You Want Me To Do What?

A friend of mine was asked some strange things in an interview. Well, I think they’re strange and some people think they’re perfectly normal. So, I went to go get a different perspective. Thanks to my love of LinkedIn, I’ve found some great HR/Career communities in there and I’ve been commenting and reading a lot of the things HR-Types look for and passing those on to friends.

So I posted the following question in one of the forums:

I had some questions from an actual interview. A friend interviewed for an Administrative Assistant-type job and the interviewer asked questions like: “Tell me about a time when you’ve lied.” “Tell me a time when you’ve been sent to the principal’s office.” Then, after hearing that the applicant went to school for an English major with a vocal minor, The interviewer asked the applicant to sing a song for him.

Does any of this sound legal?

Here are the responses from the community – Actual HR Directors and Recruiters.

CEO and Executive Director:

Nicholas – illegal, no. Incredibly stupid? this one takes the cake. If I were asked something like that (lying), I’d give some innocuous example of a white lie told to my kinds about Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. OR better yet, if as an Admin assistant, ‘I told someone my boss was not in the office after he told me to tell everyone he was out’ needing to finish a report or something official. As far as the song, I’d tell them ‘my vocal coach advises me not to sing unless I’m getting paid to do so’, or ‘in front of an audience of more than 25’.

I really enjoyed his response. I think, if you’re put in that position, you might have to respond with some sort of silly snark.

Sales Manager at a National Furniture Company:

If I were asked such questions, I would ask MYSELF if this is really a company that would be a good fit for me.

I wholeheartedly agree with the above sentiment. I think I’d have to walk away.

A Job-Seeker:

I have seen similar questions on personality exams. I do not see the questions being illegal, but I cannot see how singing a song is relevant to being an Administrative Assistant. Unless perhaps entertaining is part of the job description. The other questions seem like a catch-22. I agree with “Sales Manager” in wondering if that is a company I would want to work for.

I’m noticing a trend here, from manager and employee alike.

Store Manager at a National Clothing Company:

Tell your friend to run for his/her life.

It’s true, A real trend.

Human Resources Director – Education

Wait a minute…there’s no Santa, no Easter Bunny? I’m bummed. Love Steve’s response. I agree that they are questions probing for your reaction and creativity when faced with unforseen spur of the moment challenges, and how you would respond. I would’ve sung jingle bells!

Finally, A response in the other direction. I think this is a case of what you see, is all there is. While my personal reaction was that of shock, horror, amazement and extreme annoyance, my friend didn’t see anything wrong with it. Just part of the interview process.

I agree with a lot of people, and commenters above, is that somewhere you’d want to work everyday?

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4 responses to “You Want Me To Do What?

  1. For the song, I would have sung “Up Against the Wall” by David Peel.

  2. Again I say, you weren’t there and you don’t know the circumstances, the tone of the interview nor the specifics and intensity of the Position. Alas, you continue to call it an “Adminitrative Assistant” position after being corrected.

    That said, the Interviewer has major Corporate experience in HR as well as owned now 2 successful businesses over the past 10 years.

    My advice, don’t continue an interview your not comfortable with.

    Heavily disagree with you, but still love ya 😉

    • You’re right. I wasn’t there. But, saying I didn’t know the circumstances is somewhat short-sighted. I’ve asked questions, I’ve had discussions and I asked for outside perspectives. As you’ve seen from above my perspective is this: Those questions had nothing to do with the position being applied for. If I’d have said it was an Administrative Singer, then fine, the singing one would have applied, but the one about lying wouldn’t have.

      Just because someone has experience in HR or Owning a business doesn’t mean the questions are valid to the situation. I know you feel like you have to defend your employer because you opened the door to this interview. But, you don’t. You and I, as you stated above, are always going to disagree on the sides and merit of this interview.

      We all get to say our peace about the interview, and it made a great story on the interview. It was an Administrative position. And to be honest, your tone, be it a little condescending and hyper-defensive doesn’t really make me feel like I have to give the interviewer any more positive light than I already have.

      But, this is my blog and space on the internet, so I get to report the news as I see it from my own perspective. You get to tell your tale, too. That’s the joy of opinions and perspectives, everyone gets to have their own.

      I disagree with your sentiment and characterization of my post. And that’s OK. I get to. It’s just how it is.

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