Education

Poll: What interview question do you hate the most?

There are some interview questions that are openly ridiculed in career forums but that somehow keep finding their way into interviews. Take our poll and let us know which interview question you hate the most.

There are some interview questions that are openly ridiculed in career forums but that somehow keep finding their way into interviews. You know the ones I'm talking about. Take our poll and let us know which of the hated questions you hate the most.

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Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

73 comments
ltjackal
ltjackal

i always hate this one, because 90% job offers state how much they are willing to pay. yet, they have to ask - memory loss? i just don't like this question. :)

jck
jck

"Where do you want to be in 5 years?" I always feel like answering: "On the beach in Cabo San Lucas watching my dividends roll up on my ScotTrade account on my satellite-enabled mobile phone."

step1ventures
step1ventures

The ones you propose are insightful compared to: "Tell me about yourself." and "Why are you applying for this job?" Of course, the real problem is that the first interview is conducted by an HR person who has no idea of what they are hiring you for, and are just trying to prove their worth by interviewing a certain quota of people.

jrhawk42
jrhawk42

I'm fairly good at interviews, and if the person wants I can tell them exactly what they want to hear. The problem is telling them what they want to hear isn't always the best option for either of us. Unfortunately so many people when interviewed will either lie or manipulate their way through an interview that it's impossible for employers to actually pick a good candidate. When I approach it like any other business deal. I'm making sure we are both getting exactly what we need, and we are both happy w/ the final offer. There's nothing worse than finding out the job sucks after 6 months, or that you can't perform the duties of the position.

ardavidsonjr
ardavidsonjr

These questions, in and of themselves, are not unreasonable IF the interviewer is truly objective and looking for the best candidate. However, it has been my experience that hiring managers are seldom objective! Really good candidates are generally viewed as a threat, so these questions become a means of subjective disqualification. The question regarding your weaknesses is my least favorite, because my honest answer would not be ( (and has not been) appreciated: "My biggest weakness is my lack of tolerance for incompetent and/or unprofessional coworkers." To expect people to know their business and be good at it is not unreasonable, but somehow this response never fails to raise eyebrows. Can't imagine why.......

stevieg
stevieg

The question I dislike most is not included in the poll. It is :"Describe yourself in one word." WHAT?!??! Are you serious??? Once during an interview I was asked this question. Perhaps the stars, or moon phase or my disposition was in the correct place. In any case my verbatim response was "Unable to follow directions." End of interview and end of any prospects at that firm. I do hope I made a lasting impression though. Best case: My response lives in the annals of company lore. bye, s

gksmith2002
gksmith2002

When an interviewer does a complete job on talking about the company and the job, the "Do YOU have any questions for us?" is a very tough one for me

avon6403
avon6403

How do I delete this comment?

NYtoCO
NYtoCO

My responses are the following ; 1) What's your biggest weakness? I am terrible at golf and keep hooking my shots to the right. Do you have any suggestions on how to straighten that out? 2) Where do you see yourself in three years? Employed hopefully. That is if I don't hit the lottery first. One can only dream. 3) Why do you think you would be a good fit for our company? I am a great brown noser so I think I could fit in pretty much anywhere. Ok, so I don't use the last one but would really like to someday.

jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

My worst interview question ever: Do you have any special needs that would have to be accomodated - physical, mental or metaphysical? My answer - Nope, I'm in good health, my therapist is turning down the voltage on the shock therapy, and my chakras are all aligned properly. I was shocked when informed I wasn't the right fit...

rtillotson
rtillotson

1. Describe what you consider your number one weakness when performing tasks at work. How do you cope with it? 2. What is your definition of "job growth"? 3. Some of our organizational norms and behaviors include punctuality, enpowering our employees, working in formal and informal teams, focusing on project goals and honest communication. What do you see as your expectations if you join our organization?

Maevinn
Maevinn

My MIL was interviewing and answered this questions with: "My biggest strength is that I see this as a job. I don't take it home with me, I leave it all at the office." She didn't get the job. :D

Cerberus2k7
Cerberus2k7

Why do you think you would be a good fit for our company? To me I hate it because you can only get so much info about a company. In terms of the environment and how one could "mesh" with the company is something; to me anyways; is like a shot in the dark. But at the same time, I don't think it holds much weight.

JimInPA
JimInPA

I do have to say the where do you see yourself in x years is probably my least favorite question. I can't even tell you where I see myself tomorrow. :D

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Just out of college, I had a public accountant I was interviewing ask me to list my worst enemies. He explained that he didn't trust a man without enemies. Why would I have "enemies"? I don't consider anyone my enemy.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

I hate this question because it's a damn balancing act. You can either end up sounding too ambitious and presumptuous or too apathetic. However, my standard boilerplate answer is always, "I see myself getting better and what I do and taking advantage of any opportunities to advance." That question always feels like a trap. Another one is, "How would your current manager describe you in one word?" WTF? Why don't you call him and ask him that.

chilipepperwoman
chilipepperwoman

I personally never blanket the job market with my resumes. I like to go after a company and a position I really WANT. I find a company I want to work for, research it, and tailor my resume to it. If asked in the interview why I'm a good "fit," I discuss how my personal philosophy matches that of the company, how our goals are aligned, etc. First, I don't WANT to work someplace where this is not the case (just causes lots of disappointment and frustration), and second, you score huge points because the interviewer is confronted by a candidate who really wants to work for THAT COMPANY, not just get a job.

zbatia
zbatia

I don't hate those questions. There are always standard answers that can be given with slight variations. I hate the technical questions. Even if you are well rounded in your field and have significant experience, there are always the thing you don't remember, or never paid attention to. This is when all your efforts to answer standard questions can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

What makes me want to THROW FURNITURE on any of these questions is that *EVERYBODY* has read about them in some writeup or book somewhere how to answer questions in an interview. You aske these stupid questions, you get a rehearsed, canned answer. Any interview that is so uncreative and can not think of a real question to ask, well, doesn't need to be interviewing people. "What is your greatest weakeness?" "My inability to contain myself and not tell you what a complete idiot you are for asking me that assinine question."

Bizzo
Bizzo

My biggest weakness? Once I get my mind set on something I never EVER let it go until the job is completed. Where do I see myself in 3 years? In YOUR job. (stare the interviewer straight in the eye, and twitch slightly) Why do I think I will fit in? (still staring at the interviewer) You're a 48 regular right? Just like me! (smiles)

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

This was a toughie. It was, for me, a real tossup between what is you biggest weakness and where do you see yourself in 3 years. In the case of "What's your biggest weakness?", I'd have a hard time deciding which one it is. And my estimate or opinion about such changes from time to time. Might be one thing this time, another 5 minutes later. The problem, of course, is that such things are subjective, not objective. How do yah measure them and who's measuring stick do yah use? For instance, not long ago during a lunch break I was chatting with a coworker. In the process I mentioned that I wished I had a deeper and more thorough knowledge about a particular technical subject because in my opinion I was really weak in that area. To my surprise he looked shocked, and then went on to tell me that he and our other peers within the company all thought I knew more about that subject than ANYONE else they'd ever personally known. Yah could've knocked me over with a feather, I was that surprised. Get my drift? Where do I see myself in 3 years? I hate that question. When I'm applying for a job, I'm applying for THAT job. With intentions of doing THAT job to the best of my abilities. I really don't think beyond that point. Not with any seriousness. It's like back when I was a young puppy. A teen. Went to work in a local grocery, as a general helper. Sweep, stock shelves, bag groceries, etc. Didn't give anything beyond that much thought. Just did my duties as best I could, tried to excel at that. Got surprised one day when the owner told me he wanted to start training me how to do other things. He did, I learned, and tried to do those things as best I could. Then one day he surprised me yet again by telling me he wanted me to start running the store on my own from time to time when he or his second in command (his brother, a co-owner)were away on other business. Same thing when I went into the military. I was the lowest of the low on the totem pole. Didn't even think about that or what the future might bring. Just did what was expected of me as best I could. And started learning to do other things beyond the minimums expected. Not with expectations of some future promotion. Simply wanted to be the BEST bottom man on the totem pole I could be. Was surprised as heck when my supervisor approached me and said he was recommending me for advancement. So on and so forth. One day I found myself in direct charge of 135 men, and second in command of ~650. Didn't PLAN on it, just happened. That's simply the way I view things. Others can agree or disagree, like it or hate it. Its who and what I am. As to the question as to why I think I'm a good fit for a company. I'm as likely or not to just look at however asked that question, and privately wonder if the person can read since all my documents are in front of them. If I didn't think I was a good fit, had the qualifications, experience, etc necessary and the proof of that in front of em in print ... I wouldn't be there. I'm as likely as not (and have) to answer that question by saying something like, "Ummm, I have the qualifications and experience you said you were looking for, I think I can do the job well enough to earn my pay. We're here talking because at this point it's YOUR decision to make as to whether or not I'm a good fit for your company. I either am, or I am not. That's what I here to find out from YOU." If you're expecting me to toot my own horn, posture, crow about myself, tell yah I'm better than any other choice you can make ... forget it. Not gonna happen. I don't play those games. Besides, it wouldn't be honest. I don't think of myself as better than anyone. My mind doesn't even work that way. If I'm there in front of an interviewer, I'm simply thinking I can do the job, well. Or at least adequately, and can and will learn to do it well. Period. I'll assert or promise no more than that. When yah get me, IF yah get me, all I'll promise is my best efforts. And if I can't live up to the expectations ... yah won't have to worry about firing me because I'll quit. I don't take money that I don't feel that I've well earned.

cynic 53
cynic 53

"Where do you see yourself in (X number) of years time?" I feel like either saying "Dead!" or "How the hell do I know, ask God!". A no-win question as if one gives too ambitious an answer one can be flagged up as either a know-it-all or a threat to the interviewer. Give a more cautious answer and they may mark you down as being too dull. I wish they would stick to the job for which you are act actually being interviewed or make it clear in the Job advert that they expect the successful applicant to "Grow the Job". Interviewers ought to realise that not everyone is a high flyer who wishes to be CIO or even CEO of that company and that any business requires far more Indians than Chiefs.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

I hate that question. Something about it makes me cringe. I'm honest and usually don't give myself enough credit. I'll usually take 7 or 8 but never a 9 or 10. I wonder what managers think of that during an interview?

dharmendra.sap
dharmendra.sap

What's your biggest weakness? -> Interviewer knows nobody is telling you weakness, then there is no use of such smartness. Where do you see yourself in three years? -> Nobody will hear high ambitious statement, however, they need most talented. one of the irritating question. Why do you think you would be a good fit for our company? -> Let interviewer should decide why do they ask?? Everyone is here to be best fitted in company.

Maevinn
Maevinn

Biggest weakness is annoying, mostly because it's such an obvious cop. Interviewer wants to make sure you look at yourself critically, but doesn't give you the opening to show real growth. Better to ask When have you failed and how did you fix it, IMO. Still shows I don't think I'm invincible, without putting me in the negative corner. Three years...Heh. I'm a military spouse, so three years, I'm probably not going to be here. I'm honest about it, but a lot of companies don't like that answer. Being a good fit? I shouldn't be a good fit. If a company is niche focused, they're stagnant, and not looking to grow. I want my employers to be growing too!

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

There is nothing worse. Not only can you not answer this succinctly, but it requires a fair bit of explanation as to why it is so. For example. I could say my biggest weakness is that Crom requires a virgin sacrifice every friday at noon. This requires a fair bit of explanation and a long portion of my life that I'll never get back. I'd rather they ask something like: "You are working with someone with people skill deficiency. How do you approach them when they say something completely out of turn?" As for the rest: "Where do you see yourself in three years?" Meh, it's fairly straight forward and depends on the position. "Why do you think you would be a good fit for our company?" This is an impossible question, but it's easy to answer.

Wick Tech
Wick Tech

I got zinged on the "5 year plan" in an interview (although I got the job). I was applying for a tech position, and said, since I had Network+ cert that I was thinking about Network Admin. The interviewer said, "well, we don't have that position here." (rather gruffly I might add, although, now that I know him, that's really just his standard self.) So, I said since I didn't know the structure of the place, I couldn't say anything more specific. Luckily, he already liked a couple other answers, and he was not the only decision maker. Several years later, I'm still here. (And I think we're all happy.)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If was desperate for the role, I'd try to guess the answer they wanted. If I wasn't I'd simply walk out on the spot. These questions are for thimble brains, who obviously can't be bothered to their job properly. What is my biggest weakness? Most of the time I don't care enough to lie.

jhnhth
jhnhth

Conventional wisdom says that you need to answer this question or interviewers think you are being evasive. When I do job search training I tell candidates to research the job and its requirements and find something that is not required. In my own case, answers I have given include saying I don't know how to use MS Access for a job where I knew I would never need it. On another occasion I said my biggest weakness was not knowing a second language, again would never be needed in the job but the way I explained it made it sound like it was something I felt I needed in this modern world. I got the job! One candidate on one of my courses told an interviewer her greatest weakness was Chocolate! She got away with it and got the job. Not an answer I would recommend unless you knew the interviewer(s) and they had a sense of humour!

chilipepperwoman
chilipepperwoman

Asking questions shows you're engaged and looking for a good "fit" rather than just looking for a paycheck. Never, ever ask about benefits, lunch breaks, etc. Instead, I want to know about the corporate culture (is fun encouraged along with hard work?), what is it that you want this position (not person) to accomplish for the organization, and where do YOU see the company in five years. Knowing what THEY want this position to do has been very helpful for me in avoiding jobs where I know I would be unhappy (and they with me).

Maevinn
Maevinn

I try to take notes, and formulate some specific questions. Dress policy, food policies, building protocols, where they see the position going, where did the previous person move on to, etc, insurance coverage, mediation policies, goodness. I bring a check list of things I want specific answers for, and go through it before I walk out the door.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Have I said anything that has put you off? Gives them a chance to chuck their biggest doubt on the table. Don't leave without addressing it one way or the other. It's a good question all by itself, and a good answer to this one as well.

starbuck32169
starbuck32169

just in case you're interviewed by a golfer, you should know that (unless you're left handed) a hook goes to the LEFT!

ardavidsonjr
ardavidsonjr

If I were hiring, you would be my kind of employee!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

campaign is succeeding beyond his wildest expectations. oops :D

dmilesnc
dmilesnc

Adaptive. Shows success, dependability and flexibility. Addresses both charactor and performance. Dependable would be my second choice as it speaks of positive responces without regard specific circumstance.

dmilesnc
dmilesnc

I see this question as a real opportunity to show ambition, flexibility, and portability of my skillset/experience. You could reply to the question by stating something like "My understanding of this company is that its success lies within its ability to adapt to meet the changing requirements of its customers, and is not a static entity like a puzzle, but more like a vehicle driving toward the customer's need. As I'm in that vehicle, I can change the tire if you need me to. I can fill it up with gas. I can be a lookout to chances in the customer's direction. Sometimes, if given the opportunity, I can even drive." Of course, by the time I finish that sentence, I might be in the parking lot as it is a little long-winded. But, I think you get the point.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is to find out whether you are on message enough to BS an acceptable answer? Given how unlikely it is, that my personal philosophy and business' are in tune, generally I just settle for them not lying about how great the disconnect is.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I don't know, yet.... Always a bad answer to the first two, and not the one they want for the last one.

kmoore
kmoore

Maybe you should learn how to spell asinine.

Maevinn
Maevinn

Focusing on the moment, the now. It's a good thing. :)

chilipepperwoman
chilipepperwoman

The answer really puts you on a scale between arrogant and incompetent, with "under-confident" in between!

starbuck32169
starbuck32169

sounds like a reasonable answer to 'weakness' i was thinking along the lines of cheetos..

stevieg
stevieg

Good ones! Some day on an interview I am going to respond to this highly disliked question by saying "My greatest weakness, I think, is not realizing that some days it is simply not worth chewing through my restraints." Followed by wordless exist. bye, s

merrid
merrid

Yes, and the answer is "it depends". It is if it's a genuinely difficult problem, anwyay.

eM DuBYaH
eM DuBYaH

I know to to spell, I fat fingered, and unless you never fat finger a word by accident, why don't you pull your head out of your backside. I slipped and dropped an "S". You and everyone else understands what I meant to type. What's your point with a snide comment like that? Does it add to the discussion? No. If you don't have an opinion to contribute that's on the topic, then kindly stuff it. Cheers!

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

It's almost either way you answer; you fail in some measure! Hehe, oh the little head games people play. It's never enough that your qualified or over-qualified for the job. When your looking for one all you can think about is "I just want a chance to get in".

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

bit of a mistype. There is always AT least one right answer to a technical question. If you want to see a non-technical type frown hard enough to permanently crumple up their face, just answer it depends, they do not want to hear that.