Confirmed! Crazy Interview Questions Don’t Work

» Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in interviews, job search | Comments Off on Confirmed! Crazy Interview Questions Don’t Work

Confirmed! Crazy Interview Questions Don’t Work

You may have heard me on The Boss Show a few weeks ago in a segment called “Stupid Job Interviewer Tricks” talking about what companies and interviewERS need to do differently. This is all part of my latest rant campaign – to get companies to stop complaining about their applicants, and instead focus on what they, as the people doing the interviews, can do better.

Steve Motenko threw me for a loop when he asked me to answer a “crazy interview question” on air…(If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?). I know it’s a struggle when you’re asked these kind of goofball questions in an interview…imagine being asked on a radio show and knowing it’s going to be recorded! Ugh.

Well, after I babbled something about being an oak tree, we talked about why I think companies ask these questions in the first place. My thought was that they want to see how you think on your feet, and that there’s no right answer – they just want to hear your thought process. But I also commented that sometimes I think it’s part of the culture of the company – let’s see how we can make people squirm.

Which Is why I was so happy to see this article “Google Admits Its Crazy Interview Questions Were ‘A Complete Waste Of Time’.” which confirmed my suspicion – these crazy interview questions are more for the person doing the interview than the person being interviewed.

“We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time,” Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior VP of People Operations, tells The New York Times. “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.

Which is great news if you’re interviewing at Google. There’s no longer a need to stress out about what ice cream flavor you would be! Not so great if you’re interviewing somewhere else and they still use brainteasers for interview questions.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a good way to tell your interviewer that those types of questions are a complete waste of time. Especially if your interviewer is asking to make himself/herself feel smart! So you’ll need to answer, in a thoughtful way. Don’t worry about being clever. Take your time and remember to explain your thought process like this interviewer did. (I like the way his first response was to ask the interviewer to clarify her questions. It shows you don’t make assumptions.) Once you land the job, and have established your credibility you can give some feedback about the interview process and the brainteaser questions, if it’s appropriate.

What brainteaser questions have you been asked in an interview?


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Andrea Ballard, Career Coach

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