The 3 Dumbest Questions That People Ask During a Job Interview

© Robert Kneschke -
© Robert Kneschke -

I’m sure at this point you saw the news from this weekend that Reese Witherspoon’s husband got arrested for DUI. And, she did what any drunk celebrity wife should do – threatened a police officer with the best question ever asked by celebrities, “Do you know who I am!?”

Yep , Mrs. Legally Blonde herself asked the one question celebrities are trained to never, ever ask, under any circumstances. She broke Rule No. 1 of being a celebrity – and it was glorious!

This got me to thinking, from a candidate perspective: what are the questions someone could ask that would ensure that your interview went from “Fab” to “Drab” in about 3 seconds?

My Catfish Friend, Kathy Rapp over at Fistful of Talent, had a great post this past week (3 Questions Freakin’ Awesome Candidates Ask) which gave candidates three absolute home run questions to ask at the end of the interview to show you’re a Rock Star candidate. My list does the opposite!

The cool part of my list is that each of these questions are from actual candidates asked during actual interviews that I’ve been a part of:

1. Do you drug test?

Nope! But we do now! I’m pretty sure the person who asks this question has already made up their mind they don’t want to work for your company and they use this to ensure you won’t hire them.

Believe me there are plenty of people who interview just to get their parents, spouse, etc. off their back, but they don’t really want to work so they sabotage themselves. Asking dumb questions at the end is one of the best ways to sabotage an interview! Other question on this path – Do you do background checks? Do you do credit checks? Do you hire felons?

2. How long before I get to use sick time?

Never, because you won’t be working here! Again, the person who asks this question asks it for a reason – and that reason is that they “plan” on being sick.

Quick HR Pro Rule of Thumb: If someone plans on being sick, you aren’t going to be happy with that hire. Other questions on this same path: When would I get a raise? How soon can I use my health insurance? What happens if I’m late to work?

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3. Can you date co-workers here?

To be honest, my immediate follow-up question to this, without answering his question, was, “Are you dating one of the employees here?” To which he said “No,” but that he ran into this at another employer and didn’t want to “have any problems” again.

So, you’re assuming we have folks here who are just not going to be able to hold themselves back and must date you!? Is what I’m hearing?

Again, I’ll come clean on my next response. I told him, “You’re allowed to date employees here, you just can’t sleep with them.” (That wasn’t actually our policy – but it was fun to say!) At that point, he had no response and I ended the interview. Other questions on this same path: Can you drink alcohol on the job here? Can you smoke pot in the work bathrooms? Can you steal office supplies?

What has been the dumbest question you have ever heard during an interview you were a part of?

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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