Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Money money money money.. MONEY!

I had a job interview the other day (I already have a job, but this new job sounded interesting in that it paid more), and during the interview, I was asked a question that I consider to be one of the stupidest interview questions of all time: "Why do you want to leave your current job?"
Here's why it's a bad question - 9 times out of 10, the answer is "because I want more money." But you can't just SAY you want more money, because that makes you sound money-hungry and disloyal. The 10% of the time that the answer isn't "I want more money," it usually falls into one of these categories:
1. Self-explanatory - If you work as a burger-flipper at a fast food joint, and you're interviewing ANYWHERE else, the answer to the question is always going to be "Because I flip burgers for a living, and anything else would be better."
2. Inappropriate to share during an interview - If you're leaving because you dated your boss and then he cheated on you with your secretary, you probably don't want to share that. If you're leaving because you have a feeling you're going to get fired soon anyway, it's probably not in your best interest to tell the interviewer.
3. Makes you sound like a bad employee - You can't tell an interviewer that you want to leave because your boss makes you work too hard, or because the company has limited the amount of time that you can spend playing tetris, or because all of your coworkers hate your guts.

So, 97% of people lie about why they want to leave their current job, which makes the question completely pointless. My answer to the question was something along the lines of "because I'm looking for an opportunity for professional growth," and then the woman asked me specifically HOW I saw this new position as representing growth for me, and in my head, I was screaming "more money, more money, more money!" but I couldn't SAY that, so I rambled on incoherently, and long story short, I don't think I got the job.

Perhaps the absolute worst interview question (which thankfully I wasn't asked in this interview but have been asked in every other interview I've ever had) is, "What do you see as your biggest weakness?" I think the real point of that questions is to weed out people who are complete morons, because only a moron would answer that question honestly. You can't say "I procrastinate and put important projects off until the last minute and then haphazardly throw together shoddy work just so I have something to turn in," or "I am perpetually at least 20 minutes late to work," "I tend to take naps at my desk when I think no one's looking," or "I don't work well with others," so again, you have to make something up. Usually, the made-up answers fall into one of two categories:
1. Strengths masquerading as weaknesses - ie, "I'm a workaholic," "I'm a bit too dedicated to my job," "I'm a perfectionist," etc.
2. Weaknesses that are too trivial to really matter and have easy solutions - My standard answer to this question is something along the lines of "My system of organizing my work often results in my desk looking a bit cluttered by the end of the day, which I resolve by taking an extra five minutes at the end of each day to tidy up my work area." Totally lame and only half true (True: My desk looks cluttered. False: I tidy up my work area.)

However, stupid as these questions may seem, in order to actually get hired for a job where you're important enough to be in charge of hiring people, you have to know the answers to these questions so you can answer them when you're being interviewed for your important job. I feel like maybe these are secret-password-type questions that only people in some sort of management club know the answers to. So, if anyone who happens to read this knows the secret answers to the questions, could you let me in on them? I want more money... I mean professional growth.


My name is Remy said...

Thanks for reading my blog!

Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to those questions. In fact, I share your hatred for those interview questions. I always feel so fake when I answer them, like I'm trying to say what they want to hear (which I normally am anyway). But what do they expect by asking those questions?

Neva said...

what's your biggest weakness?

"I'm a perfectionist" - then burp really loud.

In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes