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