Thursday, March 6, 2008

Strange Interview Questions, Strange Interview Indeed

I've been job-hunting since mid-January, after getting let go from a contracting position because of budget cuts. Contracting is a cool gig, but the downside is that when the budget gets cut, the contractors are first to go.

And I'd forgotten how weird interviewing is.

It's bad enough to have one person interview you, but the trend seems to be to have four or five people in the interview, all rotating asking really general "behavioral" questions and asking for further clarification.

Some of these questions are just plain strange, and my interview today hit a new level of weirdness in interview questions.

"Describe your understanding of databases." Two or three questions like this. Really, really general questions, and I couldn't get them to be specific towards a direction. What I wanted to say was, "Well, if it's broke, your website won't work for shit. In fact, if it's broke, anything running off it won't work for shit." It didn't seem appropriate, but I kind of felt it was. You see, nowhere on my resume does it say anything about me using Access or other database, other than a brief testing stint. And honestly, a monkey could've done that testing.

"What do you think the future of the healthcare industry is?" Ah-hah! I have an answer! I started off with "The 47 million uninsured Americans will obtain some level of subsidized or mandated insurance...."and then they said, no, from a technology standpoint. So I said, well, that's another group for an RFP....

....and tacked on that a single-package solution would become the norm for housing patient medical information, insurance payments, medical costing, E-prescriptions, E-claims filing, yadda yadda....Mayo Clinic and U of F are using these kinds of programs...." SAVE!

"How do you go about analysis and decision-making?" There were three questions that were variations on this theme. I've yet to come up with a response to this that's broad, yet specific. I mean, my "methodology" is to get an understanding of what the client wants/needs, read everything on the subject I can get my hands on, look at the specs and deadlines, and promise the developer beer. It's worked so far.

"How do you handle changes in scheduling?" I lie down on the floor and kick my feet and scream and say it's not fair. Waaah! What do you think?

"What is the worst decision you've made?" The ones that first came to mind ("I didn't opt to file an EEOC complaint against a discriminatory employer"; "Telling the 'Employee Advocate' twat in HR that she obviously couldn't discern the difference between FMLA and the ADA any more than she could tell her ass from her elbow"; and "I took my ex back and wasted four more years of my life.") all seemed like bad choices. So I was puzzled.

I know what they're looking for when they ask question. They want to hear, "I made such-and-such [relatively minor but noticeable] mistake and here's how I learned from it and then we all went and had tea and scones with jam." I know. But as a question, it only tells the interviewer that I know how to spin words.

And here's another problem. The worst work thing I have done was when a Public Health Clinic advisory went out, and the word "Public" in the headline was missing the "l". A lot hangs on that "l" in the word "public." Especially at 42-point. Bold. But I'm never really sure how people will take it when I say that -- and worse, I've had interviewers not get it.

But the all-time winner dipshit question du jour was, "What is your personal motto?" Who the hell has a personal motto, much less one at their fingertips that isn't overtly religious, or so utterly misanthropic that it causes HR people to run screaming out of the conference room?

I muddled through, but today's was seriously the weirdest interview I've been on in a while. Most peculiar.

8 comments:

  1. Never been asked for a personal motto, you could always start chanting "Death to the unbelievers", though I think shouting some random obscenities in gaelic would also work. Or, in your case, German.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think if someone asked me most of those questions I'd just take it as a good sign that I didn't want to work there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Worst decision you've ever made? Any good answer to this question?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Worst question I ever heard -"What do you think of me as an interviewer?" Whoa. "Honesty is the best policy" definitely does not apply here. The most positive statement I could think of - "You have a unique approach." I found 38more strange, tricky interviewing questions and best answers at InterviewDoctor.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Worst question I ever heard -"What do you think of me as an interviewer?" Whoa. "Honesty is the best policy" definitely does not apply here. The most positive statement I could think of - "You have a unique approach." I found 38more strange, tricky interviewing questions and best answers at InterviewDoctor.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am happy that i was never asked these kind of question. Thanks for sharing !

    Health interview questions

    ReplyDelete
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