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News or Children's TV Presenter? Real Life Nightmare Interviews


Picture the scene. You are waiting outside the interview room. It’s an important job, and you really want to shine in the interview, so you have practised your answers to the usual questions.

In that vague state of semi-panic, you run through your checklist of answers to difficult questions:

  • “Where do you see yourself in 5 years”? – Check
  • “Give me an example of your skills when solving problems at work” – Check
  • “Do you see yourself as a team player”? - Check
  • “What is your greatest achievement in life/work life”? – Check and Check

It’s all good. You are ready, and when the call comes to go through, you shake hands confidently knowing you have this one in the bag. After the introductions comes the first question. Your potential new manager looks at you earnestly, compliments you on your CV, then she asks her first question.

 “Just to help us get to know you better, let me ask you an unusual question. Would you rather be a news reader or a children’s television presenter?"

 The smile on your face freezes and all you can think is ‘What’?

 That actually happened to someone I know.

There are many strange interview questions

Over the years, we have seen and heard of many instances of questions like that that one being thrown into the interview presumably to attempt to gather some sort of deep insight into the interviewee. A quick look on the internet will reveal even more ridiculous, incredibly hard or occasionally surreal questions or tasks such as: 

  • Please bring a toy with you and explain how this reflects your character
  • Name five alternate uses for a stapler
  • If you were cleaning the whole house which room would you start in?
  • Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?
  • Please do an improvisation of a film

That last one has to be my favourite; it is just such a surreal request.

Sometimes it's the candidate

Of course, the candidate can also be the one doing the silly things. We have heard tales of spilled coffee, mismatched shoes and even leaving through the wrong door and ending up in the cupboard. I once left an interview only to need to return five minutes later, knock politely and interrupt the next interview to ask if my wallet had fallen out because it contained my train ticket. There followed a few minutes where me, the interview panel and another prospective candidate (who was probably pretty sure of getting the job by now) all searched the floor.

Things do go wrong

Despite the best planning, no matter how much effort you put in, regardless of your charismatic interview techniques, things will occasionally go wrong at the interview stage. There is no easy answer about how to deal with a difficult question or a mistake on your part, but the best option is probably just to do what seems like the right thing and move on. A spilled coffee cup may well have just gone all over the HR department manager's notes, but these things happen.

Let’s face it if they cannot see through a small mistake or your prospective new manager feels that your resolution to a tricky situation involving a hippo in a hole will give them a deep insight into your ability to do the job, you are probably questioning if you want to work there at all.

Oh, and the answer to the “which room you would clean first” question, if you ever get it, clearly depends on whether or not it is your house. Doesn’t it?

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