Trouble With the Curve (Ball Interview Questions)

Ball coming right at youSome things are just bad ideas: skinny jeans on men, the revival of awkward 70s inspired facial hair, Justin Bieber. Seriously Canada, enough already.

Another travesty of rational thought is currently assaulting the world of job hunting. It comes in the form of awkward and largely irrelevant questions designed to catch candidates off-guard and test their ability to respond in the moment.

While proponents claim they help circumvent prepared remarks and ascertain a candidate’s critical thinking ability, unless purposefully designed and tied to a specific qualification for a specific position, novelty questions can make the interviewer and by association, the company, look ridiculous. Asking hypothetical questions such as: what would you do if you were the lone survivor of a plane crash? might give you a glimpse into the candidate’s strategic planning capability, I’d rather know when he or she actually applied the skill.  

And while some might make the argument that the favorite Disney princess or Batman vs. Spiderman questions could uncover a person’s conceptual flexibility and ability to think on their feet, these questions favor verbal processors and inspired only surface thinking. Again, I’d rather get deeper thought and greater insight that can actually be applied on the job.

So how can candidates navigate these curveballs questions? Easy, next time an interviewer asks you “who would win in a fight between Spider-Man and Batman?” Smile. Then say, “Interesting. Of course a better question might be who would win at Scrabble, Aunt May or Alfred? Your thoughts?” Faced with a dose of their own absurdity they’d likely get the message and steer the conversation toward a more meaningful line of inquiry. If not, move along. If this is how they make hiring decisions, do you really want them evaluating your performance and decide the fate of your career trajectory?

Need a career coach? Contact me via www.plotlineleadership.com.

Be sure to check out my new book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi

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