Stupid Interview Questions – If You Were a Cooked Potato, What Type Would You Be?

Maren Hogan Culture, Interviewing, Maren Hogan, Recruiting

Bad Interview Questions: They have been fodder for lots of columns, and recently Workforce Weekly’s John Hollon dropped the lowdown on M$’s questions, and pointed out a few issues with related lines of questioning:

“the superhero question presupposes that everyone has a deep knowledge about the pantheon of superheroes and their unique qualities, and that’s a highly doubtful premise at best.”

Never shy with an opinion, Josh Letourneau also asks the question (with a side of accompanying debate)Mashed_potatoes  and recommends a total walkout when faced with such heinous questions.

So, what’s the story? Where do these crazy questions come from and do we just sit at the feet of larger companies’ ideas because we figure that must be how they got so big and innovative? Why do HR Pros around the world (even some smart ones), ask DUMB questions? (As an aside, here’s an angry aussie who doesn’t like even the most standard of HR queries).

Here are some possible answers:

Power. It’s just fun to watch people squirm. I don’t personally feel this way all the time, but if I did, I would ask a question like ” What was your most crushing failure?”– Please hand your dignity to me on that Chinet plate.

Ignorance. We’ve talked about how some people have fallen into HR (sheepish) and plain do not know what is dumb, illegal, rude or just inefficient.  Or effective for that matter…

Laziness. Some HR folk, recruiters, and HMs never take the time to prep and thus fall back on a hastily printed PowerPoint presentation from their last conference (okay so maybe I did that ONCE).

So, if you can’t ask crazy questions, which questions should you use? I’m of the mindset that you should find out how well they can do the job, how they interact with people under and over them and look at their track record of how long they will stay. Ask whatever questions you think will get those responses, as well as pertinent and exploratory ones provided by managers or former employees in that position. Then ask them if they have any questions and really listen to what they ask. (I know that corp recruiters have a lot of requirements, but I think it is polite and useful to research the candidate’s bio/portfolio/references before the F2F to be able to further craft questions).

And don’t ask any question you wouldn’t be able to give the answer to. For the record, if I was a food, it would be mashed potatoes because there are so few opportunities to talk about the benefits of mashed potatoes in our carb-free world and I always vote for the underdog. See? I’m an open book.

Maren Hogan is a millennial living the dream in Omaha, Nebraska.  When she’s not plotting the downfall of Gen Xer’s like me, she’s doing marketing and development for an IT recruiting and outsourcing firm called HCI.   When she’s not at HCI, she’s blogging at Big O Recruiting and becoming addicted to Twitter…