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HR 101 – Some Strange Interview Questions

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements

It was with great amusement that I read (and I must say absolutely enjoyed) an article that I received from “Job search clinic on behalf of Gerard Le Roux”, entitled “3 dumb questions & a Bruce Lee quote.”

I was more than amused to find one of the questions that I always ask on there, although I am somewhat confused as to why it was classed as a dumb question. Quite frankly, I don’t see it as such, but perhaps I should let you in on it – the question of course is “Why should we hire you instead of the other candidate?”

Oh come now – how could that possibly be a dumb question? I guess it would have to do something with the ‘intent’ behind the question.

You see for me, it’s about what you, as the candidate, think that you can give me, or do, or be, that is better than or bigger than what you think that the other candidates can give me, or do, or be. It’s about how you see yourself, whether you are different or the same as others.

In terms of this particular article though, if you as the candidate even attempted to answer the question, you would immediately be disqualified because . . . wait for it . . . because you would be ‘trying to answer without the facts. How can you possibly compare yourself with people you’ve never met and know nothing about?”

Now that for me is just being difficult and trying to trip people up or be ‘clever’ at someone else’s expense.

The other two questions in the article are really strange – the first one being “If you were a shoe, what kind would you be?” and the second one being “Tell me about a time when you . . . ? I guess for the first question, if you were intent on being in the fashion industry or it was a job to do with say colour it may have some kind of meaning and for the second question, I suppose if you were doing something that required instant use of your imagination it might have some sort of meaning, but for the average ‘Joe Public’ I can’t imagine what the right answer would be. I think if I had ever been asked a question like that, as an Internal Auditor, I might have decided that that particular company was more than a little strange and whilst I do have a number of eccentric friends, working for an eccentric company would be altogether a novel idea.

So why am I telling you about these questions? I promise it is not just to raise a smile, but also to let you know to expect the unexpected as well as the sometimes bizarre. They may very well just be checking to see if you have a good sense of humour, nothing more.

On the other hand however, they may be checking to see how you handle difficult situations or situations ‘out of the norm’ or even how you solve or find solutions to things outside of your comfort zone. So don’t be flippant when you respond.

Oh yes – and the Bruce Lee quote was “The successful warrior is the average person with laser like focus.”