1. I was being interviewed for a job with an advertising agency and the interviewer kept checking information on my CV and then asking me about it, and be saw that I’d studied philosophy at university, and he said, ‘Oh, I see that you studied Philosophy at university. Do you still practice philosophy?’ So I said, ‘Well, I still think a lot’. Anyway he obviously liked the answer because I got the job.
2. At my job interview to become an editor with a publishing company, there were three people asking questions: two managers, and a woman from Human Resources. All the questions had been pretty normal, they were about my studies and experience, and then suddenly the woman from Human Resources asked me, ‘What would make you kick a dog?’ I was totally flustered but I managed to answer – I said, ‘I’d only kick it if the dog had bad grammar and couldn’t punctuate properly’. l thought it was quite a clever answer and, in fact, I got the job!
3. When I was applying for a teaching job in Korea, they were doing the interviews by phone because I was in the US. And because of the time difference they were all very early in the morning, which is not my best time. Anyway, the Director of Studies of this particular school asked me, ‘How tall are you?’ and, ‘How much do you weigh?’ I answered his questions but after the interview, when I thought about it, I decided that I didn’t want to work in a school that would judge me by my height or my weight. So later,
when they offered me the job, I turned it down.
4. I was being interviewed for a job with a company in Switzerland and the interviewer asked me, ‘What animal would you like to be reincarnated as?’ So I said a cat, because it was the first thing I thought of and because cats have a good life – well at least in Britain they do. And then the interviewer immediately looked a bit embarrassed and said that he had been told to ask me that question to see how I would react, but that he thought it was a stupid question. In the end I didn’t get the job, so maybe the interviewer wasn’t very fond of cats …
5. I went for a job in a lawyer’s office. There were two of us waiting to be interviewed – me and a man about the same age as me – and he was nice so we were chatting before we went in, and we agreed to have a coffee afterwards. Well, I went in first, and they asked me the usual sorts of questions about my previous job. They had all my personal information on my CV and so they knew I was married and suddenly they asked me, ‘Are you planning to have children?’ I said ‘not in the immediate future but maybe one day’. Afterwards when I was having coffee with the other candidate, I asked him if he’d been asked the same question, and he said no, even though he was married, too. In fact we both got offered jobs, but I still think it was a very sexist question to ask.
Which of the questions did you think were good or bad to ask at an interview?
© Oxford University Press