How do you feel your life has worked out for you so far?
Don’t answer that. It’s not that I don’t care. But Salem Pierce, a 30-year-old graphic designer from Ohio, was actually asked this question in a job interview. Worse, the question invited her to post a two- to five-minute video response.
This could be a new low in the almost always humiliating experience that is the job interview. What are the other awful questions that you could get asked in these death or glory settings, and how might you answer them? Try these for size.
“If you were a piece of fruit, what would you be?”
There is little worse than job interviewers who are under the mistaken impression that they are funny and creative, “edgy” even. These sort of random questions are of course a challenge, meant to unsettle, and are designed to entertain the interviewers rather than find out anything useful about the candidate. Take a deep (but silent) breath, smile gently and say: “An apple.”
“How would you respond if you were being sexually harassed by your boss?”
This one is inappropriate and in bad taste. Perhaps the potential employer is an old-school lech who wants to find out what he might get away with. You have to play this one by the book. Say: “I would of course report this at once to my line manager and perhaps to HR. If the line manager is the predator, I would report the incident to his boss.”
“What is the worst mistake you have ever made at work?”
Again, more interviewer voyeurism (I suppose it’s a long day for them; they probably want to get a couple of decent stories out of it, at least). But you have to play ball. It is worth having a couple of mildly awkward anecdotes, true or false, up your sleeve for moments like this (see also: “What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at work?”). So how about: “We had a big pitch to prepare and in my hurry I thought I had to produce 100 copies of it instead of 10, so I stayed late and printed off all 100 of them, bound them and got them ready for the morning. What a waste of paper!” etc etc, accompanied by some regretful shrugging. That should do the trick.