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Five Interview Questions No One Has The Right To Ask

Posted by | May 14, 2015 | Interviews, Tips

Via Forbes : You have to be ready, because you’re going to hear obnoxious and intrusive questions on a job interview. You have to be ready to answer them, and that’s why I’ve supplied answers to each of our five disgusting job interview questions below. Before you read the answers, though, it’s important to understand why these questions are so inappropriate.

You are a businessperson, and when you apply for a job, you send in a piece of business correspondence. Your resume or application is no different from a vendor sending in a proposal in reply to an RFP (Request for Proposal) that a company advertises.

When a business decides that it needs a new office cleaning company, it will publicize an RFP and various vendors will respond to it. The RFP document sets out the requirements for any office cleaning company that wants to bid on the available project.

The RFP might say “We need to know how long you’ve been in business, how many employees you have, what kinds of cleaning equipment you have available and how many other offices you are already cleaning.”

They will collect that information along with the pricing for each vendor’s bid, and they’ll make a decision about which office cleaning company they want to hire.

That process is very businesslike. Why should it work any differently in employment?

We are used to hearing interviewers ask us intrusive questions, so we think it’s normal. It’s not! You are applying for a job, not applying to enter the priesthood. There is no reason for someone on the other side of the interviewing desk to think that they have the right to ask you questions about your innermost thoughts and concerns. That’s why “What’s your greatest weakness?” is a wildly inappropriate question to ask on a job interview.

You’re too polite to say it, but “It’s none of your business!” is the answer you’d give if someone asked you this question in any other business setting, apart from a job interview. It truly is none of anyone’s business what you believe to be your weaknesses, if you believe you have weaknesses at all.

I realize that I barely know you, but I don’t think you have any weaknesses. You only have talents you’re already developing and others that you’re exploring for the first time.

If an interviewer isn’t comfortable having you turn around and ask him or her “What are your greatest weaknesses?” then they shouldn’t ask that question of you, either.

A job interview is a meeting between two people, and if anyone is too zombified to show up at that meeting as a human being rather than a corporate or institutional robot, they should leave the interviewing duties to someone else.

Here are five interview questions that no one has the right to ask you (but they will ask you, anyway!):

  1. What’s your greatest weakness?
  2. What’ is the lowest salary you would accept?
  3. What will you bring to this job that no one else will?
  4. How badly do you want the job?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

The “weakness” question has nothing to do with business. It’s a religious question, because it springs from the non-scientific belief that people naturally have weaknesses they must expend energy to correct. We destroyed that question over here.

If someone asks you “What’s your greatest weakness?” you can laugh and say “Chocolate!” or you can say “I used to obsess about my weaknesses years ago, but now I focus on getting better at things I love to do and do well — like econometric forecasting, in my case.” If your mojo is high that day you can add “What about you?”

“What’s the lowest salary you would accept?” is incredibly rude. Why should you give up your negotiating leverage? If you feel spicy, you can say “Make me an offer and we will find out together!” Otherwise, you can say “My salary target is $X.” This off-the-wall and impolite question is just a rephrased version of “You already told me your salary target, but what would you really accept?”

It’s a question that shows an interview’s unfortunate early training. I don’t want you to work for rude people. You can’t grow your flame working with people like that. If the interviewer is very young, you can give him or her a pass. Otherwise, you might decide to conclude the interview then and there and go find a nice gelato.

The question “What will you bring to the job that no one else will?” is another question that makes no sense. How would you know what you can bring to the job that no one else will? The question “What’s so special about you?” is just a request for you to start tap-dancing in order to please the interviewer. Don’t do it!

You can say “You have the advantage there, because I don’t know the other candidates, but I can say that if our conversation today doesn’t suggest that I’m the right person for the job, there will be lots of other talented people for you to choose from.” Don’t kiss anybody’s tush on a job interview — you are too smart and capable to grovel.

It takes a lot of chutzpah for someone to ask you “How badly do you want the job?” when they haven’t invested a single calorie or brain cell in selling you on the opportunity. I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you responded to this obnoxious question with “How badly do you need help?” but you could also give a softer answer, like this:

Them: How badly do you want the job?

You: I definitely want a great job with a great organization where I can learn a lot, but I’m too new in the conversation with your firm to be able to answer your question more specifically than that. Can you please help me understand the reason for the question? Are you looking to hire someone who is desperate for a job?

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” is the ancient, crusty, brainless question that interviewers used to ask in the days when getting a job offer meant signing on to one employer for five or ten years.

Nowadays the “five years” question makes no sense, because the company is certainly not planning to guarantee your employment for five years or even five weeks.

You can answer “Five years from now I’ll be doing work I love, for sure, among smart and committed people — perhaps here or somewhere else. What about you?”

It’s a new day. The Human Workplace is already here. We can lose the brainless interview questions and interview people as humans. It’s a lot more fun to do that and you’ll make better hires that way. On the other side of the desk as a job-seeker, you can bring yourself to the job interview and stop feeling that you have to grovel and beg for a job.

Try interviewing like a human next time! Leave a comment and tell us how it goes.

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