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Ask the Headhunter: Sometimes this is the best way to handle bad interview questions

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.

We cover a lot of serious topics about job hunting and hiring in this column every week. Sometimes job seekers encounter situations so ludicrous that they’re painfully hilarious.

In my last column for 2017, I’d like to share some distressing levity from a source outside our NewsHour community.

A story published by veteran software developer Remy Porter on The Daily WTF (“The Interview Gauntlet”) should be required reading for all employers and job hunters, not just those in the technical world. The story of how a tech job applicant handled a series of ridiculous interview questions could happen to you — and it probably has. (See “Top 10 Stupid Interview Questions: #1-#5.”)

If you’re an employer, you might have done something equally stupid as what Irving, a software director, did to Natasha, an earnest candidate who showed up to interview for a user interface developer job. (UI developers program the “look and feel” of a software application to ensure the user has a good experience.)

After patiently fielding one confrontational question after another from a line of technical interviewers, and after software director Irving rudely snapped at her, Natasha finally bit back and fired them all before she walked out of the job interview. She pointed out that no one had asked her a single question related to the work they wanted her to do. In this case, that was the best answer to the entire interview.

Natasha’s story is distressing because it happens every day, with the result that good, sincere job applicants realize they’re wasting their time. Such silly, unprofessional employer behavior is why important jobs go unfilled. (This entire embarrassing episode could have been avoided if Irving and his team had asked Natasha this one, single best interview question ever.)

But the story is also hilarious because, when a patient but forthright job applicant finally snaps, we see that the employers in this story revealed themselves to be little more than schoolyard bullies pretending to be interviewers. An interviewee like Natasha, who displays amazing presence of mind and candor, quickly exposed her interviewers as childish cads. I wound up laughing because six self-righteous techies and their boss probably still don’t realize Natasha was interviewing them — not the other way around.

Dear Readers: Was Natasha wrong? What are the stupidest interview questions you’ve been asked — and what were your best answers? Please share your stories — and have a happy holiday season in spite of silly employers! We’ll be back with the next Ask The Headhunter column after the New Year!

Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2017 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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