What are the worst interview questions you have been asked

We asked workingmums.co.uk Facebook followers to share their experiences of terrible interview questions – with some shocking results…

Interview

 

At workingmums we spend a lot of time exploring best practice and helping you prepare for an interview. But have you ever considered that the interviewer is at as much risk of making mistakes as an interviewee?

We asked workingmums.co.uk Facebook followers to share their experiences of terrible interview questions – with some shocking results…

Illegal interview questions

We were shocked by the volume of interview questions that are actually unlawful.  Laws against workplace discrimination prevent employers asking about a number of protected characteristics, including age, sex, religion, race, disability, criminal convictions.

Sadly, there were many examples of this kind of questioning, especially regarding children and childcare and some clearly bigoted thinking:

‘Do you plan on having children any time soon?’ I was 20.

‘Do I have a big family support system to be able to work full time?’ This was only 3 years ago, with a man interviewing me. I didn’t get the job. They gave it to the other (male) candidate.

‘What childcare I have in place?’ A  legitimate question if I actually told the interviewer I had a child. I hadn’t. She had researched me online.

Even more terrible interview questions

While the examples above are unacceptable and discriminatory, there is a small chance that the interviewer was ignorant of the law. But a few questions were downright shocking in their prejudice…

For a sales manager position at a car dealership…. “How would your husband feel about you working here?” I walked out at this point.

‘What does your father do for a living?

When I was being interviewed for an apprentice job at the age of 16 I was asked “do you have a boyfriend, as girls your age have a habit of getting pregnant and leaving.”

(In 2016) “I hear by your accent you are Irish. Tell us how you manage your temper when things go wrong in the office?”

‘On your ethnicity form you ticked White British, but your skin colour says otherwise. Was that a mistake?’

Our advice if you are ever asked this kind of question – and we sincerely hope you are not – is to refuse to answer and point out that they are clearly unaware of the law and are acting unethically.  It’s unlikely you’ll get the job, but who  would want to work for a company that acts so inappropriately?

Downright bizarre interview questions…

Our exploration of interviews also unearthed a lighter side – where candidates are completely stumped by the questions being asked of them.

These were once common in ‘cool’ new start-up companies, seeking out bright, innovative minds, but these days they can creep in anywhere…

Group workshop for a big hospitality group. Interviewer asks ‘how are your reflexes?’ Then throws an apple from the bowl on the table at me!

At 16 for a bank clerk position I was asked ‘what are you frightened of?’ I was bewildered and answered “spiders.” I think I was supposed to say ‘underachieving’ or some such smarmy clap-trap. Didn’t get the job.

‘If you had a blue and a purple balloon, which one would you choose? And would you walk up to it ? Or around it?’  The candidate had to choose purple and walk up to it – the balloon was a customer you had to engage with to sell a product.

I once applied for an administrative role and in the interview they asked me normal questions, but instead of answering them, I had to draw the answer on a white board. I panicked and drew a Brie for my weakness. I can’t even draw!

‘Name the last thing you stole.’

Thank you to everyone that shared their experiences. Always remember that a bad interview experience is a sign that a job isn’t right for you – it’s nothing personal. And if it makes for a good anecdote, all the better.



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