The 10 worst job interview questions + how to tackle them

Bam! Just when you thought you’d made it safely through your job interview, the boss drops a nightmare question on you. A question so unexpected that you didn’t even prepare for it. Your stomach churning, you try every possible combination of all the good interview words you know. Your interviewers smile as they show you the door, but you’re sure you’ve blown it thanks to that one, demon question.

Perhaps it was a weird question. Something designed to test your creativity or probe your personality. Or perhaps it was something HR wasn’t supposed to ask you about. Your age, your children, your ethnicity. Still, it makes you wonder: was there a better way I could have answered that question? wants you to be as prepared as possible for your next job interview. So, we surveyed 2,000 Americans to find out the worst questions they’ve ever been asked. We found out a lot about the way interviewers think, and also about the sexism and other discrimination jobhunters still have to navigate in interviews.

The 16 Worst Interview Questions to Ask a Job Candidate
  1. Where do you see yourself in five years? …
  2. What is your biggest weakness? …
  3. Why should I hire you? …
  4. Where do you live? …
  5. How did your childhood shape your professional life? …
  6. Describe yourself in one sentence. …
  7. What would your arch-nemesis say about you?

Top 10 Times Celebs Mocked Horrible Interview Questions

10 of the worst interview answers and how to improve them

Here are 10 common interview questions and poor responses with ways to improve the answers so you can highlight your qualifications for the job:

2. What do you know about the company?

Poor answer: “I know you sell food products.”

How to improve the answer: Before the interview, take some time to research the company so you can provide a comprehensive answer to this question. In your response, provide specific details about the company to help you appear prepared for the interview and show employers you genuinely want to work for the company. If possible, highlight some ways that your strengths can benefit the companys objectives. For example, you could tell an employer you know the companys mission is to provide exemplary service to each customer and then explain how you can help them reach this goal.

5. What’s a weakness you have?

Poor answer: “I honestly dont think I have any weaknesses.”

How to improve the answer: For this question, its important to be honest and transparent about a weakness so you can show an employer you have self-awareness and a desire to grow professionally. If possible, choose a weakness that has little impact on your ability to do the job well. You can also describe a weakness that youre already actively working to improve. For example, you could tell an employer that you struggle with multitasking, but youre working to improve in this area by making a to-do list each day and prioritizing your top tasks.

worst interview questions

For example, No. 12 (“How honest are you?”) seems like a plenty fair thing to ask, except that the answer could either be a lie or a contradiction. The question probably exists not for an actual gauge of honesty, but because interviewer hopes the candidate recognizes the logical issues the question presents. This throws the question back into the realm of brainteaser and thus makes it all the less useful.

2. “How lucky are you and why?” — Airbnb, content manager 3. “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” — Apple, specialist 4. “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?” — Red Frog Events, event coordinator 5. “Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?” — Dell, account manager 6. “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” — Yahoo, search quality analyst 7. “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” — Bed Bath & Beyond, sales associate 8. “Do you believe in Bigfoot?” — Norwegian Cruise Line, casino marketing coordinator 9. “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” — Xerox, client manager 10. “What is your least favorite thing about humanity?” — ZocDoc, operations associate 11. “How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?” — Factual, software engineer 12. “How honest are you?” — Allied Telesis, executive assistant 13. “How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?” — Goldman Sachs, programmer analyst 14. “Can you instruct someone how to make an origami cootie catcher with just words?” — LivingSocial, consumer advocate 15. “If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?” — McKinsey & Company, associate 16. “Youre a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?” — Urban Outfitters sales associate 17. “How does the internet work?” — Akamai, director

And as a Google spokesperson told ABCNews around the same time: “We have shifted away from these types of questions because candidates hate them, answers leak easily and, most importantly, research on the connection between being able to correctly solve a brainteaser and future job performance and/or IQ is questionable and inconsistent.”

These sorts of brainteaser interview questions have been well-documented, even spurring an advice book on how to navigate them. The basic idea is that they test an employees ability to think outside the box (based on the content) and on their feet (based on the level of surprise the question might pose).

18. “If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?” — SinglePlatform, inside sales consultant 19. “Whats the color of money?” — American Heart Association, project manager 20. “What was the last gift you gave someone?” — Gallup, data analyst 21. “What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?” — Applebee’s, bartender/neighborhood expert server 22. “How many snow shovels sold in the U.S. last year?” — TASER, leadership development program 23. “It’s Thursday; we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?” — ThoughtWorks, junior consultant 24. “Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt.” — Active Network, client applications specialist 25. “Have you ever been on a boat?” — Applied Systems, graphic designer

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