Silly Questions, Serious Interview

By Ed Orum

jobsFive hundred resumes came down to one simple question:

If you were at a baseball game and a foul ball came your way, would you stand up and try to catch it or just wait in your seat and hope it fell your way?

No, the job opening wasn't for a baseball team, but a $13-an-hour administrative assistant at a trucking company. That's the story according to a recent New York Times article, which explains how hiring managers are getting creative in this competitive job market, with far more qualified candidates than openings.

One finalist said she'd wait for the ball to come to her, the other would reach up and grab for it. Who would you rather have on your team?

The go-getter ended up getting the job.

Often, we go into interviews with the mindset that it's all about us, and many times it is. Hiring managers wants to know more about who we are as a person and an employee - abstracts not always easily reflected in a resume.

But these days, interview questions can go far beyond inquiring about your background and everyday skills. They run the gamut from straight up knowledge based facts to mind-teasing "What if's?"

A friend who was interviewing for a tech job was recently asked: "Just curious, what is the population of the United States?" "How many apps are there for the iPhone?" "Name three of the top tech blogs"

I once interviewed for a job that required a written news test. People, places, important historical dates - I felt like I was back in high school taking my AP history exam.

Does it really matter in this day and age of instant Internet search to be able to list off all nine Supreme Court justices? Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared for curve ball questions during the interview process - stand tall and catch 'em, and you just might land yourself a job.

Next: Eight Worst Things To Say In An Interview >>

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Did I sound smug?? Yikes - you people sure are judgmental - methinks we're feeling a bit too sensitive - did we hit a raw nerve or something? Geesh - get a life.

November 02 2009 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a hiring manager and are currently hiring for a position in my office. I am also a military veteran and find much of the criticism distasteful but true to some degree. At our company, we never ask any irrelevant questions during an interview. And if I know I will be delayed at any time, I always have my assistant to communicate that to the prospective candidate. If the individual can not continue to wait and decides to leave, then to me that’s someone who does not understand how situations change all the time in business…and that’s where flexibility comes in. My advice would be maintain a positive outlook, be persistent and courteous especially when you do not agree, and keep yourself open to learning new fields of work that does not violate your morals or belief system.

November 02 2009 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Do you see anything wrong in your sentence, "Guess who's answer got them the job?" You probably would not have gotten the job if good grammar were a criteria.

November 02 2009 at 6:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does anyone know how to fix your reputation that was ruined by a manager who didn't like them because they were a union rep, female and stood up for the laws and rules? They were fired, when others, made serious mistakes and were "forgiven" numerious times.

November 02 2009 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No wonder most people are fed up with the job hunt in good old usa. I am a senior citizen and need employment to supplement my income, but I would rather be poor than to go out into the world of sharks (corporate america) and try to get a job. I went through that for years and am never going to put myself out there for such treatment again. While employed I was criticised for my accent, for being a single parent, for where I lived, for my age. So the sobs can keep their piddly jobs.

November 02 2009 at 5:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you scam artists were making soooooo much money working at home, you wouldn't be SPAMMING these blogs and forums with your crap. You would be raking up your cash and doing more important things like taking road trips, going on cruises, flying to Las Vegas or Hawaii or the Fiji Islands. You WOULD BE doing anything but sitting at home on your computer and scamming us !!

NOW BACK to the our regularly scheduled program.

I am between jobs right now and can definitely see that wages have dropped. I started out at $11.00 per hour 3 years ago and had to quit at $14.00 per hour recently, because something in that office made me sick regulary. I have not found a job that I qualify for that pays over $10.00 per hour now.

November 02 2009 at 5:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Things in the work place really haven't changed. You 'young-uns' are just beginning to see reality. I'm almost 58 years old. In 1971, I was a secretary for a company that did contract work for the Navy. I was 19. I ended up working for a man who refused to put a 'modesty panel' on my desk where my typewriter was. The man wanted to check out my legs and other stuff. He gave me terrible reviews and then I asked for a transfer. I got the transfer and then was placed with the administrator of the personnel office. On Secretary's Day in 1975 (still at the same company, mind you), my boss, the administrator, took me out to a liquid lunch (yes, nothing but alcoholic drinks) and proceeded to seduce and molest me. I turned him in. Who got fired? Me. The job I was got after that little experience was working for an attorney in Washington, DC. I got that job by answering 3 questions the way he wanted them answered: (1) Do you drink?; (2) do you smoke?; and (3) do you like to party?. I answered "Yes" to all 3 questions and got the job. I spent the next 2 years under the influence and being treated like dirt when my boss wasn't drunk. And, yes, I finally realized that I was hurting only myself with that type of behavior, quit and got sober. That's only the tip of the iceberg here, folks. I've got some other whoppers that I could sell to the tabloids and retire. I've had many other employers since then and I can tell you that it definitely IS an employer's market out there, regardless of the state of the economy. It's all about how you play the game, unfortunately.

November 02 2009 at 4:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder how Ed who wrote the column not knowing the difference between who's and whose got the job ? It is whose answer not who's answer ..

November 02 2009 at 3:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really couldn't care less about catching a baseball so I'd probably let someone else grab it. Would that make me a poor employee? I hate interviews - especially the "What is your greatest weakness question?" My greatest weakness is not knowing how to sell myself or schmooze or kiss #ss. I'm a very conscientious worker but I don't know how to project that rah rah cheerleader attitude in an interview.

November 02 2009 at 3:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually beat out over 300 people about 15yrs ago, due to one question. The interview was for Wells Fargo, picking up cash from stores and atm's. The question was, if I had $500,000 cash in my truck and I was alone would I think of stealing it. My answer was yes, I would think about it, but it wasn't enough to live a lifetime in hiding for, and definatly not enough to go to jail over. I got the $6.50 an hr job because I didn't lie, you would think about taking the money all the time, its natural. But over 300 people said they wouldn't even think about it. Some of the off the wall questions are a dead giveaway of you. The person that got hired in the article, to me, is not a go getter, not motivated, and doesn't have any goals, she wants everything to come to her, and might be an hr risk. Oh I'm not a manager by any means, just plain ole blue collar, and just lucky to still have a job.

November 02 2009 at 3:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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