Question: How do I answer intrusive interview questions? They just make my skin crawl.
Yeah, interviewers always ask “What gets you out of bed in the morning?” and no one wants to hear you say, “Percocet”.
Many of these gauntlet situations are setups. People want to make sure you can tolerate total jerks, because they don’t know how to behave in any other way. I have a hard time keeping my temper, and tend to respond with candor on the theory that they might as well know the truth sooner rather than later.
Liz Ryan’s original post on how to answer rude and intrusive interview questions is almost good enough to have been written by the Problem Lady herself (meaning: shockingly blunt).
My answers to these questions, prior to reading Liz’ answers, were these:
What are you working on improving about yourself?
Everything. All the time. It never stops.
We have a lot of candidates to interview. What makes you a stronger candidate than those people?
How the fuck would I know? I haven’t met any of them.
What is your greatest weakness?
I don’t suffer fools or or bad process.
What would your last manager say about you?
That I was completely unmanageable. She meant it as a compliment.
If you were a can of soup, what kind would you be?
Oh man, I haven’t thought about that one! Why don’t you ask about the tree instead? I was all set to be a mighty oak, weathered by centuries of storms, home to innumerable endangered woodland creatures, yet still flexible and vital.
But no, you had to ask about canned soup. I might be a can of gumbo. You never know what’s lurking under the surface.
I could have said I’d like to be a phone tree because I’m a good team player. Or a decision tree, meaning I’m both logical and a risk-taker. Or a voice menu tree, designed to keep customers away. Or maybe I could be Etz Chayyim, the Jewish Tree of Life. Lots of trees out there, no?
What did you earn last year?
Respect!! That’s what I earned! I did earn money, too, but that’s privileged information.
What’s your personal five-year plan?
I want to RULE THE WORLD!! Yeah! In fact, it’s already done, I’ve just delegated so cleverly that most people haven’t noticed who’s really in charge.