I recently read an article on Business Insider called “The Most Ridiculous Things People Did In Job Interviews This Past Year.” I always enjoy hearing about whether job candidates brought their parents to an interview or whether an oblivious job candidate pulled out his lunch and began eating during questioning. Reading about the clueless occasionally delights me as obviously it does most of you or else credible publications like Business Insider would not continue to publish articles about them.
But while I was basking in my self-satisfaction I grew annoyed by a few of the so called “ridiculous” responses provided to Business Insider by reputable recruiting firm Robert Half. Now one could easily raise an eyebrow at a few dumb questions that candidates asked such as, “Is the boss single?” or “Do you allow midday naps?” My issue is with this question which Robert Half deemed ridiculous enough to make the list. “What color is the paint in this office?” Forgive my possible ignorance but is that really such an outlandish question? Maybe the interviewer and the candidate had established a good rapport and the candidate, who perhaps was painting their living room, felt comfortable enough to inquire about the color. Is asking about the color of paint truly so “ridiculous”?
When asked about weaknesses one candidate replied, “Many times I’m misunderstood,” while another mentioned, “I don’t like cliques.” As hiring managers do we not want at least a smidgeon of honesty when asking candidates about their weaknesses or do we really want canned responses such as, “I try too hard.” If the responses above are really that ridiculous than what does our reaction to them say about how uptight we are as interviewers and hiring managers?
In my dealings with hiring managers I have often seen good candidates eliminated from consideration because of a typo on their resume which everyone and I mean EVERYONE has mistakenly done at least twenty times in their life. Yet why do we derive such joy in throwing that resume into the discard pile? How many good candidates are lost because hiring managers want to buy a ticket for a power trip and reject candidates for the slightest misstep?
I don’t know under what context the paint question above was asked. Yes, perhaps it was asked at an inappropriate time and made the candidate appear as though they weren’t actively engaged in the process. I fail to see how asking it can be seen as ridiculous enough to be worth mentioning in an article on Business Insider. So what if a candidate doesn’t like cliques? Good for them I say!
One candidate mentioned that when their buttons are pushed they occasionally let a curse slip out. Would you hire a candidate who admitted that? Evidently some people think this is a ridiculous response and wouldn’t touch a candidate honest enough to admit they are human. I have heard someone curse in every job I have worked. I bet you have too and though the behavior is not exactly acceptable do we have the right to look down our hypocritical nose at someone for admitting the truth? Do we think that someone who actually admits in an interview that they might curse is too stupid to hire, or do we just forget our own flaws while sitting on our hiring manager throne?
If we’re going to be this uptight let us at least not waste the candidate’s time or ours by meeting with them face to face. Far more efficient methods exist to exercise our questionable “judgment”.