Opening Statements

Tales from the Front: A Sampling of Oddball Job Interview Questions

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Illustration by Jim Frazier

It’s an oldie but goodie: What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked during a job interview?

We asked you, dear readers. And based on the responses, a lot of you have been asked a lot of weird things. Here are some of our faves:

• At an interview for an associate position at a midsize litigation firm: “Are you tough? Because you don’t look tough.” I was so tempted to ask if he wanted to see my black belt.

• My very first interview out of secretarial school at a law firm: “I’m sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention. Could you tell me about yourself again, please?” I wish I’d walked out right then and there.

• “Well, since this isn’t really a job interview, do you have any children?” (It was really a job interview, judging by the later and unaccepted offer.)

• “Are you a Democrat or Republican? Not that it’ll impact our decision about hiring you—we’re just curious.”

• Interview at the attorney general’s office: “If you could force one state out of the union, which one would it be and why?”

• I was one of two finalists for a corporate position. In the final interview I was asked, “Do you plan to have kids?” The question came from the general counsel of the corporation.

• Strangest ever was at an interview with a public defender’s office: “Make up an unusual pet with a strange color, give it a name, and tell me a funny story about how it died.” That was a tough one. All I can say is I’ll always miss my purple gecko, Gerald.

• Jack McCoy or Ben Stone? (Asked at a college internship interview for the district attorney’s office.)

• For a fairly large and prominent pro-environmental nonprofit: “If we have a potluck lunch, what would you bring?” Turns out “venison chili with a side of cold, smoked pheasant” was not a good answer.

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