I know its not exactly jobs season, but I was inspired by this epic open thread about usual/ inappropriate/ trick questions that have come up in a job interview. A tour through the comments section reveals that a lot of people get asked about their marital status, kids, and religion. And a fair number of people claim to have been asked brain teasers or to solve puzzles, which, obviously, the Lifehacker readership is more business and tech focused than academic, but I would be blown away in some of those scenarios.
I’ve heard some crazy stories about weird interview committee behavior, too. Committee members falling asleep mid-interview, etc. Once, for a postdoc interview I was asked what my definition of critical thinking was and how I approached that in the class room. I replied that I thought it was the ability to draw connections between material in the course and events in the real world, and you do this linking up theoretical to the applied. To which my interviewer replied with an exasperated, quizzical, “Ohhh-kaaay.” That was the same interview where none of the interviewers were in the same room, it was done as a five way conference call.
I’ve flopped some interviews hard too. Like the one where they were looking for a specialist in a particular sub-field, but that wasn’t advertized in the job listing. But then, the alchemy of writing job ads could be left for a whole other post.
So the Lifehacker post got me thinking. What are the hardest, wackest, most left-field job interview questions you’ve had to answer? I’ll go first. In an interview for a admissions job I was asked, “What qualities would you use to describe your ideal supervisor?” Ouch!