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Has a Job Candidate Ever Stumped You? Tell Us for the Chance to Win an iPod Nano!

We’ve all heard stories about “difficult” interview questions. Rarely, however, do those stories focus on the interviewer, so…For our latest “We Ask, You Win” contest, The Hiring Site is asking you to share with us: Has a job candidate ever asked you a question that you found particularly difficult to answer? 

  • Perhaps, for example, a candidate asked a question that threw you off-guard and made you change the way you prepare yourself or your team for interviews…
  • Or maybe a candidate asked about something you never would have thought would be important to them (like your corporate social responsibility or green initiatives), thus making you rethink how you sell your company to job candidates…
  • Or perhaps a candidate asked about something your company didn’t currently offer (like a certain benefit), that you had never considered before…

Whether you didn’t know the answer, didn’t know how to answer, or perhaps you knew that the answer wasn’t what the candidate wanted to hear…We want to hear from you to tell us the question, how you handled it and, most importantly, what you learned from the experience.

By sharing your experiences of how you handled a difficult interview question – or how you later wish you’d answered it – you will be helping your fellow hiring managers and recruiters…

  • Prepare better for the interview process
  • Gain a better understanding of what potential employees want in employer
  • Enhance your overall recruiting process

And just to sweeten the deal….Just by telling us how a job candidate “stumped” you – and the lesson that came out of it – you’ll automatically be entered for the chance to win a 5th Generation iPod Nano.

(Free advice and the chance to win a new toy? Doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.)

How to enter:
Simply answer this question – “What interview question from a job seeker has ever stumped you, and how did it change the way you think about your company’s recruitment process?”– in the comments section below, and you’ll automatically be entered to win a brand new 5th Generation iPod Nano.  (Feel free to post anonymously, too. It won’t hurt your chances to win – so long as you abide by the terms and conditions.)

Contest details:
Entries will be accepted from 12:00 a.m. CST on Monday, April 19, 2010 until 11:59 p.m. CST on Friday, April 23, 2010.  Each account may only submit one answer for consideration; subsequent entries will not be considered. Spam responses will not be considered. The winner will be picked at random and notified via e-mail the week of April 26, 2010. Please read the full list of official contest rules and regulations.

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
88 comments
Angie
Angie

I've since had this question numerous times, but the first time a candidate asked me to describe our corporate culture, that stumped me - I just wasn't prepared for the question. I went on to describe our corporate culture to that candidate, but have also taken the time to really think about how to communicate our corporate culture to future candidates.

Angie
Angie

I've since had this question numerous times, but the first time a candidate asked me to describe our corporate culture, that stumped me - I just wasn't prepared for the question. I went on to describe our corporate culture to that candidate, but have also taken the time to really think about how to communicate our corporate culture to future candidates.

Joy Senn
Joy Senn

I am the lead interviewer for my organization. I have been trying to decide which of my many crazy episodes to share. While I was interviewing today I came across an interesting candidate. The candidate was one of those people who think they know everything and looked bothered when we ask questions about their experience. From the beginning of the interview this gentlemen was arrogant and evasive.It was like pulling teeth to get him to address a question head on. It was at the end of the interivew when I inquired about his salary requirements that he really let loose. I asked him what salary range he was looking at and he responded with asking me what were we going to offer. I told him that an offer would be made at the next interview level. He again evaded the question and told me that the job posting for this job was more technical than the title and should be paid accordingly. I told him that I had written the job description and that it was comparable to other jobs in the industry. He told me that I needed to check my facts. I thought I was going to loose it. I explained to him that this job is what it is and that we are looking for someone who fits into that category. He told me that if I want incompetent, unreliable employees then I can stick to that job posting; stating that I will get what I pay for. To top it all off his experience was not in the field we were looking for.

I would think in this day and time people would understand that there are 50 (or more) people for every job and that the intangibles and behaviors during an interview matter. Consequently I will not be forwarding this candidate.

Joy Senn
Joy Senn

I am the lead interviewer for my organization. I have been trying to decide which of my many crazy episodes to share. While I was interviewing today I came across an interesting candidate. The candidate was one of those people who think they know everything and looked bothered when we ask questions about their experience. From the beginning of the interview this gentlemen was arrogant and evasive.It was like pulling teeth to get him to address a question head on. It was at the end of the interivew when I inquired about his salary requirements that he really let loose. I asked him what salary range he was looking at and he responded with asking me what were we going to offer. I told him that an offer would be made at the next interview level. He again evaded the question and told me that the job posting for this job was more technical than the title and should be paid accordingly. I told him that I had written the job description and that it was comparable to other jobs in the industry. He told me that I needed to check my facts. I thought I was going to loose it. I explained to him that this job is what it is and that we are looking for someone who fits into that category. He told me that if I want incompetent, unreliable employees then I can stick to that job posting; stating that I will get what I pay for. To top it all off his experience was not in the field we were looking for.

I would think in this day and time people would understand that there are 50 (or more) people for every job and that the intangibles and behaviors during an interview matter. Consequently I will not be forwarding this candidate.

Joy Senn
Joy Senn

I am the lead interviewer for my organization. I have been trying to decide which of my many crazy episodes to share. While I was interviewing today I came across an interesting candidate. The candidate was one of those people who think they know everything and looked bothered when we ask questions about their experience. From the beginning of the interview this gentlemen was arrogant and evasive.It was like pulling teeth to get him to address a question head on. It was at the end of the interivew when I inquired about his salary requirements that he really let loose. I asked him what salary range he was looking at and he responded with asking me what were we going to offer. I told him that an offer would be made at the next interview level. He again evaded the question and told me that the job posting for this job was more technical than the title and should be paid accordingly. I told him that I had written the job description and that it was comparable to other jobs in the industry. He told me that I needed to check my facts. I thought I was going to loose it. I explained to him that this job is what it is and that we are looking for someone who fits into that category. He told me that if I want incompetent, unreliable employees then I can stick to that job posting; stating that I will get what I pay for. To top it all off his experience was not in the field we were looking for. I would think in this day and time people would understand that there are 50 (or more) people for every job and that the intangibles and behaviors during an interview matter. Consequently I will not be forwarding this candidate.

Gretchen Bennett
Gretchen Bennett

I once interviewed a candidate for a call center customer service position, and she literally did not say a word in the interview! Not one word! I asked her a few questions, and she would only nod or grunt! I smiled and said "I know interviewing can be a nerve-wracking process.. I just want to get to know you a little bit, and hear about some of your previous work experiences.." She nodded, and I asked "According to your resume, it looks like your last position was with ABC corp?" She nodded, and I waited a few seconds. I said "tell me a little bit about your experience there".. She literally just looked at the floor. I tried again, saying "Just generally speaking, what were some of the tasks you did as a customer service representative on a typical day?" Again, she looked at the floor.. Finally after a few minutes I thanked her for her time, walked her to the reception area and shook her hand." Needless to say, she did not get the job! (And yes, I did a phone screen before she came in, which went fine! At least I assume it was actually her that I talked to on the phone!)

Gretchen Bennett
Gretchen Bennett

I once interviewed a candidate for a call center customer service position, and she literally did not say a word in the interview! Not one word! I asked her a few questions, and she would only nod or grunt! I smiled and said "I know interviewing can be a nerve-wracking process.. I just want to get to know you a little bit, and hear about some of your previous work experiences.." She nodded, and I asked "According to your resume, it looks like your last position was with ABC corp?" She nodded, and I waited a few seconds. I said "tell me a little bit about your experience there".. She literally just looked at the floor. I tried again, saying "Just generally speaking, what were some of the tasks you did as a customer service representative on a typical day?" Again, she looked at the floor.. Finally after a few minutes I thanked her for her time, walked her to the reception area and shook her hand." Needless to say, she did not get the job! (And yes, I did a phone screen before she came in, which went fine! At least I assume it was actually her that I talked to on the phone!)

Gretchen Bennett
Gretchen Bennett

I once interviewed a candidate for a call center customer service position, and she literally did not say a word in the interview! Not one word! I asked her a few questions, and she would only nod or grunt! I smiled and said "I know interviewing can be a nerve-wracking process.. I just want to get to know you a little bit, and hear about some of your previous work experiences.." She nodded, and I asked "According to your resume, it looks like your last position was with ABC corp?" She nodded, and I waited a few seconds. I said "tell me a little bit about your experience there".. She literally just looked at the floor. I tried again, saying "Just generally speaking, what were some of the tasks you did as a customer service representative on a typical day?" Again, she looked at the floor.. Finally after a few minutes I thanked her for her time, walked her to the reception area and shook her hand." Needless to say, she did not get the job! (And yes, I did a phone screen before she came in, which went fine! At least I assume it was actually her that I talked to on the phone!)

Janice
Janice

During an interview for a sales position a candidate wanted to know why I wasn't a Sales Representative (Agent) for the company. I was stumped at first but then said with great confidence " I AM a sales representative; every time I interview a candidate, I'm selling the company." I am the first person that has the opportunity to make a good impression on every person who walks in the door for their interview. Besides, I do such a great job as a Recruiter, it would be difficult to replace me! We both had a chuckle after that and I kept his interest the duration of the interview.

Janice
Janice

During an interview for a sales position a candidate wanted to know why I wasn't a Sales Representative (Agent) for the company. I was stumped at first but then said with great confidence " I AM a sales representative; every time I interview a candidate, I'm selling the company." I am the first person that has the opportunity to make a good impression on every person who walks in the door for their interview. Besides, I do such a great job as a Recruiter, it would be difficult to replace me! We both had a chuckle after that and I kept his interest the duration of the interview.

Janice
Janice

During an interview for a sales position a candidate wanted to know why I wasn't a Sales Representative (Agent) for the company. I was stumped at first but then said with great confidence " I AM a sales representative; every time I interview a candidate, I'm selling the company." I am the first person that has the opportunity to make a good impression on every person who walks in the door for their interview. Besides, I do such a great job as a Recruiter, it would be difficult to replace me! We both had a chuckle after that and I kept his interest the duration of the interview.

Nicholas J. Grippi
Nicholas J. Grippi

I've been interviewing people for my company for 25 years now. About a year ago an applicant asked the following 3 part question. I trust I will do the question justice by remembering his exact words.
First Part
The Applicant:
How many years have you worked for Strauss Auto?
The Interviewer (me):
Jim, I not sure if I understood the question. You want to know how many years I've worked in this company?
The Applicant:
Yes!
Interviewer:
I coming up on my 24th anniversary in June.
Second Part
The Applicant:
Do you feel harassment prevention was an intricate and crucial part of a managers responsibility in your company 24 years ago?
Interviewers Answer:
Yes. (That's all I said. I was hoping to find my answer to be incomplete, so the applicant would ask me to explain my response.)
Third Part
The Applicant:
Based on 2 decades of litigation, do you find harassment prevention to be more crucial today than what it once was 24 years ago?
Interviewer:
(My answer was not what I think he expected.)
Absolutely not! To those of us that practice leadership. The continual act of being fair, square and legal, was always and is still always a principle that we with authority must execute. You see... 24 years ago the company issued me a position as a manager which gives me authority. But leadership; getting people to want to follow you is the by-product of treating people the way you wish to be treated. But don't misunderstand! Being the leader doesn't mean you will be liked. Being the leader means you will be respected.
(The applicant just looked at me and didn't say a word. After a few seconds, I asked him what is his next question. He didn't have one. We concluded the interview on a positive note. I walked him through the store towards the exit. We shook hands. "End of story"
CORRECT: I didn't hire the applicant.
But there are measurable specific reasons for my decision and that's a story for another time.
Thanks... It was fun remembering the funny sometimes scary moments in my carer here in Strauss Auto.
Regards,
Nick

Nicholas J. Grippi
Nicholas J. Grippi

I've been interviewing people for my company for 25 years now. About a year ago an applicant asked the following 3 part question. I trust I will do the question justice by remembering his exact words.
First Part
The Applicant:
How many years have you worked for Strauss Auto?
The Interviewer (me):
Jim, I not sure if I understood the question. You want to know how many years I've worked in this company?
The Applicant:
Yes!
Interviewer:
I coming up on my 24th anniversary in June.
Second Part
The Applicant:
Do you feel harassment prevention was an intricate and crucial part of a managers responsibility in your company 24 years ago?
Interviewers Answer:
Yes. (That's all I said. I was hoping to find my answer to be incomplete, so the applicant would ask me to explain my response.)
Third Part
The Applicant:
Based on 2 decades of litigation, do you find harassment prevention to be more crucial today than what it once was 24 years ago?
Interviewer:
(My answer was not what I think he expected.)
Absolutely not! To those of us that practice leadership. The continual act of being fair, square and legal, was always and is still always a principle that we with authority must execute. You see... 24 years ago the company issued me a position as a manager which gives me authority. But leadership; getting people to want to follow you is the by-product of treating people the way you wish to be treated. But don't misunderstand! Being the leader doesn't mean you will be liked. Being the leader means you will be respected.
(The applicant just looked at me and didn't say a word. After a few seconds, I asked him what is his next question. He didn't have one. We concluded the interview on a positive note. I walked him through the store towards the exit. We shook hands. "End of story"
CORRECT: I didn't hire the applicant.
But there are measurable specific reasons for my decision and that's a story for another time.
Thanks... It was fun remembering the funny sometimes scary moments in my carer here in Strauss Auto.
Regards,
Nick

Nicholas J. Grippi
Nicholas J. Grippi

I've been interviewing people for my company for 25 years now. About a year ago an applicant asked the following 3 part question. I trust I will do the question justice by remembering his exact words. First Part The Applicant: How many years have you worked for Strauss Auto? The Interviewer (me): Jim, I not sure if I understood the question. You want to know how many years I've worked in this company? The Applicant: Yes! Interviewer: I coming up on my 24th anniversary in June. Second Part The Applicant: Do you feel harassment prevention was an intricate and crucial part of a managers responsibility in your company 24 years ago? Interviewers Answer: Yes. (That's all I said. I was hoping to find my answer to be incomplete, so the applicant would ask me to explain my response.) Third Part The Applicant: Based on 2 decades of litigation, do you find harassment prevention to be more crucial today than what it once was 24 years ago? Interviewer: (My answer was not what I think he expected.) Absolutely not! To those of us that practice leadership. The continual act of being fair, square and legal, was always and is still always a principle that we with authority must execute. You see... 24 years ago the company issued me a position as a manager which gives me authority. But leadership; getting people to want to follow you is the by-product of treating people the way you wish to be treated. But don't misunderstand! Being the leader doesn't mean you will be liked. Being the leader means you will be respected. (The applicant just looked at me and didn't say a word. After a few seconds, I asked him what is his next question. He didn't have one. We concluded the interview on a positive note. I walked him through the store towards the exit. We shook hands. "End of story" CORRECT: I didn't hire the applicant. But there are measurable specific reasons for my decision and that's a story for another time. Thanks... It was fun remembering the funny sometimes scary moments in my carer here in Strauss Auto. Regards, Nick

James
James

At the end of an interview for a sales position, a candidate asked "what are the specific steps you as my manager take to ensure my success in this position and what are your procedures for preparing for my termination if I'm not". Needless to say I was taken aback. Most people looking to get hired don't ask what MY role in their position is and definitely not what the firing process is. It created great dialogue around my accountability practices and my overall goals for my teams performance. I've learned that interiews (especially for sales positions) need to include detailed expectations for success and "how" the candidate will be held accountable for that success so that he/she knows exactly what will be expected of them should they get the job.

James
James

At the end of an interview for a sales position, a candidate asked "what are the specific steps you as my manager take to ensure my success in this position and what are your procedures for preparing for my termination if I'm not". Needless to say I was taken aback. Most people looking to get hired don't ask what MY role in their position is and definitely not what the firing process is. It created great dialogue around my accountability practices and my overall goals for my teams performance. I've learned that interiews (especially for sales positions) need to include detailed expectations for success and "how" the candidate will be held accountable for that success so that he/she knows exactly what will be expected of them should they get the job.

James
James

At the end of an interview for a sales position, a candidate asked "what are the specific steps you as my manager take to ensure my success in this position and what are your procedures for preparing for my termination if I'm not". Needless to say I was taken aback. Most people looking to get hired don't ask what MY role in their position is and definitely not what the firing process is. It created great dialogue around my accountability practices and my overall goals for my teams performance. I've learned that interiews (especially for sales positions) need to include detailed expectations for success and "how" the candidate will be held accountable for that success so that he/she knows exactly what will be expected of them should they get the job.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I had a candidate ask me why nobody that works at my company is happy. The bluntness of the question caught me off guard. I asked for some clarification to decipher what he had heard. Once I had the facts, I was able to explain the reasons he had heard what he had. Some of the specific issues, I verified through the manager to make certain I better understood the specific day to day requirements to better respond to such questions in the future.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I had a candidate ask me why nobody that works at my company is happy. The bluntness of the question caught me off guard. I asked for some clarification to decipher what he had heard. Once I had the facts, I was able to explain the reasons he had heard what he had. Some of the specific issues, I verified through the manager to make certain I better understood the specific day to day requirements to better respond to such questions in the future.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I had a candidate ask me why nobody that works at my company is happy. The bluntness of the question caught me off guard. I asked for some clarification to decipher what he had heard. Once I had the facts, I was able to explain the reasons he had heard what he had. Some of the specific issues, I verified through the manager to make certain I better understood the specific day to day requirements to better respond to such questions in the future.

Brett
Brett

I work for a small company that is privately owned... upon interviewing for a new position, the 'lead' candidate ask, "What do you do if he (the owner) dies?"... pretty blunt, but smart question... this individual was thinking long term and was concerned about the company's viability should he be hired... made me start to think - we prep for a lot of things like talking salary & benefts because we think about what we'd want to know... but you never know who's sitting on the other side of the desk and what their wants/needs are...

Brett
Brett

I work for a small company that is privately owned... upon interviewing for a new position, the 'lead' candidate ask, "What do you do if he (the owner) dies?"... pretty blunt, but smart question... this individual was thinking long term and was concerned about the company's viability should he be hired... made me start to think - we prep for a lot of things like talking salary & benefts because we think about what we'd want to know... but you never know who's sitting on the other side of the desk and what their wants/needs are...

Brett
Brett

I work for a small company that is privately owned... upon interviewing for a new position, the 'lead' candidate ask, "What do you do if he (the owner) dies?"... pretty blunt, but smart question... this individual was thinking long term and was concerned about the company's viability should he be hired... made me start to think - we prep for a lot of things like talking salary & benefts because we think about what we'd want to know... but you never know who's sitting on the other side of the desk and what their wants/needs are...

Anonymous
Anonymous

The toughest question I have ever been asked was:

Can I bring my dog with me to work so that I have assistance with a disability, specifically a hearing impairment?

I had never heard of someone using a dog to help with "hearing", and especially in the work place. This raised a lot of questions with our company that had not been considered because we had other employees with hearing impairment who did not request accomodations for their disability. Legal counsel was consulted and they raised the question as well does someone who cannot hear well need any special accomodations to perform this job? Would a "hearing" assistance dog be an acceptable option? The candidate raised the issue of an emergency, such as a fire or evacuation being a reason for having the dog at work. Our company had a comprehensive safety/evacuation plan, and a designated floor captain so we felt that with the floor captain being aware of any employee who needed additional assistance in the case of an emergency, the person would not need the "Hearing" dog. In the end the candidate was not one of the individuals selected for a final interview, and the hiring manager was never told of the request so he had no bias against this disability. Our HR department did think it was strange that the person was able to make and receive phone calls and did not bring the "Hearing" dog to the first interview.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The toughest question I have ever been asked was:

Can I bring my dog with me to work so that I have assistance with a disability, specifically a hearing impairment?

I had never heard of someone using a dog to help with "hearing", and especially in the work place. This raised a lot of questions with our company that had not been considered because we had other employees with hearing impairment who did not request accomodations for their disability. Legal counsel was consulted and they raised the question as well does someone who cannot hear well need any special accomodations to perform this job? Would a "hearing" assistance dog be an acceptable option? The candidate raised the issue of an emergency, such as a fire or evacuation being a reason for having the dog at work. Our company had a comprehensive safety/evacuation plan, and a designated floor captain so we felt that with the floor captain being aware of any employee who needed additional assistance in the case of an emergency, the person would not need the "Hearing" dog. In the end the candidate was not one of the individuals selected for a final interview, and the hiring manager was never told of the request so he had no bias against this disability. Our HR department did think it was strange that the person was able to make and receive phone calls and did not bring the "Hearing" dog to the first interview.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The toughest question I have ever been asked was: Can I bring my dog with me to work so that I have assistance with a disability, specifically a hearing impairment? I had never heard of someone using a dog to help with "hearing", and especially in the work place. This raised a lot of questions with our company that had not been considered because we had other employees with hearing impairment who did not request accomodations for their disability. Legal counsel was consulted and they raised the question as well does someone who cannot hear well need any special accomodations to perform this job? Would a "hearing" assistance dog be an acceptable option? The candidate raised the issue of an emergency, such as a fire or evacuation being a reason for having the dog at work. Our company had a comprehensive safety/evacuation plan, and a designated floor captain so we felt that with the floor captain being aware of any employee who needed additional assistance in the case of an emergency, the person would not need the "Hearing" dog. In the end the candidate was not one of the individuals selected for a final interview, and the hiring manager was never told of the request so he had no bias against this disability. Our HR department did think it was strange that the person was able to make and receive phone calls and did not bring the "Hearing" dog to the first interview.

C S
C S

I was recently screening candidates for a Maintenance worker. During conversations with the hiring supervisor, he told me he needed someone with commercial electrical repair experience. One candidate asked me very techincal questions about the electrical inner workings of our facility and I had to admit that I did not know the answer to most of his questions. I went home that night, asked my husband those same questions and felt much better prepared to field future questions.

C S
C S

I was recently screening candidates for a Maintenance worker. During conversations with the hiring supervisor, he told me he needed someone with commercial electrical repair experience. One candidate asked me very techincal questions about the electrical inner workings of our facility and I had to admit that I did not know the answer to most of his questions. I went home that night, asked my husband those same questions and felt much better prepared to field future questions.

C S
C S

I was recently screening candidates for a Maintenance worker. During conversations with the hiring supervisor, he told me he needed someone with commercial electrical repair experience. One candidate asked me very techincal questions about the electrical inner workings of our facility and I had to admit that I did not know the answer to most of his questions. I went home that night, asked my husband those same questions and felt much better prepared to field future questions.

NL
NL

After interviewing a potential candidate for a receptionist position, I asked her if she had any questions for me about the position or our company. The first few questions were generic: compensation, benefits, longevity, etc. Then, she completely stumped me.

She asked me, "When it comes to your company's corporate culture and management style, do you align more with Deming's Z, McGregor's X, or his Y and what examples can you give me to support that?"

I stared at her blankly for what seemed like an eternity...not sure how to respond. Then we talked about our company's management, employee morale, and how we operated.

She then went to ask, "Why should I accept an offer to work for this company? Obviously, you're not Google with candidates sending you flowers, balloon telegrams, or banging on your door to get in. So what's in it for me?"

At this point, I was appalled! I ended the interview and led her out. She was actually one of the top 3 candidates that I was considering; until that happened. I thought to myself afterwards that this is a very entry level receptionist position and I couldn't believe that she went to those extremes to leave an impression on me. To say nonetheless, we did NOT hire her. That's what was in it for her.

NL
NL

After interviewing a potential candidate for a receptionist position, I asked her if she had any questions for me about the position or our company. The first few questions were generic: compensation, benefits, longevity, etc. Then, she completely stumped me.

She asked me, "When it comes to your company's corporate culture and management style, do you align more with Deming's Z, McGregor's X, or his Y and what examples can you give me to support that?"

I stared at her blankly for what seemed like an eternity...not sure how to respond. Then we talked about our company's management, employee morale, and how we operated.

She then went to ask, "Why should I accept an offer to work for this company? Obviously, you're not Google with candidates sending you flowers, balloon telegrams, or banging on your door to get in. So what's in it for me?"

At this point, I was appalled! I ended the interview and led her out. She was actually one of the top 3 candidates that I was considering; until that happened. I thought to myself afterwards that this is a very entry level receptionist position and I couldn't believe that she went to those extremes to leave an impression on me. To say nonetheless, we did NOT hire her. That's what was in it for her.

NL
NL

After interviewing a potential candidate for a receptionist position, I asked her if she had any questions for me about the position or our company. The first few questions were generic: compensation, benefits, longevity, etc. Then, she completely stumped me. She asked me, "When it comes to your company's corporate culture and management style, do you align more with Deming's Z, McGregor's X, or his Y and what examples can you give me to support that?" I stared at her blankly for what seemed like an eternity...not sure how to respond. Then we talked about our company's management, employee morale, and how we operated. She then went to ask, "Why should I accept an offer to work for this company? Obviously, you're not Google with candidates sending you flowers, balloon telegrams, or banging on your door to get in. So what's in it for me?" At this point, I was appalled! I ended the interview and led her out. She was actually one of the top 3 candidates that I was considering; until that happened. I thought to myself afterwards that this is a very entry level receptionist position and I couldn't believe that she went to those extremes to leave an impression on me. To say nonetheless, we did NOT hire her. That's what was in it for her.

Dick Larkin
Dick Larkin

I was once asked by a candidate about what our plan was for in the event of a terrorist attack or nuclear bomb.

I should mention that we publish community Yellow Pages directories in small towns in the Midwest.

I smiled and said that he should grab his sales materials and get to where people are huddled. While they're waiting for rescue, he should sell everybody ads.

He said that I misunderstood the question.

He wanted to know if he would be paid for time out of the field if there was a terrorist attack.

He didn't get the job.

Dick Larkin
Dick Larkin

I was once asked by a candidate about what our plan was for in the event of a terrorist attack or nuclear bomb.

I should mention that we publish community Yellow Pages directories in small towns in the Midwest.

I smiled and said that he should grab his sales materials and get to where people are huddled. While they're waiting for rescue, he should sell everybody ads.

He said that I misunderstood the question.

He wanted to know if he would be paid for time out of the field if there was a terrorist attack.

He didn't get the job.

Dick Larkin
Dick Larkin

I was once asked by a candidate about what our plan was for in the event of a terrorist attack or nuclear bomb. I should mention that we publish community Yellow Pages directories in small towns in the Midwest. I smiled and said that he should grab his sales materials and get to where people are huddled. While they're waiting for rescue, he should sell everybody ads. He said that I misunderstood the question. He wanted to know if he would be paid for time out of the field if there was a terrorist attack. He didn't get the job.

Christina Thais
Christina Thais

Yesterday, I had a candidate ask me the mission statement of our company. I just started working for my company 4 months ago and I honestly couldn't remember. I was scrambling on our website to find it and luckily as I located it, the candidate began to read it to me. I was so embarrassed! Thank goodness, it was a phone interview and not an in-person!

I have now memorized the mission statement, values and other important information about our company. I will be prepared next time that question comes up in an interview!

Christina Thais
Christina Thais

Yesterday, I had a candidate ask me the mission statement of our company. I just started working for my company 4 months ago and I honestly couldn't remember. I was scrambling on our website to find it and luckily as I located it, the candidate began to read it to me. I was so embarrassed! Thank goodness, it was a phone interview and not an in-person!

I have now memorized the mission statement, values and other important information about our company. I will be prepared next time that question comes up in an interview!

Christina Thais
Christina Thais

Yesterday, I had a candidate ask me the mission statement of our company. I just started working for my company 4 months ago and I honestly couldn't remember. I was scrambling on our website to find it and luckily as I located it, the candidate began to read it to me. I was so embarrassed! Thank goodness, it was a phone interview and not an in-person! I have now memorized the mission statement, values and other important information about our company. I will be prepared next time that question comes up in an interview!

Darren
Darren

Over my thirty-year career, candidates have posed thoughtful and challenging questions that helped shape the talent management process. A question that has always stayed with me, one that made me simultaneously recoil and rejoice, was "What do I need to do to get your job, how will you help me accomplish that goal, and how long will it take." My initial answer included "Within your lines of authority, act like you already have my job" and "I will make certain you are clear on your decision-making authority, and depending on where I can add value, I promise to either stay out of your way or clear away hurdles preventing our success." As for how long it will take, "We'll see."

Interestingly, I have found that the answer to the question tends to change over time, as talent, portfolio and growth strategies change and especially as the role of the Manager has continued to evolve from a operational role to a Leadership role. Today, my answer would include the notion of "courageous leadership", "transparency and honesty" and "ability to make unpopular decisions."

Darren
Darren

Over my thirty-year career, candidates have posed thoughtful and challenging questions that helped shape the talent management process. A question that has always stayed with me, one that made me simultaneously recoil and rejoice, was "What do I need to do to get your job, how will you help me accomplish that goal, and how long will it take." My initial answer included "Within your lines of authority, act like you already have my job" and "I will make certain you are clear on your decision-making authority, and depending on where I can add value, I promise to either stay out of your way or clear away hurdles preventing our success." As for how long it will take, "We'll see."

Interestingly, I have found that the answer to the question tends to change over time, as talent, portfolio and growth strategies change and especially as the role of the Manager has continued to evolve from a operational role to a Leadership role. Today, my answer would include the notion of "courageous leadership", "transparency and honesty" and "ability to make unpopular decisions."

Darren
Darren

Over my thirty-year career, candidates have posed thoughtful and challenging questions that helped shape the talent management process. A question that has always stayed with me, one that made me simultaneously recoil and rejoice, was "What do I need to do to get your job, how will you help me accomplish that goal, and how long will it take." My initial answer included "Within your lines of authority, act like you already have my job" and "I will make certain you are clear on your decision-making authority, and depending on where I can add value, I promise to either stay out of your way or clear away hurdles preventing our success." As for how long it will take, "We'll see." Interestingly, I have found that the answer to the question tends to change over time, as talent, portfolio and growth strategies change and especially as the role of the Manager has continued to evolve from a operational role to a Leadership role. Today, my answer would include the notion of "courageous leadership", "transparency and honesty" and "ability to make unpopular decisions."

Eileen Hershkowitz
Eileen Hershkowitz

I was once asked the percentage of ee's that took breaks/lunches in the company break area vs. leaving the premises. The candidate also wanted to know how many "healthy choices" we offered in our vending machines. I've been interviewing candidates for over 20 years and no one has ever asked me that one before! The candidates motive was to evalute how important the company viewed and valued the "conditions & health living" of our employees. By asking this line of questioning, the candidate was seeking affirmation that we were an orginzation that not only stated "we care" but really walked the talk when it came to areas our employees frequented.
The candidate really had a valid point in my mind and made me re-think how important areas such as breakrooms, and choices in vending machines and/or cafeterias can effect how your employees view your organization in the commitment to it's most valuable resource.

Eileen Hershkowitz
Eileen Hershkowitz

I was once asked the percentage of ee's that took breaks/lunches in the company break area vs. leaving the premises. The candidate also wanted to know how many "healthy choices" we offered in our vending machines. I've been interviewing candidates for over 20 years and no one has ever asked me that one before! The candidates motive was to evalute how important the company viewed and valued the "conditions & health living" of our employees. By asking this line of questioning, the candidate was seeking affirmation that we were an orginzation that not only stated "we care" but really walked the talk when it came to areas our employees frequented.
The candidate really had a valid point in my mind and made me re-think how important areas such as breakrooms, and choices in vending machines and/or cafeterias can effect how your employees view your organization in the commitment to it's most valuable resource.

Eileen Hershkowitz
Eileen Hershkowitz

I was once asked the percentage of ee's that took breaks/lunches in the company break area vs. leaving the premises. The candidate also wanted to know how many "healthy choices" we offered in our vending machines. I've been interviewing candidates for over 20 years and no one has ever asked me that one before! The candidates motive was to evalute how important the company viewed and valued the "conditions & health living" of our employees. By asking this line of questioning, the candidate was seeking affirmation that we were an orginzation that not only stated "we care" but really walked the talk when it came to areas our employees frequented. The candidate really had a valid point in my mind and made me re-think how important areas such as breakrooms, and choices in vending machines and/or cafeterias can effect how your employees view your organization in the commitment to it's most valuable resource.

Susan
Susan

I was interviewing a male candidate that was referred to me from a colleague within the business.

I had been going through a lot of stress while shutting down two of our bigger operations. Because of this I had gotten an actual boil on my chin and was very self conscious because I looked awful. But as you know the job must go on so I tried to pretend that I didn't have this big blemish on my face.

He was a fairly nice looking 40ish year old male. As soon as we started the meeting he asked if I was a hockey player, and I politely said excuse me? He said, "Well it looks like you got hit with a hockey puck!"

I could have died and the interview did not go very well after that. But we actually ended up hiring him. Maybe it was because he was so brutally honest!

Susan
Susan

I was interviewing a male candidate that was referred to me from a colleague within the business.

I had been going through a lot of stress while shutting down two of our bigger operations. Because of this I had gotten an actual boil on my chin and was very self conscious because I looked awful. But as you know the job must go on so I tried to pretend that I didn't have this big blemish on my face.

He was a fairly nice looking 40ish year old male. As soon as we started the meeting he asked if I was a hockey player, and I politely said excuse me? He said, "Well it looks like you got hit with a hockey puck!"

I could have died and the interview did not go very well after that. But we actually ended up hiring him. Maybe it was because he was so brutally honest!

Susan
Susan

I was interviewing a male candidate that was referred to me from a colleague within the business. I had been going through a lot of stress while shutting down two of our bigger operations. Because of this I had gotten an actual boil on my chin and was very self conscious because I looked awful. But as you know the job must go on so I tried to pretend that I didn't have this big blemish on my face. He was a fairly nice looking 40ish year old male. As soon as we started the meeting he asked if I was a hockey player, and I politely said excuse me? He said, "Well it looks like you got hit with a hockey puck!" I could have died and the interview did not go very well after that. But we actually ended up hiring him. Maybe it was because he was so brutally honest!

J.
J.

I was once wrapping up an interview, with a rather aggressive candidate, and told her we would be in touch when we had completed our string of interviews. She leaned over the desk towards me, looked me straight in the eye and said "Yes but WILL you?". I replied yes, of course, to which she retorted "Ha, well it's not "Of course" is it!?" I was taken aback, but replied yes, we would be in touch. She replied "Well, this is the 15th interview I've been to and NONE of them have had the decency to call me, so it's NOT of course, is it!?"
I restated my confirmation that WE would. And WE did. Ok, she didn't get the job, BUT it made me very aware that a response to a candidate is not a courtesy, it's an essential part of the process and should never, ever be overlooked or taken lightly. We are dealing with real people with real lives and very real concerns and challenges. Every one of them deserves respect, and a response.

NL
NL

Oh! And what did I learn from this experience? Well, considering that every other candidate had heard about us prior to even applying and were "banging" on our doors to get in, I figured we are doing something right. Our employee morale is exceptionally high and we have no turnover. She just wasn't the right "fit" for our corporate culture. Lesson learned: phone screens are essential!

NL
NL

Oh! And what did I learn from this experience? Well, considering that every other candidate had heard about us prior to even applying and were "banging" on our doors to get in, I figured we are doing something right. Our employee morale is exceptionally high and we have no turnover. She just wasn't the right "fit" for our corporate culture. Lesson learned: phone screens are essential!

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