out loud and said, (in his viewpoint), “well a ninja is methodical and by the book, strict… a pirate is a “tackle it now and deal with the consequences later”… so I’d say I’m a pirate – if a system is down, I’ll do whatever it takes to get it back up and running quickly, then deal with the ‘consequences’ later.

    Second question (yes, same interview) – “what’s your theme song”? The guy proceeded to say, “for example, if he hadn’t had his coffee yet, he walks around humming the death march from Star Wars. So what’s yours?”

    My hubby replied, “Highway to hell.”


    Needless to say, he didn’t get the job – actually the guy claimed that the interview didn’t go well at all, (to an agency), said he didn’t answer the questions and give enough info. The agency thought it was stupid because an exact replica of his answers on a previous job interview GOT him the job… but it keeps being put off (hence why he went to this one).

    Oh the joys of interviews. Thanks for this list – we needed this laugh!

  • Martin
    December 4, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Q: “so why do you want to work in chemical development?”
    A: “I don’t – isn’t the vacancy for a position in medicinal chemistry?”

  • KW
    December 4, 2009 at 9:40 am

    During a phone interview the HR person asked me “What are you doing right now?”
    Uhm-talking to you.

  • Kendall I
    December 4, 2009 at 10:28 am

    On a recent interview I was asked “Do you ride a Harley?” I broke out into a verse of “Born To Be Wild”. I didn’t get the job thank God.

  • Zach Khan
    December 16, 2009 at 6:25 am

    What I hate even more is the Multiple Choice questions they ask on the applications (you rarely act without thinking: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). Who comes up with this stuff? Is this train of questions suppose to reveal some kinds of “unqualifications” I have? or are they just there to piss people off.

  • Bill
    February 12, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I got an answer that fits any of these silly interview questions.

    Answer to give to interviewer: How did you answer this question during your own job interview?

  • February 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I always like to ask the question “Where do you see yourself in 100 years?”

    If the interviewee answers:

    “living and working in a dystopian world, where we are slaves to our robo/cyborg overlords.”

    Which is of course the appropriate (if cliche) answer.

    In which case the applicant is definitely put in our “maybe” pile.

    Interview Coach

  • dermajuv
    February 18, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    that is hillarious

  • Ron
    February 22, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    In my last interview I was asked “where do you see myself in 5 years”. My response was “on the other side of this desk”. It might not have been the best answer I could have given but I got the job. That was 2 1/2 years ago and I am now the head of my department and closing in on that desk.

  • Carolyn
    February 25, 2010 at 7:10 am

    The worst question I was every asked (I did get the job) was about my husband. I was asked about HIS work history and career. I answered the question about his work history just like I would about my own, and after I got the job, I told the GM (who I worked for) that I was asked this question by the HR Manager.

  • Snarky
    April 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Why do you want to work for us?
    Oh DUH! To earn money so I can pay the bills.

    But why THIS company?
    You exist and there is a finite possibility you might money, which is something of value, in return for doing something you need to get done, like designing and testing real time embedded software.

    But why us? Why company A and not company B?
    That’s an illogical question since I also sent my resume to company B.

    (Surprised expression) You applied to company B?
    Yes. They too, exist, and there’s a finite possibility that they might hire me to do something of value for them. I will take the first reasonable offer from anyone who is serious about hiring and doesn’t want to just waste my time asking stupid questions.

    Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
    I can’t see myself 5 years from now. If I look down, I can see my arms, legs, and torso, but I am only seeing the light that reflects off of those parts of my anatomy right now, or, technically, a few light nanoseconds ago. I can’t even see all of myself. I can’t see my own eyes. I can, if I stand in front of a mirror, see a reflection of my eyes after the light that hit my eyes bounces off of a shiny surface, but in any case, the light that will reflect off of me 5 years from now is not hitting my retinas, so, I can’t see myself 5 years from now. Besides, if I could see into the future, I would have already made a fortune in the stock market and wouldn’t be sitting here and fielding stupid job interview questions.

    Let me rephrase the question. What would you like to be doing 5 years from now?
    I’d like to have made enough money off of my stocks and mutual funds to put enough into an inflation hedged lifetime immediate annuity that will generate more than enough to live on so I will no longer need to work.

    What is your biggest weakness?
    I have trouble hiding my disdain for stupid job interview questions.

    We have other candidates that are more qualified than you. Why should we hire you?
    More qualified? By what metric? Who are they and how are they more qualified? More education? More relevant experience?

    (Dumbfounded look)
    Let me dumb down my question with an analogy. You need a motorized vehicle. Which is more “qualified”, a race car or a dump truck? If you want to drag race, I’d go with the race car, but if you want to haul freight, I’d go with the dump truck. By what metric are they more qualified?

    Well… um… just in a general way. Okay, I’ll say more relevant experience.

    Next question. Does the number of these supposedly more qualified candidates plus me exceed the number of similar job openings you have?

    … Well… uh, okay, let’s say yes, there aren’t enough jobs for all.

    Next question, since the questions you’ve asked so far would give no information regarding my qualifications; it seems that you’ve determined my qualification from my resume alone. That indicates you should know the qualifications of the candidates you haven’t interviewed yet and therefore you know everybody’s qualifications. That being the case, why haven’t you already made job offers those more qualified people? The fact that you haven’t reflects negatively on you.

    How do you deal with the “difficult” coworker?

    Difficult how?

    You know, just difficult; hard to get along with.
    Is it you? Are you the annoying person I’m going to need to try to get along with? I must say, with these stupid questions you keep asking, I’m finding you to be very annoying.

    Look, the honest answer to all of your questions is, “I just want to make a living. My resume tells you my education and what I’ve done in the industry. My references will tell you how well I’ve done those things. I am willing to give you something of value, like an honest day’s work, in return for something of value, like a paycheck. It’s that simple. I can’t dumb it down any more than that. “

  • Steve
    April 27, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I didn’t get a job once when I answered an interview question; “Would you be happy to undergo a drugs test?”

    I replied “No point really, I like them all”

  • like_a_glove
    June 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

    The worst company interviews I had after graduating from college are with iBank and Sony Life Philippines. Unforgettable, but I am happy I didn’t get the job. They work as a team, the HR and the Managers, if you’re not that impressive, they really know how to do a past time.

  • Nic
    June 24, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Yeah, I’ve had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of some of these. I’d never heard of the pen thing though, that’s ridiculous.

    And my sister got asked which character from Friends she would be. Bit of a problem, seeing as she’d never even watched it. She told the interviewer so and then asked how the question pertained to the job she was applying for.

    Needless to say, she didn’t get it. But by the end of the interview, she didn’t want it either. Seriously, it was graduate jobs she was after, she’s not stupid and graduate employers need to have a little more respect for the intelligence of their applicants.

  • karen
    June 26, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Well, the interview question I keep getting asked is this, “What are you going to do for me and why should I hire you?” When you are at a professional level and interviewing for a specific skill set I find this to be a bizarre sort of question. The response I’d continually receive to my answer was, “Very good.” That indicated to me that the interviewers are working off a prompt sheet and really had no idea what they want to hear, much less want to say. I have found that some of these professional jobs are already preselected before you even enter the interview setting. Sometimes it all feels like a big waste of time!

  • Kara
    September 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    I was asked “Tell me about a bad decision you’ve made at a job?”
    I literally froze, wasn’t expecting that, so I had NOTHING to say, couldn’t even make up something on the spot. The interviewer didn’t let it go, she gave me a few minutes, I just sat there uncomfortably, & eventually I had to say I couldn’t think of anything. I couldn’t think of any way to answer this trick question without looking bad. She said we’d get back to it later. And she DID, she asked it again at the end!!! Horrors!! Needles to say, I didn’t get that job. Now I know the answer to that question, should it ever be asked again: “not answering this question was a bad decision I made at a job (interview)!

  • October 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Hopefully somewhere other than here…

  • October 28, 2010 at 10:08 am

    “What’s 12 times 12?” – A gross.

  • Pigbitin Mad
    November 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    I truly believe most of these interview questions are designed to determine who is the best at sucking up. Otherwise, they should just test you on computers to see how much you know. Most people don’t have earth shattering accomplishments like winning the nobel prize, and for me, I just can’t talk about filing and spreadsheets as if it is not something extraordinary. I feel like a complete idiot tooting my own horn that way. However, in every job situation I feel like I knew more than everyone else who got promoted based on the fact that they had a nice smile or whatever. It totally sucks the way hiring is done in this country.

  • Dan
    November 26, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I was asked by an In-N-Out interviewer: “What makes you special, better than all the other applicants out in that lobby?” I really REALLY wanted to answer “If anything did, would I really be applying at a burger joint?”

    But of course since nothing does I really needed the job so I answered “I’m not in school like most of them so I can work full time, any shift.”


  • mark
    December 10, 2010 at 9:21 am

    if you and a brother went in business togeather and had a backer and the backer was was repondsuble to buy 2 trucks and 3 traillers and after a year in business thay decided to take out one partner and thay wont to get the truck back and thay owe money to the patner thay are gettingrid off can thay legaly put a warrent out for you

  • Nat
    December 17, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Once I interviewed at KFC, and the manager blurted out “How old are you?” I answered “Old enough.” his response: “Whoa, I should start saying that.

    Come to think of it, a majority of the KFC questions would get “U” labels. One of their questions was “Do you have a sense of humor, and how do you show it?”

  • Danny
    February 11, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Why are you leaving your current role?
    I am not, i just want to make extra money.

    What salary are you looking for?
    The max!

  • Silly Girl
    February 16, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    The interviewer had three cell calls that she took during my interview. The calls were from her family and friends who were trying to help her purchase tickets to a concert for her daughter. Apparently it was THAT important to interrupt the interview, yet a sign was posted on the door “DO NOT INTERRUPT, INTERVIEW IN PROCESS”. I wonder why they bothered posting the sign.

  • Dee
    February 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I was interviewing for a Marketing & COmmunication position, (2nd ROund) with a CEO.

    The Question was ” How do you get Ideas?”

  • Andre
    March 10, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    “Do you you have any problem with drugs or justice that the company should be aware of?”

    “That the company should be aware of, no”

  • Bob
    April 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    This was not really a question but rather one of the most stupidest statement given to one of the guys at an interview. After haggling the guys with some questions, the HR lady finally told the guy that we cant hire you as you have an MTI(mother tongue influence) in your thought proces. When we heard,there was a loud burst of laughter outside.

  • jr23
    April 12, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    try a spell checker

  • Sean
    April 22, 2011 at 5:46 am

    There is some good stuff about interviews on – search for interviews…

  • Anonymous
    April 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Yeah, Mark how old are you?

  • Warren Marris
    July 29, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I applied for a post with my Local Council’s Housing Benefits section here in the UK… Interview was fine, Which i was surprised about as i was very nervous and it showed…

    It was the Stage 2 that was an issue… All candidates were given a short exam along basic procedures. We had a PC each and some paper… And a few questions to work on.

    I was possibly the most resourceful. First questions were wasy enough but my math is a bit slow – So I used the PC’s built in Calculator on Windows.

    Final part was to write a letter with Specific details given in a set order… Very simple task and the letter would only be about 5 lines long… Yet one chap I saw accross from me wrote a letter to THE WRONG PLACE (It was to a customer but he addressed it to the COUNCIL!), The WRONG PERSON ENTIRELY (The letter was suuposed to be sent to a Mr Smith fropm a Mr Barret – Wrong order!) and finally he wrote about completely the WRONG SUBJECT! The subject in question – A simple Housing Benefit Enquiry…

    The Bloke accross from me wrote a 2 page letter about how the person was being Investigated for BENEFIT FRAUD??? Thats a completly different department!!!!

    So… The results??? I never got the job – But the bloke who obviously couldn’t understand simple instructions has since been promoted and works at a local housing office!!!

    Enough said! Now we know why the UK econemy is in such a freaking state!

  • Michelle
    August 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I was applying for a position at Teleflora (flower sales over the phone, like 1-800 Flowers) and was asked

    “If you could be any cereal which one & why” So my first response was “are you serious?!” very much so! So I replied, “I guess Cheerios cuz I like Cheerios and that question was so random I don’t have any other answer!”

    Also was asked “would you ever file unemployment against us?” Answered with a smile & laughter Yes, i’m actually on it now. I got laid off my last job and I’m making full use of what the gov has available while I’m steady looking for a job!”

    My current job, at a bank, I was asked most of the ques above and when they got to the “what ques do you have for us part” I grilled them!

    What’s the atmosphere like here?
    What are the employees like?
    What’s the turnover like here? I’m looking for something permanent because job searching is stressful so do most employees stay or is there a high turnover?
    I’m looking for part time employment and a lot of jobs start off part time and then start pressuring you to work full time, is this definitely going to be a permanent part time position?
    I’m a very hardworking person and I’m worth the money I ask for, does this position have a pay cap or can i continue to have pay increases from year to year? etc etc.

    I got the job & a year and a half later, I still love it!

  • connect
    March 9, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Two questions stand out. The first was illegal, “Was I planning on having any more children?” I pointed out that it was an illegal question but I would answer by choice. I got the job.

    Second scenario was weird. I interviewed with an HR person who was very nice and then had separate interviews with two different managers. One asked me if I was Windows 2000 qualified (it was a while ago obviously). I wasn’t and said so and he asked why I thought I could learn Windows 2000. I answered since I had managed to learn DOS and every version of Windows that had been released since then, I had every confidence I could learn Windows 2000. I then asked him if all of his current staff were Windows 2000 qualified. That seemed to throw him. Needless to say I did not want the job and did not get the job. Thankfully the other manager asked more meaningful questions and I ended up working for the company. The “Windows 2000” guy was later moved out of his managerial role into something that required minimal human interaction. :)

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