SmartRecruiters Blog

An Interview Question Without Purpose

Once upon I was interviewing for a job: true story. It was a niche industry recruiting job. I had no previous experience in the recruiting industry. I was just an unemployed former reporter with a degree in economics, taking an interview that came my way after moving to a new city. This firm, which I will not mention by name, was trying to see how people think by asking questions not explicitly related to the job. Let me preface our interaction by saying, I do think this ‘Google Interview Technique‘ has value (when the interviewer knows how to use it…).

So the interviewer set the stage, and the conversation unfolded:

“You are at the airport about to board a flight. Then they tell that you’ve been bumped from the flight. What do you say to the airline to get back on the flight?”

‘Where am I trying to go?’

“It doesn’t matter.”

‘What do mean it doesn’t matter?’

“It doesn’t matter. You just know you need to go there.”

“Um.” I am going to talk differently to the airline if I am going to a business meeting, than say, a funeral.

“What matters is, you need to get on that plane. What do you say?”

This is when I knew I would not work for these people. We simply would not work well together. My line of thinking is simple, if you are going to set up a hypothetical situation, then setup a hypothetical situation. The interviewer did not want to set up the details (i.e. any of the purpose) of this situation. I do not travel blindly. Getting on a airplane is an investment of time and money that will change your immediate location and future. ROI matters. Maybe the ‘Google Interview Technique‘ worked; for the interviewer could be looking for someone to blindly negotiate, regardless of fit. There is a time to press an airline and there is a time not to press an airline.

Recruiters should not expect candidates to switch jobs blindly. Instead of asking – can I convince these people to work together? – recruiters should think, how can I match the goals of a candidate and a company? To make a hire of good quality and duration, recruiters and hiring managers must weigh the purpose of the hiring company and the candidate.

Have you been asked an interview question that lacked purpose? What is the most pointless interview question you have been asked?


David Smooke

David Smooke was the Director of Content Marketing and Social Media at SmartRecruiters and is the Founder of ArtMap Inc & AMI Publications.