A while back, we asked readers to send in some “horror show” examples of bad interview questions — and oh, the response we got! Here are some of our favorites, along with commentary from those who submitted them.
“If you were a carousel, what type of music would you play?”
One of our managers proposed this question. It still makes me laugh, but only because it was never used in the actual interview!
“Who cuts the lawn in your family, you or your husband?”
The CFO asked me this one when I was interviewing for an administrative assistant position at an insurance company in the early 1990s.
“Does your spouse support your efforts to enter this profession?”
During an interview for a position as a police officer, I answered that question saying that I was hopeful my husband would “come around.” When told that I did not pass the interview, I contacted HR for feedback. The director, a man, acknowledged that while the panel liked my overall answers, they were concerned by my answer to the “spouse support” question. (They justified this question by stating that there is a high divorce rate in this profession.)
The director then asked, “What will you do if your husband ultimately does not support you?” I replied that that I wouldn’t divorce him. The director said that he agreed with the decision to reject me because he certainly wouldn’t want his wife to be a cop.
“How do you handle rumors and gossip in the workplace, especially if it is about you?”
I gave my answer but asked them, “Is there a problem with rumors and gossip in this office?” I respectfully declined their offer of employment — it must have been pretty bad if they were asking that question during the interview!
“How many children do you have?”
My daughter was also asked “What will you do for child care?” and “Who carries the medical insurance, you or your husband?” The interview was conducted by a team and not one of them objected or reacted when the questions were asked.
“If I were to ask your husband if you have a bad time during PMS, what would he say?”
Being young and really needing the job, I told him he would say that I was fine. He then explained that they had a secretary that “once a month” would be so cranky no one could even talk to her.
“If you were a vegetable, what would you be?”
I was too flabbergasted to respond to this CEO’s question, but I got the position.
“I see on your resume that all your previous experience is out of town. What brings you to this town?”
This question was asked of my wife. It was a military town, and the point was to see if I was in the military.
“Does your parents’ house have a swimming pool?”
My 16-year-old was also asked, “What kind of car do you drive?” and “Are your parents divorced?”
“So when did you graduate from college?”
I took some time off of school, so if the interviewer was fishing for my age, she got it wrong!
“Are you wearing a skirt or pants?”
A male interviewer seated at his desk asked me this one. Then he asked me to stand up. He then took notes about it. I was flabbergasted. I didn’t get the job.
“What is the limit that you could earn under Social Security without losing any benefits?”
Not knowing any better, my husband told the interviewer that he could earn any amount because he was of full retirement age. He did not get the job.
“So, you are getting married soon — does that mean you will be leaving us to go have a baby?”
I got this question from a company president in the late 1980s.
“Do you live with anyone?”
I asked how that question was relevant to the position. The interviewer said that I could not possibly afford to rent or buy on my own. I said nothing. I think she was trying to get me to say that I was living with my boyfriend, which I was. I didn’t get the job. The company went under a few years later.
Tomorrow, the flip side: Some good interview questions.