Dear Evil HR Lady,
In the past, I have been frustrated with the silly, inane, irrelevant, and insulting questions that some of your HR brethren throw at me. It is almost as if interviews are a game to them and I am a performing chimp, wearing a silly hat and riding a unicycle for their amusement.
How much did you make at your last position? (None of your business.) Why did you leave your last position? (Again, none of your business.) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Let me get out my fricking crystal ball…) If you could be any animal, which one would you be? (Ok… I have not really been asked this one. But my response might be, “Your dog…so I could crap on your shoes for asking me such an idiotic question.”) Why do you want to work here? (I need a job and you have an opening.) How do other people describe you? (I don’t know. I usually do not ask my friends to describe me.) What is one weakness of yours? (I have a low tolerance for stupid bullshit questions.)
Just once I would like to let these interviewers know what I really think of them. The only reason I would ask some of these questions in an interview is to find an independent thinker who would question the relevance of the interview questions. But actually, I would never play games like that because it would be dishonest and disrespectful. The interviewers, on the other hand, have no qualms whatsoever about playing these little mind games. It is hard to psychoanalyze the interviewer and come up with the “right” answer, and I am tired of trying.
Please give me any insight you may have regarding why interviewers would ask questions like these and possibly how to answer them.
Thanks for listening and for your advice.
I’m quite disappointed that I’ve already used my “Bitter? Party of one?” line in another post. This means instead of being sarcastic and a bit rude (one might say, evil), I’m going to have to answer your questions.
Some interviews are silly, but for the most part, it’s the best way people know how to evaluate a candidate. It’s actually not a very effective way (in my humble opinion) but the other ways are more difficult and (sometimes) cost prohibited.
But, to get a job, one must interview, and to interview successfully, one must not come across as bitter and angry about the process. Nor should one let on that you think the interviewer’s questions are silly.
First up, salary. Now, some would disagree with me on this, but the reason I would ask for your salary history is to determine whether or not this job is a possibility for you. If the job I have pays $40,000 a year and you tell me your current salary is $84,000, I know you won’t be interested in going any further. But wait, you say, I want to take a pay cut because I so much want to work for Evil HR Lady! Great. Then say, “I’m looking for jobs in the $35,000-$45,000 range.
And here’s where the objections come in–ack, you’ve played you hand and now you’re going to lose, lose, lose. Maybe. Feel free to counter the question with one of your own: What does this job pay?
Why did you leave your last position? This tells me a ton about you. If you go on a rant about how much you hated you boss and how he was a jerk and blah, blah, blah, guess what? You’ve just eliminated yourself from the slate of candidates! You left it for growth or opportunity? Bah, I know this is what everyone says, but fine. I now know that you aren’t stupid enough to boss bash.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Have you even thought about it? What kind of career path do you want? Do you want to head into management or are you comfortable being an individual contributor. How does this particular position play into your future plans? When I’m hiring, I want someone that will be good for the company today and good for the company in 5 years. If I can’t fulfill your 5 year plans in my company, maybe you aren’t a great fit.
Why do you want to work here? Really, why? Unless you are applying to Burger King, this matters. What is it about [this company] that you want. You better have done your research about the company before you answer this question. (And in the age of the internet, not having at least looked at website is also a career killer.)
Yes, there may be some psychoanalyzing going on, but basically, we’re just trying to see if you are a fit for the company and the job. We’re not trying to be tricky or mean or demand that you have a crystal ball. We just want to hire the right person.
We want that right person to be you, so stop being angry and stop being crabby and try to think about the interview from the interviewer’s viewpoint.