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Cover image for Terrible Interview Questions
Michiel Hendriks
Michiel Hendriks

Posted on

Terrible Interview Questions

Lets have some fun, and come up with the worst job interview question you can think of.

We have all heard about the job interview questions which are simply bad. Questions which test no practical skill, like asking people to write a quick sort implementation on a whiteboard. Or simply weird questions, which you have no idea about what they could imply, like "Are you a dog person or cat person?".

So let me hear the worst interview questions you can come up with. Which are so bad, that they become funny. (Bonus points if this was an actual question.)

Top comments (100)

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sanidz profile image
sanidz

Interviewer: "Did you heard about this facebook thing?"
Me: "Sure"
Interviewer: "Can you than develop something like that?"
Me: "What?"
Interviewer: "What?"

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robertrodes profile image
Robert Rodes • Edited on

Me: Of course. Actually, I have developed many things like that.
Interviewer: Such as?
Me: Well,I've developed a program called Tic-Tac-Toe that's like that.
Interviewer: What does it do?
Me: It plays Tic-Tac-Toe.
Interviewer: That isn't like Facebook.
Me: Oh? I'm sorry, perhaps I didn't fully understand your requirements. Can you elaborate?

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pbouillon profile image
Pierre Bouillon

Actually that's hilarious :,)

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vaidhyanathan93 profile image
vaidhyanathan

Interviewer: When you are planning to get married?

Me (Surprised): Why do you ask this question?

Interviewer: Since people may take Some time off if they got married, soo?

Me (I was like what???): I am 21. I didn't plan for the next 5 years. And basically, I am a guy. there are no chances that I go for paternity leave. Moreover, it is a very personal question.

The above was the question asked to me by some HR in the last round of interview. I declined the company offer because of it.

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks Author

I bet that company doesn't hire women at all, as they might get married and might get pregnant.
The question is so terrible it overshoots being funny and lands to being just plain horrible.

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laurieontech profile image
Laurie

I have a feeling this company also likes to ask women if they're planning on having children anytime soon. NOT ok.

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emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

Uh wtf

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joehobot profile image
Joe Hobot

I do not think that this happened in USA because it is illegal to ask any sort of questions like. Do you have wife? Do you have children etc..

Yeah sure later when you are hired, you got to put Married, 15 kids and 3 cats for your insurance and taxes but at interview? Nope.

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tevko profile image
Tim

Interviewer (CTO): "I don't know anything about frontend. But look at this regex on this piece of paper and tell me what it does"

Me: "This is impractical, but It looks like an email validation"

Interviewer: "Tell me what is wrong with it"

Me: "I mean I would use a computer for this"

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dwd profile image
Dave Cridland

What's wrong with it is that you can't validate an email address using a regular expression - the syntax is too complex. But as an answer (or, indeed, a question) that's extraordinarily niche...

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zanehannanau profile image
ZaneHannanAU

I would say it's fairly simple to validate-- just not with regex.

With regex; I'd just test ([^]+)@([^]{1,255}). Or with JS: /(.+)@(.{1,255})/su.

 
damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

By that logic, shouldn't you ask your candidates if they are practicing a sport where they might injure themselves and miss work? A man tells you he is skyiing in the weekends is as big a risk as a woman who might want a baby some day don't you think?
If he breaks his leg and has to miss a few months of work, those poor colleagues will suffer the consequences. Do your futur employees even have the right to have a life outside of work? Or must they be living for the job, and be sure to never do anything that "might" make them miss work?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

"What's your favorite Star Trek series?"

It's really bad to expect your employees to fit into some kind of arbitrarily-defined "nerd" culture.

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks Author

The obvious correct answer here would be "the original trilogy".

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danielescoz profile image
Daniel Escoz

"The one with the daleks"

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kdraypole profile image
Kobe Raypole

As a fan of Star Wars, I must say...

It's a trap

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tvanantwerp profile image
Tom VanAntwerp

Same problem with sports. It may not come up as much in tech, but as someone working at not-a-tech-firm, people love to talk about sports. And I just don't find any appeal in it. There's no room for me in those conversations.

Also, DS9, obviously.

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robertrodes profile image
Robert Rodes

The one the boldly goes where no one has gone before.

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desolosubhumus profile image
Desolo Sub Humus 🌎🌍

Quick way to confuse the interviewer: 'I'd say the one with ... stars in it. Yeah, that one. Go sportsball.'

You probably wouldn't get hired there, but would you really want to?

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks Author • Edited on

Which collection data structure to you most associate with?

  • Stack
  • Queue
  • Skip list
  • Bloom filter

Somebody who's a stack would obviously always work on the latest thing which was given to them. And a queue person would always finish the things which came in first.

A skip list person organized all their work in layers, where each layer has a bunch of tasks linked together.

The bloom filter person could reliably answer that they are not working on something. But cannot be completely sure if they are working on something.

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tvanantwerp profile image
Tom VanAntwerp

TIL I'm a bloom filter.

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rapidnerd profile image
George Marr

"If our company starts with a Z does that mean it will be at the bottom of googles search list?"

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alexandrusimandi profile image
Alexandru Simandi • Edited on

These ones were real for me.

Interviewer: "Do you get along well with your family?"
Me: "What?"
--
Interviewer: "Why is JavaScript single threaded"
Me: "Have you heard of threadpool?"
--
Phone call.
Me: "Hello, I have an interview and I wasn't allowed in the building"
Interviewer/HR: "Oh no problem, the whole team got fired."
--
Interviewer: "Write me the code for reversing a string"
Me: writes string.reverse()
Interviewer: "I have no idea if this works"
--
Interviewer: "How important is the salary for you?"
Me: ...

And now fictional.
Would Shrek be a good weatherman?

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binarydigit profile image
BinaryDigit

rofl the team fired and string.reverse() ones gave me a chuckle

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camdhall profile image
CamDHall • Edited on

What you are describing is absolutely, 100% illegal in the US. And FOR GOOD REASON. As someone who ran my own business, no, this is not how the world works. If your number one priority as a company is to make money, you're going to go out of business. Or you're going to make your life and everyone else's life a living hell. There are plenty of options to pay for paternity leave as a company. And the cost of hiring and firing people usually outweighs what you lose do to paternity leave.

Also, before I started coding, I worked in the HR department of my university's career center. This isn't how good HR works.

Even further, I am a type 1 diabetic. The idea that you're going to discriminate based off of health, is also definitely illegal. I've had one interview where I mentioned my insulin pump (I made a game about it kind of, and it was relevant to a question they asked). The lead software developer asked if I had type 1 diabetes (which I mean, no one just uses a insulin pump for the fun of it). The HR rep stopped the interview, pulled him out of the office, talked to him, and then he came back in and apologized immensely. Of course I understand the mistake, but the point is any decent HR rep knows there are clear limits to what you can ask, much less base a hiring decision off of.

I truly hope you either have learned from this thread, or don't have any hiring power where you're at.

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csoneill profile image
Christopher Smith O'Neal • Edited on

The HR person overreacted. You already said that you have an Insulin Pump. As far as I know, only people with diabetes type 1 need one of those. The software developer just connected the dots

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camdhall profile image
CamDHall

To be clear, I don't believe she forced him to apologize or anything. She likely just explained the situation to him and he realized he didn't really mean to ask me that question. You're right in that in this particular case, she totally could have left it alone, but it's better to be safe than sorry. A good HR rep is going to establish a clear boundary. The point still stands, in the US, this is illegal and more importantly, not common practice by any stretch of the imagination. At least, not for companies which want to continue to exist and remain productive.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair • Edited on

If your number one priority as a company is to make money, you're going to go out of business.

That's the number one priority of a company, especially in the US. Individuals in it might have different priorities (and I'd hope they do!) but don't kid yourself about capitalism. If the company wants to implement equal hiring policies it is entirely because they have evaluated (risk of being fined by the government + sued + bad PR) > (risk of extra expense of paying maternity leave).

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camdhall profile image
CamDHall

Some companies definitely do operate simply to make money, most of which struggle immensely to do so, and waste a ton of money in the process.

Profit is definitely a priority. But most companies exist for other reasons, and focusing solely on making money often leads to huge booms and bust.

As for the second part of your comment. You're missing some important pieces of information. Happy employees are much more productive. And a diverse workforce is almost always more productive. High productivity leads to higher profit margins. Think about this, would you say your code is "better" (more maintainable, cleaner, faster, flexible, whatever) when you're working 80 hours a week, or 40? For me personally the quality of my code drops off sharply after 8 hours of work. Plenty of studies confirm this notion, and most project leads I've worked with have agreed (though not all were in a position to actually improve working conditions).

Companies have a vested interest in a diverse and happy work force. If they decide not to hire a women simply because she might take time off, then the assumption is they're picking a "worse" developer who in the long run will cost them more.

So they'd trade short term profit for long term profit by hiring the better developer, even if they end up paying for maternity leave.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair • Edited on

Happy employees are much more productive

And that's seen by the company as something that's good because it means they will make more money.

Companies have a vested interest in a diverse and happy work force.

Yes, vested as in "profitably motivated".

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camdhall profile image
CamDHall

Yes... Lol. I didn't say it's not a priority at all. My point was it's about more than just the fines they're avoiding.

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elmuerte profile image
Michiel Hendriks Author

One from then often brilliant Twitter account @iamdevloper

 
damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

Hunting is not really the problem (but if I'm looking for a software dev job, I can't see why I should give those infos), the problem is that you (or HR or whatever) discriminate based on that.

It opens the door for countless of discriminations, you even add: some other conditions. You first started with women that have the potential to get pregnant, now we've added dangerous sports (dangerous is such a relative term... I play soccer, I could very well break my leg, should I reconsider having that as a hobby? πŸ˜‚).

I guess I could understand certain things for insurances (only a few...). But to get a job? An office job??? Come on...

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laurieontech profile image
Laurie

"If you were a car what kind of car would you be?"

This was a real question asked in a job interview (just not to me).

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sanidz profile image
sanidz

One that changes colors when washed under stream of water :D

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anipimpale94 profile image
Anirudha Pimpale

nice answer!

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arjenpostma profile image
Arjen Postma

One that can go from a - b without problems.

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damcosset profile image
Damien Cosset

You kick out candidates who don't answer the question: Are you planning to have a baby soon?

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camdhall profile image
CamDHall • Edited on

I had a phone screening with a recruiter. I spent probably 30 minutes talking about my experience with React, Node, vanilla JavaScript. Then this:

Recruiter: do you know "the DOM language"?

Me: Uh well I am obviously pretty comfortable manipulating the DOM through JavaScript and I'm comfortable with HTML/CSS

Recruiter: "okay but do you know the DOM LANGUAGE?"

Me: yeah I have a good understanding of the DOM interface.

Recruiter: "so you don't know the DOM language specifically, just JavaScript and HTML"?

Me: "No I totally know the DOM LANGUAGE too. Total expert".

Me (to myself): "I really hope that didn't sound mean. It's not his fault".

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nthmost profile image
circular firing squad captain

[wait for the punchline at the bottom]

Interviewer: "So, what do you think about SSD."
Me: "Err, in what regard?
Interviewer: "You know, just, what would you say about it."
Me: "Well, they provide for faster disk access, so it's great for quickly loading and indexing large databases..."
Interviewer: "Well what I mean is, would you want one on a desktop computer?"
Me: "Umm... yes, they're generally nice to have..."
Interviewer: "Can you say more about why?"
Me: "Do you want, like, numbers on I/O rates...?"
Interviewer: "No I just mean like as a power user, your view of SSD drives."
Me: "..."

[this is for a data engineering job in 2019.]

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