What Twenty Somethings Hate Being Asked In Job Interviews

I’m learning that I’m in what is a somewhat uncommon role as a young professional. I’m a twenty-something((I just turned 27 in November)) who devotes part of his time to doing job interviews. It’s one of the parts of my job I truly adore. I love getting to analyze answers that people give to various questions. I’ve been told my interviewing style is unorthodox — so much so that a majority of my interviewees have commented that my interviews are strange, thought-provoking, and very enjoyable.

In spite of said unorthodox style, there are still some standard questions I’ll start off by asking in most interviews. They’re typically pretty job specific to the position I’m interviewing for. A major reason I don’t interview in a traditional manner is because of how much I despise specific types of questions in the interview process. You know the questions. They’re the questions that seemingly every interviewer asks that have little to do with the actual job itself, yet are so mundane that job seekers are on auto-pilot when these questions are asked((I do ask a handful of non-job specific questions…but they’re certainly not standard. I may share some of those in a separate post)).

A couple of weeks ago, I took a survey of twenty somethings via Twitter, asking what interview questions they hate being asked. I felt pretty happy that there’s only one question on this list that I’ve ever asked (and have since dropped from my mental list for reasons I’ll explain below). I’ll talk about the three most common responses I received below.

What is your biggest weakness?

Why Interviewers Ask It: This is the lone question from this list that I’ve found myself asking in a handful of interviews. I was taught this question tells you a lot about how good a person is at spinning a negative into a positive. From a very basic level, I can see how this would be possible. After all, no one wants their negative traits to reflect too poorly on them. That said…

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: …it’s the single most overused question in the interviewing process. Literally every place I’ve ever interviewed at has used some variation of this question. It’s so pervasive that most people who think quickly on their feet already have a completely bullshit answer made up for this question before they even step foot into an interview. I do think there’s a general dislike for talking about our personality/work blemishes, though I do not believe that is only a twenty something problem in the slightest.

What was your favorite thing about your last job?

Why Interviewers Ask It: Ultimately, an interviewer is looking for one of two things here. They’re either looking to see if you have the capability to say something nice about a place you’re leaving, or they’re looking to make sure that you’re not a total cynic. It’s a completely attitude-driven question.

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: The question is a trap question that has no great answer. The average millennial has seven job changes in their 20s((http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0)), and there are numerous employers that look down on such job-hopping((http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-vuleta/career-change_b_836473.html)). If you can’t say something nice about your last job, an interviewer will likely assume you’re going to have a bad attitude if there are struggles at this job. It’s unfair…interviewees recognize that.

Why do you want to work here?

Why Interviewers Ask It: An interviewer wants to know why specifically you want to work for their company.

Why Twenty Somethings Hate It: Because the primary reason the majority of people want any job is because we like getting paid. This is even more true for twenty somethings, who are often dealing with the burdens of student loan debt while trying to come into the workforce at poor-paying entry-level jobs. There are other ways to ask this question — What interested you about ABC Company? Why did you choose to take this interview instead of other interviews? If we like you as a candidate, what would make you more inclined to accept this job over other offers — that get your point across as an interviewer.

 

What other questions do you hate being asked as an interviewee? Sound off in the comments.

Front page image credit: Ludovic Bertron on Flickr

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18 thoughts on “What Twenty Somethings Hate Being Asked In Job Interviews

  1. “If we like you as a candidate, what would make you more inclined to accept this job over other offers?”

    -definitely a better question. And I totally agree about the weakness question- I tried really hard to “prep” myself during my last job hunt (for my current position, which I love) and that was one of the questions where I had my answer thought out LONG before I even actually made it to the interview process.

    Do you do exit interviews as well? Because I’m pretty sure the one I did at my last job was NOT normal, and I’d love to hear from the other side and how they are supposed to go.

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    1. I’ve only been on the other side of one exit interview, and it was mostly as an observer. As a result, I really can’t comment on that process. I’ve only had one job ever that did exit interviews at all and I know they did a terrible job at everything else (as evidenced by the fact they closed down a few months later), so I don’t think I have the best example of one either.

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      1. I had never even heard of it until my last job, and I did it less than 24 hours after putting in my notice. Afterwards when I researched it, it seems like literally everything was done differently than the standard.

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        1. I’ve always heard that exit interviews are given on your final day of work. I mean, I can see an advantage to doing it prior to your last day of work, that way if a company wants to keep you, they can have time to put together a counter-offer for you. That said, it does seem odd.

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          1. Yeah, it was also a really small business and instead of doing it with an HR rep or office manager it was done with the owner/most public person in the office. SO AWKWARD. Definitely not the norm. There was a lot about the way employees were treated there that wasn’t exactly…standard. Some good, and some bad.

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  2. Let me just say, AMEN. Especially the greatest weakness one. That one causes me more anxiety than I can even explain.

    The last job interview I had was fantastic. He asked me relevant questions, like how long I planned to stay in the area, and how much I already knew about the company, and most of the rest was just about explaining the job and what I’d be doing, etc. Talking, like grown ups. He already knew my work history from my resume, and then I’m pretty sure he was just one of those people who felt like he could size you up by how you handled yourself in a conversation (and possibly also how patiently you could listen to him ramble).

    I loved it. I felt like I was in to meet a potential boss, not to get hung up and poked at to see how I’d hold up.

    I hate the “are you on your toes” questions, because I guaran-fucking-tee you that 99% of the people in for an interview are so far on their toes that if anything they just need to relax a little. And the 1% who actually doesn’t care? You can usually tell the instant they walk in the room. Who do people really think they’re weeding out by asking them what their greatest weakness is?

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    1. I LOVE the on your toes questions and will ask them in copious amounts. To me, the best customer service agents can think quickly, can think on their feet, and will act in the best interests of the people they’re trying to help in all cases. Since that’s the primary position I interview for, I litter my interviews with that type of question (unapologetically at that).

      Now, with that said, I do not make that type of question the majority of my questions. I care more about getting to know what kind of person I’m looking to bring into the company I work for than how well they answer a complex problem solving question. There’s just far better ways to do so than the questions in this post.

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      1. I suppose the position you’re hiring for does influence that. Most of my experience is in customer service, so maybe that’s why I’ve had so much of that…whereas this last one I had was a higher up position in marketing–sure, you need to be personable and engaging and be able to think on your toes, but more importantly than that you need to be dignified and put together and be able to engage in a normal, professional conversation, which is most of what I’d be doing and most of what the interview was like.

        So.

        Fair enough.

        I still hate those questions though.

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        1. To each their own, I guess. Those are personally my favorite type of questions to get asked, because it typically means that the interviewer did some level of preparing for their interview.

          I think the most important type of question to ask as an interviewer (I’ll write more about this in a separate post) is to ask follow up questions about what the person is saying. Not only does doing so show you’re listening, people are so prepared and robotic with their interview answers that they never say what they truly mean on their first response. Probing and more detailed follow up questions allow you to cut through the bullshit answer to get to the real response.

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  3. I personally hate the “Where do you see yourself in (insert year here)?” I’ve been at the same job for about 9 years, so I’ve only had a handful of interviews, but that question always seems to come up. Even when I was applying for a part-time job at Wendy’s in high school. I never know how to answer it, especially if it’s for a job that you’re really just applying for to make ends meet while you’re working towards your actual career.

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    1. I think that’s a foolish question to ask in an interview for a part-time job, regardless of how old the person is. That said, I think I can justify it much easier for an employer interviewing a high school employee than most interviews. After all, the employer has to consider if that person is going to college/military, and in turn, mentally plan when they’ll be replacing that person as a result of their leaving.

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      1. Yes I understand it for a high school student, but I don’t like it for any job. No one is going to answer that question honestly. They’re there for a job and to say, “I don’t see myself here for very long” obviously wouldn’t get them the job

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    1. I’m not a big fan of being interviewed (though I think I’ve become pretty adept at it). It’s a very awkward experience, especially because of the fact that one of the primary motivating factors for taking each of the last three jobs I’ve had has been the money.

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  4. I prefer the outside of the box questions, because I’ve gotten far too good at ‘playing’ the regular ones. I could whiz my way through any interview because I knew how to answer the way employers wanted. Outside of the box questions challenged me to actually think, respond, and show my qualifications in a way that the basic ones dont.

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