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Best Answers to "Loaded" Interview Questions?

kaelscion profile image kaelscion ・2 min read

Hey all! What are some of the best stories you have about great/clever/funny answers to "loaded" interview questions? The stories don't have to be related to tech or even about you. But let's laugh and tell some stories you've heard (or been apart of on either side of the table) about our favorite answers to near-enough pointless questions like: "Would you consider this your dream job?", "Do you see yourself retiring here?", and other gems that even interviewers don't really get the point of asking. To be fair, I'll start with my favorite.

My father worked for FedEx for 42 years and just retired last year (SO PROUD OF YOU DAD!!!). In the early days of this company that has since received "utility" status, the company struggled mightily to keep from going under. For that reason, they sought to hire the absolute best salespeople they could find. One of these candidates was a good friend of my dad's.

In walks this 20-something candidate to interview with the top brass at a young Federal Express. They grilled him on sales for well over an hour and liked what they heard. Near the end, the second-in-command of the company, who had flown from Memphis to oversee interviews pointedly asked: "Would you say that this would be your dream job should you be hired?".

Without a moment's hesitation he replied, "Heaven's, no! Short-reliever for the Red Sox." (For those who don't know, a short-relief pitcher works about 2-3 hours/wk during the baseball season and is one of the highest-paid players on the roster)

The table of executives smirked, conferred with each-other, and hired him on the spot. He retired from the company a Senior VP 30 years later.

Discussion

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

This is a tough question to answer because it really makes me stretch my brain to find something good.

But this comes to mind: If you are asked a coding question that is trivia you'd always Google while on the job: Maybe you can have the courage to say you'd Google for that answer! But to make it be known that you aren't dodging the question, follow up in the same breath with something that demonstrates that you understand the underlying principle.

The question was loaded or lazy. Recognize the game and reply as such, and hopefully without coming off as overly arrogant in the process.

(Sorry if that was a bit off base with the question, but it's all I could think of)

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kaelscion Author

Not off base at all Ben! That's exactly the kind of stuff this discussion is for!

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ahferroin7 profile image
Austin S. Hemmelgarn

My favorite relates to a friend of mine, although it's not exactly a pointless question that it relates to.

A few years back my friend was interviewing for a mechanical engineering position at a manufacturing company. About 10 minutes into the interview, he was asked to model a part in AutoCAD based on an actual physical sample of the part together with a simple description. He read through the description, spent about two or three minutes examining the sample part, and then caught the interviewer completely off guard when he asked whether the sample part or the description should be considered the authoritative source of information. He had, somehow without even picking up any of the tools on the desk before him, noticed that the part was made of a completely different type of steel than the description called for, and was a few tenths of an inch too short in one dimension compared to the description. He got hired on the spot.

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kaelscion Author

Thanks for sharing! Talk about unequivocally proving you're the person for the job!

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Simon Massey

How do I apply this technique to my next interview?

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kaelscion Author

Sounds to me like Austin's friend was able to take advantage of a rather unique situation where the interviewer was under-prepared and/or hadn't themselves taken the time to answer the question they asked beforehand. I would say to apply this yourself, ask excellent questions, carefully examine the criteria and parameters of their "gotcha" or "skill-testing" question, and make sure you are extremely well prepared and hope you get an interviewer that is not as prepared as they should be (happens more often than you'd think.) A lot of interviewers are engineers themselves and are taking time away from solving business problems to propose the technical equivalent of Reader's Digest riddles to candidates. If you see an opening like this, take it and hope they appreciate the cajones it takes to call them out like that.

Barring that? No clue 😜😜😜

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kaelscion Author

Love it!

Interviewer: "This will miss the mark and not work"

"Oh yeah? How much of a pay raise do I get when it does work?"