Are interviews just a bit of a laugh?

News of more crazy questions being asked at interviews makes me wonder if we are all going mad.  Asking questions like ‘if you were an ice cream what flavour would you be?’ or ‘how would you get a hippo out of a hole?’ have to be questioned in terms of their validity in genuinely measuring the suitability of a candidate for a job (unless the job is manning an ice cream van or working in a zoo I suppose).  Another suggestion was ‘who would win a fight – Superman or Batman?’ – makes amusing rumination on the radio but has to be questioned as a valid way of measuring candidate suitability for a job.  Unless it was to draw cartoons …

In all seriousness I hope these suggested questions are not adopted by employers.  Meanwhile, as providers of careers advice we have to wonder whether they should be included in our ‘likely questions to prepare for’ – despite our firm view that they have very little value.

Why do we put candidates through this kind of challenge?  Who can forget the poor candidate who having survived many of the trite tasks on The Apprentice was then asked to imitate a dinosaur in his interview – and felt obliged to comply – only to be trounced for doing so.

News items suggesting that these questions are used surely just increases nerves among prospective interviewees who will be racking their brains for the ‘right’ response.  I heard it suggested that an amusing or light-hearted reply might be best… for example ‘I would coax the hippo out of the hole with my charm and easy manner’ or ‘I would fill the hole with water so the hippo could swim out’.  But seriously, how many of us have to deal with (at least real) hippos in our daily working lives?

Yes creative thinking is important, but there are many proper and valid ways of assessing this, and making it relevant to the job in question.

The challenge of working out what you really want to do, finding a job that fits the bill, applying, getting through the various selection stages, and reaching the final interview point is testing enough surely without this kind of trivial treatment of candidates, or am I just being a spoilsport?

Sarah Chiumento

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