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This post is very close to my heart because I don’t believe in the “creative” questions some hiring managers put to their candidates. I was once asked, “If you were a car, what type of car would you be?” I was looking for an entry-level job and just wanted to be able to afford a car not be one. (In case you want to know my answer, I saw the hiring manager arrive in the parking lot and gave her the same car model. My brown nosing did not work. I did not get the job.)

I know that premium brands like Apple and Google ask some strange questions but they have to hire “unique” people. Some HR leaders believe that a good off the wall question can give you a view into a person’s personality, but so can references.

Talent management consultants Development Dimensions International quizzed more than 2,000 newly hired employees about strange questions they had fielded in their 2012 job interviews. Here is their list of the some of the best (worst).

  1. “Have you ever been to a disco?”
  2. “Do you wish you were a famous person?”
  3. “Can I see your wallet?”
  4. “How much do you love money?”
  5. “Discuss the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.” (for a retail management job)
  6. “Describe your sex life.”
  7. “Do you have a bird?”
  8. “Do you whiten your teeth?”
  9. “Do you believe there is life in outer space?”
  10. “Are you expecting to get married or have children in the next year?”
  11. “Are you a Muslim?”
  12. “Are you gay?”
  13. “Are you a racist?”
  14. “Are you straight or bi?”
  15. “What leadership skills are required to cook a chicken?”
  16. “What would you do if someone spat on you?”
  17. “How do you get along with your mother-in-law?”
  18. “How do you feel about cats?”
  19. “Are you good at picking up women?”
  20. “What is your dog’s name?”
  21. “How much can you drink?”
  22. “What would make you want to leave your husband?”
  23. “Are you willing to put your job before your family?”
  24. “Have you ever had a sexually transmitted disease?”
  25. “How many Beatles can you name?”
  26. “If you could commit a crime, what would it be?”
  27. “Would you go out with me?”
  28. “Many of our employees are Catholic. Would you have trouble fitting in here?”
  29. “Can I have a copy of your birth certificate?”
  30. “What would you do if your spouse got a job in another state?”
  31. “Are you expecting?”
  32. “Is there anyone else you would recommend for this position?”
  33. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
  34. “Can you give me a small photo of yourself?”
  35. “Did you ever have trouble starting your car?”
  36. “Can I get a recommendation from your pastor?”
  37. “Can you turn around?”
  38. “Can you count to 50?”
  39. “Will you keep other people sober at the Christmas party?”
  40. “Are you willing to add some toxicity to your life?”

I would be amiss, as an associate at an HR consulting firm, to not point out that questions 10, 11, 17, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, and 36 are out of bounds according to federal laws. No. 3 can be out of bounds, unless the questioner is looking for a driver’s license. Questions 6, 12, 14, and 19 are illegal in some places that have laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but, even so, smart hiring managers don’t tread into those waters.

We often hear the complaint that there are few “qualified” candidates in the market right now. The above also shows that not all hiring managers are “qualified.”


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