How to recognize a bad interview question (with 6 types to look out for!)

IN THIS ARTICLE

How many pizzas are consumed in the US per day? What is your favorite soccer team? Do your parents have a university degree? Irrelevant interview questions can take many forms and are sometimes difficult to recognize. Asker lists 6 categories to help you identify bad and ill-considered questions.  

The job interview is the perfect opportunity for you and your potential new employer to get to know each other and evaluate whether you are a good match. Unfortunately, however, you may be asked irrelevant, and sometimes downright offensive, questions during the interview. Learning to recognize these questions is important because it tells you a lot about the employer. Being able to identify different types of questions will also help you to deal with them better. 

Become better at handling bad interview questions through our guide 

6 types of questions that should never be asked in a job interview

1. Personal questions

“What do you do in your spare time?”, “Are you married?”, “What does your partner do for a living?” 

These questions can be asked in good faith but can often feel too private and uncomfortable to answer. Questions like “Are you planning on having kids soon?” are unfortunately still asked but are downright insulting to have to answer. Furthermore, if the interviewer makes a decision based on your answer, it can become a matter of discrimination.   

Are there interview questions that are illegal to ask?

2. Questions that are supposed to "say something about you as a person", but don't really say anything

“Which superhero do you most align with?”, “If you were a car brand, which one would you be?” 

It doesn’t matter which superhero you choose; these questions say extremely little about your personality and how competent you are as an employee. 

3. Guesstimate questions

“How many ping-pong balls can fit inside a Boeing 747?”, “How many cups of tea were consumed in Mumbai last month?”.  

Some people claim that these questions can measure your problem-solving skills and logical thinking, but this is not true (to accurately measure your problem-solving skills, you need other tools, such as a research-based problem-solving test). All these questions do is stress you out. 

4. Questions with only one given answer

“Are you stress tolerant?”, “At this company, we see work and leisure as the same thing, how do you see it?”, “Are you goal oriented?”.  

Well, what should you answer to that? “No, in fact, I’m not very goal oriented. Do I get the job?”. A question where it is obvious what the interviewer wants to hear is not a well composed question. 

5. Questions looking to "set you up"

For example, these may be difficult questions about the company that you can not possibly know, or questions that only the interviewer knows the answer to. Here you can often be forced to guess your way through, and you will recognize these types of questions because they “set you up to fail”. These types of questions can make you feel both stupid and incompetent.  

6. Questions not suited to the experience level of the role

If you’re applying for a junior role, you shouldn’t have to answer questions that only a senior person with years of work experience would know. The level of questions must always be adapted to the seniority of the role. 

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