Job seekers have to deal with silly interview queries

Friday, November 16, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 46

Most interviews come in a fairly straight-forward format: You do a phone screen with human resources and then a phone interview with the hiring manager. Afterward, you meet in person with the hiring manager and other folks on the team.

But not every interview is so simple:

-- Some companies ask job seekers to do a presentation about themselves.

-- Others ask them to complete an IQ test.

-- Some ask them to create a proposal of how they would spend their first 90 days if hired.

-- Every once in a while, a company will ask you, “What kind of salad dressing best emulates your life philosophy?”

I know this must sound like a joke. But, no, I’m not kidding.

Companies will ask questions such as, “If you were a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you be?” and “What font best describes your personality?”

These types of questions can serve a few purposes. First, they can test how you react under pressure. Are you able to roll with the punches, even when you’re asked something outside of the box?

They can also test you from a culture-fit perspective. Do you answer in a way that is in line with the company culture? And, they can test your creativity. How interesting, thoughtful and unique is your answer?

Although questions like this really make no sense to many people, I can get behind them if the interview process is a two-way street.

If the job seeker is going to go along with your crazy line of questions, the hiring manager should treat the candidate with an equal amount of respect. If they’ve put in a lot of time doing homework as part of your process, take the time to follow through with them – even if it’s a little more work.

Interview them when you say you will. Respond to their emails. And, if you don’t select them, let them know quickly and in a respectful manner.

The part about this type of process I do not like is when the entire thing is a one-way street. If a candidate is going to play along with this sort of line of questioning, the company should be prepared to be respectful in return.

This is especially true if the candidate has put in a significant amount of time into the application process.

Ghosting a job seeker or taking weeks and weeks to follow up on email communications is not acceptable. It’s no way to treat any potential employee or future representative of your company.

When you treat the job search like a joke, you’re treating the candidate as if they are disposable. And, they will likely feel the same about you in return.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at