21st February, 2016
This story lays out five old-school, insulting job interview questions that have no business on any 21st-century interviewer’s agenda or lips.
Some people haven’t gotten the memo that the traditional, power-inequality-driven interview questions are embarrassing throwbacks. They brand an employer as out of touch and behind the times.
Still, many interviewers ask the same tired job-interview questions today that interviewers were asking when The Beverly Hillbillies were on the air.
If you get hit with one of these brainless job interview questions, you can’t very well say “Liz Ryan told me only clueless and behind-the-times interviewers still ask that question.”
That answer wouldn’t win you any brownie points with the interviewer, and in any case, the company may well force its interviewers to ask interview questions that should have been retired half a century ago.
You have to answer the interview questions they ask you, no matter how ridiculous and juvenile those question may be. If you don’t want to answer a question, your only other option is to get up and leave.
Here are three suggested answers for each of my five past-its-expiration-date interview questions. You can choose the answer to each question that feels most comfortable to you.
The low-mojo answer to each of our five obnoxious interview questions is the traditional answer. This is the answer a brainwashed Sheepie Job Seeker will typically deliver.
The medium-mojo answer shows a little spark and personality.
The high-mojo answer is my favorite of course, and the high-mojo answers you’ll read below are the frame-shifting answers that tend to get people job offers.
You might not believe that at first, but after a bit of reflection it will hit you that your goal in a job interview is to get the interviewer to think — not to let him or her sleepwalk through the interview.
My high-mojo answers will force the interviewer to think, and that’s what you want. You’ll offer your answer in a friendly way, of course — you’ll invite the interviewer to think about the actual meaning of the words in his or her question.
You won’t fall into the traditional, scripted back-and forth — that is, our low-mojo answers. You’ll keep the conversation human and non-grovelly, no matter how hidebound and script-hugging your interviewer is.
Try a mix of mojo levels as you answer the questions at your next job interview. You are taking baby steps toward becoming a Mojofied Job Seeker.
We are all growing muscles together!
What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
Low-Mojo Answer: I guess I’m too hard on myself. I’m a perfectionist.
Medium-Mojo Answer: I’ve been working hard for the past year on keeping a healthy balance in my life, which was a problem for me before. I’m learning when to put my work down and focus on something else, because burnout isn’t healthy or productive. How do you manage that issue here – the line between work and life?
High-Mojo Answer: That’s a great question! I used to stress about my ‘weaknesses’ when I was younger.
I spent a lot of time working on trying to correct defects that I thought I possessed, until it hit me that I could spend my time getting better at things I don’t love to do and will never be great at, or I could invest my time in getting better at the things I do better than most people.
In my case those things are financial modelling and forecasting.
I stay away from a lot of other things, like writing software and designing brochures. I focus on being the best I can at the things I feel I’m meant to be doing. How about you — what’s your take?
With all the Talented Candidates We Will Meet, Why Should We Hire You?
Low-Mojo Answer: I’m hard-working and a quick learner, I’ve had a lot of experience in Accounts Payable and I really want the job!
Medium-Mojo Answer: Great question. It depends what you’re looking for in particular. If you want someone who views Accounts Payable as a customer service function — from the standpoint that every one of our vendors needs our payments to arrive on time in order to keep supplying us with the raw materials and services they do – I might be a great fit for the job. What’s your view on that?
High-Mojo Answer: That’s a good question. In fact, that’s what you and I are really here to determine, if we boil down the interview process to essentials.
The question is, am I the person you see in this job or is someone else? You’ve got an advantage over me because I won’t meet the other candidates, and you will. There could be someone better suited to your specific needs but I’m confident that if I’m the right person for the job, you and I will both know it.
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Low-Mojo Answer: Working here, perhaps in a slightly higher-level position? Tee-hee! But that’s your decision, of course.
Medium-Mojo Answer: I like Finance, so I imagine I’ll stay in the field. Five years is a long time, but I could see running a Finance department or perhaps doing something very different that includes a Finance aspect — even investing in companies or advising investors or CEOs.
High-Mojo Answer: I’d be doing myself a disservice if I pretended I could plan reliably that far out. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that rolling with changes is a more fundamental life skill than making a plan and sticking to it no matter what.
Sometimes the best opportunities are not in our plans. Five years from now, I know I’ll be happily working with smart people on a big, meaty problem if I’m still around. That’s about as narrow as I would slice it. How about you?
If You Were [An Animal, A Can of Soup, a Movie] Which One Would You Be?
Low-Mojo Answer: [your favorite brand of soup or your favorite movie, e.g.].
Medium-Mojo Answer: Animals? I relate to [some animal] because [your reason]. It’s an interesting interview question — how do you assess the answers that job applicants give you to that question?
High-Mojo Answer: There is n0 high-mojo answer to this question. Give a lower-mojo-level answer and get the job, then start an internal drip marketing campaign to convince your HR department to get rid of this infantile question.
How Badly Do You Want The Job?
Low-Mojo Answer: I want the job really, really badly. Would you like to give me an unpaid assignment? I’ll stay up all night and work on it.
Medium-Mojo Answer: I’ll interpret your question as “How much does this opportunity interest you?” A lot of the aspects of the job that I’ve heard about are interesting, especially working with your vendors on quality control and coordinating shipments with your team members on three other continents. Of course, I’m in an active job search so I have other opportunities working, too. That’s the talent marketplace today.
High-Mojo Answer: You’ve got the evidence that I’m interested in the opportunity — because I’m here! I have some questions for you. Is now a good time to dive into them?