Who makes up those ridiculous job interview questions?
You know the ones I mean. Why should I hire you? Do you prefer cats or dogs? What would your eulogy say? I realize a stack of psychobabble dissertations enter the rationale of asking, but it still seems silly. I decided to answer a couple for you, just for giggles. As you read my answers, think about what you would say. How would you answer these questions?
I’ll start with one of my favorites. Where do you see yourself in five years? The human resources people want you to say something like, “I see myself as an integral part of this company in a leadership role where I can grow and leverage my skills,” blah, blah, blah. Okay, I’ll try not to be so cynical.
My answer is simple and direct. I will always be a writer and do whatever is best for my family, financially and otherwise. My life has no typical day, so predicting any long-term outcome would be tough. Every new day brings a new direction, circumstances, and decisions, generating a new reality at every step. So, I couldn’t really tell you where I see myself in five years, and any other response would be nonsense.
Next up is a classic inquiry, the answer to which, should you be hired, would be lorded over you forever. What was your most embarrassing moment? It was at my high school prom. My dad drove my girlfriend and me in my family’s 1958 Cadillac limousine. He let us out at the hotel banquet hall entrance, and I was a sight to see in my white tuxedo complete with tales, matching top hat, and a cane. I was feeling pretty cocky – not a good start.
As we made our way inside, the lobby was bustling with activity. At the far end of the room, a photographer took photos of fancy-dressed couples in front of a festive backdrop. For some ridiculous reason, I thought it’d be a great idea to spin my cane in a flourish that would have impressed Fred Astaire. At least, that’s what it looked like in my head.
In reality, I was more Fred Flintstone than Fred Astaire. On its second revolution, the cane tip caught the edge of a coffee table. It spun through the air, narrowly missing a half dozen couples. It landed with a bang at the feet of the photographer, knocking over props and narrowly missing his subjects. To my horror, not to mention my date’s, I’d accomplished my goal – to be noticed, to stand out. All eyes were on me, complete with furrowed brows and a few less-than-flattering words. That was embarrassing.
For my last question, I thought I’d share the strangest thing I have ever been asked in an interview. It was even used in one of my favorite novels in a different context. If your life were categories on Jeopardy!, what would they be? You’d think this would be a relatively easy question, but it’s trickier than you might think. Remember, your categories aren’t necessarily those from the game show. They should represent your life.
My categories include American History, Star Trek Science, Journalism 101, Cycling, Whip It!, and You Do What? Most of these might seem self-explanatory but let me give you some
background on the last one. I have had such a diverse career that when asked to elaborate on it, people often say, “You do what?” With so varied a life story, both personally and professionally, answering usually starts a conversation about who I am and how I got here. It offers the interviewer clear insight into my motivation, character, and background.
These questions can be fun and interesting. But, in my opinion, I doubt they ever really indicate whether you’re a good fit as an employee. However, if you’re job hunting, answer their questions to the best of your ability, but don’t overthink them. All you can do is be direct, genuine, and realistic. Remember the interview is also your opportunity to ask them some questions as well. After all, your livelihood is on the line.
Be sure they’re just as much a good fit for you.
Gery Deer is a Greene County resident and columnist. He can be reached at www.gldcommunications.com.