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Top 10 Stupid Inteview Questions: #8

Reader Mike Urbonas did a nice post about my 1997 book (not to be confused with the new book, How to Work with Headhunters) … Thanks, Mike! … But that’s not what’s so cool about his post.

Mike brings up an old story published by Mr. Angry (Melbourne, Australia) that’s very instructive and a good reminder that just because some guy is asking you stupid questions in a job interview doesn’t mean you have to behave stupidly, too. Pointless Interview Questions actually conks us all on the head — and rips interviewers a new one.

Top 10 Stupid Interview Question #8 (well, maybe it’s #7) that a recruiter asked Mr. Angry:

How would you move Mount Fuji 1/2 a kilometre to the South?

And part of Mr. Angry’s let’s-come-back-to-reality response:

How could that possibly benefit the business?

Why do employers ask stupid interview questions? Mr. Angry reveals the sad truth — interviewers can’t justify the canned questions they ask. They’re asking them simply because they read somewhere that asking what animal you’d be if you could be any animal reveals deep truths about a candidate… Gimme a break.

Mr. Angry’s transcription of his interview is a must-read. His handling of the interviewer is funny, but it’s much, much more. His responses are dead-on. All kidding aside, I’d use a personalized version of what he said to the interviewer without hesitation.

Thanks, Mike. Mr. Angry — kudos to you!

  1. Hi Nick! Thanks for the mention!

    And Mr. Angry, wherever you are, “Good on ya, mate!” :-)

  2. I was with Mr. Angry all the way until the last 2 rejoinders.

  3. That idiot was there for the interview because no previous applicant supplied him with the feedback he so desperately needed. I approved all the way down.

    One of the big reasons why the world seems to be full of idiots, is because being an idiot is insufficiently costly.

    Blast’em — especially if, like Mr. Angry, you are in a strong enough position to not need this particular job. You’ll be doing the rest of us a big favor.

  4. Mr. Angry gave a great answer to the hypothetical — I wish all analysts asked “why” before they started working on a job. I’d hire him as a project manager tomorrow.

  5. I’ve had good laugh here and at Mr. Angry’s. Until I got to a comment of a Vladimir to the latter one how smartass he was when dealing with the question how would he design a bike for visually impaired. It this moment I realized that the problem is not in the question ”per se”, but with the interviewer who failed to dynamically communicate. Even the stupid Fuji question may be recast in a way to simulate the business at hand. I trust you all, once recognizing the real issue, you may turn a confrontation described in the “Fuji” piece into a dialog (if you really want the job and undestand that the PR jock is just a minor hurdle on your track). Mr. Angry explained that he could allow himself to have some fun. But from Nick Corcodilos I would expect to see a piece of advice. While I do know and appreciate his main one (talk to the real manager about the bottom line), handling streamlined jocks is a good experience, and useful for any job, in addition to any technical skills (and this skill does contribute to the bottom line). My advice is both millenia old and corroborated by the topmost hi-tech: think for your adversary and then nudge him to do what you want (and make him think that it was actually his idea). To all readers: as an exercise, please write an equally funny “Fuji” dialog, but in which the PG guy eventually invents the way for mt. Fuji to work for his business, and you move it for him.

  6. @Nick: I like your jujitsu approach. Use your “adversary’s” weight against him. It takes a sharp candidate to turn around such a question. Learning to handle the interviewer is a skill to learn. “I don’t mean to sidetrack your interview questions, but I’m really interested to know how an answer to that question helps you make a hire.” Yah, that’s head-on, but interviewers need to learn how to deal with assertive candidates… ;-)

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