Why I Would Make a Terrible Traditional Candidate

by Evil HR Lady on September 18, 2017

I haven’t looked for a traditional job for years–I’ve been self-employed for the past 8. But, yesterday a recruiter sent me a job description for a job that actually fit my talents, was in my local area, and that I was qualified for. This never happens. I get lots of info from recruiters in Connecticut (I live almost 4,000 miles from Connecticut, but some database somewhere has me with a Connecticut zip code), and lots of recruiters asking if I’d be interested in jobs that I wouldn’t be remotely qualified for, so this was a bit of a shock.

In considering whether or not to consider the position, I took a look at few “top job interview questions” articles and decided that nope, I could never get through a typical job interview anymore. Here are some of the questions I found and the answers I’d give.

From Monster.

  • How many times do a clock’s hands overlap in a day? I don’t know, I look at the time on my phone like everyone else, even though I wear a watch.
  • Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing. Pulling my hair back, murder, and 8 other things.
  • Sell me this pencil. Psst, buddy, wanna buy a pencil? You can use it for 10 different things other than writing.

To keep reading, click here: Why I Would Make a Terrible Traditional Candidate

Also, for fun, give me an interview question in the comments and the way you wish you could answer it.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous September 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I don’t understand the objective behind asking these questions. How can one assess skills knowing the usage of pencil?


FiveWheels September 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm

They can’t, but I assume they’re trying to assess the candidate’s ability to think on their feet and come across as confident to clients.


Goober September 18, 2017 at 4:21 pm

“Sell me this pencil” isn’t necessarily a stupid question if the interview is for a sales job. There is a school of thought that “sales technique is sales technique,” and it’s not entirely wrong.

“Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing,” my answer would start with “You can use it to ask stupid questions in interviews.”


Anonymous (was a woman) September 18, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Is it bad that one of the first things that comes to me is the “pencil test” from _Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret_….?


Nanc September 18, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Hee, that was my second thought. My first was Willow staking a vampire with a #2 pencil–gah, has it really been 20 years since Buffy?

I’ve used the “what would your supervisor say you should improve” question and my next question is always “what would your supervisor say you excel at?” Always interesting answers.

My dream job is to sit on the couch eating bon bons (and not gaining weight), reading many books and occassionally walking the dog.


Mr Who's Being Interviewed Here? September 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

My biggest weakness: inattention at large group meetings with too much political preening and little progress or agenda. I’ve been “called down” for this in performance reviews. Did I offer relevant input when the topic veered toward my domain? Yes, my boss replied. Then I don’t see the issue (except lack of adoration toward the tin gods around me).

Describe your dream job: already had it! I developed software for a military jet flight simulator. When I finished coding, I’d install it and jump in the cockpit of the trainer and “fly it”! Great job, lousy location, didn’t pay well.

I interview for great bosses to work for, and coworkers, not places with “rules, tools, and fools”.


Asile September 18, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Wonderful job with the Mary Poppins reference. That was my favorite.


grannybunny September 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Guess I’d be a terrible candidate in a so-called “traditional” interview, too, as it would be difficult to take seriously most of these “top job interview questions.”


Maria Rose September 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

The reason for an interview is to get a more personal view of how an individual reacts to a regular workplace situation. Yes, some of the questions seemed weird, but you have to view them from the prospective employer side, as to what kind of worker are they expecting. Maybe they don’t want employees who just get bored at meetings but someone who can react to the boredom, especially if you are someone who doesn’t need constant re- enforcement as you know and do job, compared to the other co-workers.
Those who are self-reliant motivated workers need little follow-up talks, but one has to realize that the majority of present day workers have to be “babied sat” to perform even the minimum effort.
The trick in the interview is to find out how the potential employer values the better workers over the low performers. I would argue to answer those questions in a realistic view, as you can’t fake your own views against a negative situation.
You would have to be desperate to the income to tolerate a workplace system you can’t feel comfortable in, especially if you don’t need someone to supervise you to do job.


fposte September 19, 2017 at 3:37 pm

I’m a prospective employer, though, and I have a hard time seeing what a question like this gets me that a clearer question doesn’t.


Sara September 18, 2017 at 7:59 pm

As a non-HR trained person who plays an HR person in a real life very small company, I think interviews are ridiculously overrated. The only way to figure out if a person is going to work is to have them work for you for three months and then have the will to fire them when any issues come up. We’ve hired people who aced their interviews who just completely sucked. And vice versa. There’s no way to know – the interview is just to make sure the person is most likely not an axe murderer. If any of you can prove me wrong, I’d love the help and advice!


Mr Who's Being Interviewed Here? September 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm

Not incongruent with Google’s more recent approach of using “structured questions”. They admit that “the case interviews and brainteasers used by many firms [are worthless]”


Julie September 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm

I agree Sara. I am a horrible interview but a good employee (or so my current and all former bosses have told me). If you based me solely off my interview, you would never hire me…….


m September 19, 2017 at 7:51 pm

I think the only thing an interview shows is how well the candidate interviews. Schmoozy people can interview very well. Manipulative people can interview very well.


charles September 18, 2017 at 10:20 pm

So, are you a cat person or a dog person?


Julie September 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

I love your answers to those questions! I would totally hire someone who had this kind of spunk and snark, but then I’m that way myself. I understand the reasoning behind some of the questions (critical thinking skills, etc.) but some of them are seriously weird and do not need to be asked.

I still to asking questions that are actually relevant to the position and help me learn about the person and what they want to get out of the job. I don’t really care if they can tell me how many times the 2 watch hands cross in a day.


Cary September 19, 2017 at 1:12 am

Not me, but a professor I knew was asked at the BBC how the interviewer could stop cats coming into his house and crapping on his kitchen floor.


Naomi September 19, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
A multi Millionaire author with houses in London, France and Auckland (got to visit family) married to Alexander Skaarsgard.


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