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Answers to Interview Questions – Part One

Updated on September 21, 2012

Answers that Win Job Offers

Do you know the best answers to use for both common and uncommon job interviewing questions? Would you like to know the answers that win the most job offers? Then you are in the right place. How do I know these answers are the best?

• Because I spent more than twenty years counseling and advising executives, managers and others who had been downsized, outsized, right-sized, riffed (‘Reducation in Force’), terminated, laid off, even ‘fumigated.’ Yes, I swear, that was what one company told those they let go – you have been ‘fumigated.’

• Because as a senior corporate executive and executive coach, I have written dozens of training manuals and presented numerous seminars on “Interviewing Skills for Managers.” I have heard or have asked almost all the questions, and have learned which answers are terrible or trite or meaningless or superlative. That’s what this is all about – superlative answers to common and uncommon interviewing questions. Answers that can win you that job offer.

This answer is guaranteed not to win a job offer.

Now I have taken a short sabbatical from interviewing dead celebrities (Genghis Khan), very weird animals (proboscis monkey) and psychic vegetables who rhyme to share what I have learned with you. This is the first in a series of hubs designed to give you the proven best answers to the interviewing questions you are most likely to encounter.

But first, I want to share the strangest and most uncommon interview question I was ever asked. And my answer.

Tell Me about Myself

“Tell me about myself.” I was interviewing for a senior executive position in marketing and that had to be the most unusual question I ever heard from an interviewer. We had been chatting for just a few minutes when he asked it. What in the world did he mean? Was he trying to ask, “Tell me about yourself,” and he got confused? It was post–lunch and he may have imbibed a martini … or two.

In order to buy some time to ponder, I repeated his question: “Tell you about yourself?” And he repeated his question again, “Tell me about myself.” That was it.

Okay, I silently said to myself, enough with the stalling tactic, I’ve got to answer his question. I looked around his office quickly to pick up some more visual clues and then replied something like the following:

“You appear to be an experienced and savvy interviewer (a few compliments can’t hurt) because you smiled, got up from your desk and came to meet me at the door to shake hands, to help establish rapport and put me at ease. Then you led me to a seat in one of two chairs in front of your desk and you sat down in the other one. This eliminated the barrier of the desk.

You also appear to be very organized, (I refrained from using the term, ‘anal’) with several folders stacked neatly on the side of your desk, and no other miscellaneous paperwork to be seen. The folder you are now holding may contain my resume.

There is a photo of an attractive (fair-looking) woman with two children on your desk so if this is your office, that may be a photo of your family. Your posture is exceptionally good so you may have spent time in the service.”

Because his question was so unusual and I was completely unprepared to answer it, I have never forgotten that question nor the interviewer. I realized afterward that asking me that unexpected question did help to establish rapport quickly. Our interview lasted more than one hour. When the interview ended, I asked why he had asked that particular question.

His reply: “I wanted to see how well you respond to a situation which is unrehearsed – it helps me see several things: how perceptive you are, how well you communicate, and if you can think on your feet.” Since then, I always use that question and that approach when I am interviewing someone.

And oh, yes, I did get a job offer.

When you interview someone, please be my guest and feel free to ask, “Tell me about myself.”

Interview Question #1 - Tell Me about Yourself

Do you know why this question is so popular with interviewers? The answer is simple. But first, take this short Interviewing Quiz. Twelve interviewing questions are listed below. Let’s role play. You are an interviewer and you are interviewing an applicant. Write down the numbers of the questions you should not ask a job applicant to avoid discrimination charges.

7. Where were your parents born?

8. What is the origin of your last name?

9. What kinds of health problems do you or have you had?

10. Do you rent or own your home?

11. Have you ever been a member of a union organization?

12. Have you ever been arrested?

Interviewing Quiz

1. What year did you graduate from high school?

2. (To a female) Would you like to be called, “Miss, Mrs. or Ms.?”

3. Will you continue to work once you start a family?

4. How many children (or grandchildren) do you have?

5. Do you have reliable child care?

6. What does your spouse do for a living?

Is this discrimination or what?

The Illegal Questions

Which numbers did you write down for questions you should not ask? If you wrote: “all of them,” you are correct. When you have the opportunity to interview, please do NOT ask any of these questions. They can get you in trouble. They are the so-called “illegal questions” – questions that could be considered discriminatory.

Note: The questions themselves are not illegal. But if you ask one of them and the candidate does not land the job, he or she may be able to show that the failure to hire decision was based on their answer.

To refresh your memory, here is a list of the areas involved in the “illegal questions” – the questions knowledgeable interviewers are careful not to ask:

Age … Race or color … Marital status … Number of children … Occupation of spouse … National origin … Religion … Sexual orientation … State of health … Disabilities … Financial affairs … Memberships in organizations … Criminal record.

Now, finally, here is the simple answer why interviewers are so fond of the question, “Tell me about yourself … “ It is the easiest and safest way to elicit personal information without asking any discriminatory questions.

Getting that Job Offer

The Answer to: “Tell me about yourself”

You – “What specifically would you like to know?”

Interviewer (who will not give up) – “Whatever you would like to tell me about yourself … “

Note: This is the opportunity you have been waiting for. You have prepared your own half-minute commercial, practiced it beforehand and can now recite some of the reasons you are the best person for the job based on your education and previous accomplishments.

You “Would you like to know more about the awards I won in my last position … my achievements as Director of … the manual I wrote about … the number of new employees I trained …?” State your case assertively with confidence.

Keep it impersonal and businesslike, elaborate on your achievements that fit this job, and do NOT divulge personal information that you do not wish to share.

Note: Be careful. If the “Tell me about yourself” question doesn’t get enough juicy personal information, you may be asked at some point later in the interview: “What else should I know about you?” Describe more of your accomplishments or recent learning experiences.

The next hub in this series (Part Two) will focus on the two job interviewing questions almost every interviewer will ask and the best answers for you to give to: “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?”

Favorite interviewing joke #1

The guardian for a mentally ill relative was interviewing the Director of a well-known mental institution. The first question he asked was, “What are the criteria which define whether or not a patient should be institutionalized?”

“Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub with water. Then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.”

”I see,” said the guardian. “A sane person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.”

“No,” said the Director, “a sane person would pull the plug! Do you want your bed near the door or the window?”

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2011. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So"

Comments for Answers to Interview Questions - Part One

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    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Deborah. Thanks for appreciating my 'engaging way' of presenting important interviewing information. (I just gave myself an A for alliteration.)

      Delighted that you achieved a perfect score on the quiz. Sometimes, you may be surprised to know, even attorneys slip up on one or two of those questions.

      If you have time, take a look at 'Answers to Interview Questions - Part Two.'

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 5 years ago from Iowa

      Great hub! I love how you were able to convey excellent information in such an engaging way. And, as an employment attorney, I was relieved to get a perfect score on your quiz. : )

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Yes, 2patricias, the 'tell me about yourself' question can elicit all kinds of feedback from candidates who not aware that they are providing personal information that they do not need to share. Thank you for your meaningful comments. Do hope your retirement continues to be 'blissful!'

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      During my working life (now I am blissfully retired) I lost count of how many people I interviewed, or how often I was interviewed.

      "Tell me about yourself" really is a gift question for a job candidate. It gives you a chance to explain why you are the perfect person for the job. It also gives you a chance to reassure the interviewer.

      Here in the United Kingdom there are many things that an interviewer cannot ask. When I was a young mother, I learned that interviewers were often terrified of hiring women in my position - scared we would have more kids, be unreliable, etc. My view was that I could help myself by saying I've got 2 kids, I'm very happy with the size of my family, I understand how important it is to you to appoint somebody who is reliable, I have good childcare arrangements - etc. (Everything I said was true as well).

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, htodd, thanks for your kind comment. You are most welcome. Take a look at Part Two if you have time.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to meet you, mandy, you are spot on with your reference to the reason people might answer personal or 'illegal' questions. They do not know or they do not want to antagonize the interviewer. That's why it's so important to know about the questions you need not answer directly, but can simply answer with a pleasant, "Why do you ask?"

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      That is really great answers ..Thanks for it

    • mandymoreno81 profile image

      mandymoreno81 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tips, I think a lot of people don't know when an interview question is prohibited and go ahead and answer it anyway because they don't want to possibly lose the interview by not answering the question.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      More and more that question intrigues me, holdmycoffee. I'll have to ponder on it and see where it leads. Take a look at Part Two of this series and let me know what you think.

    • holdmycoffee profile image

      holdmycoffee 6 years ago

      Drbj, thanks for compliment about my name. I wanted something that described me, but at the same time not limited me to only certain subjects.

      As far as dogs and cats question, some friends mentioned that if could be a question of loyalty and/or independence. However, it is just a guess.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Love your avatar name, holdmycoffee - very original. Thanks for enjoying my 'awesome hub.' You can always answer illegal questions if you wish but to be asked them and withold information, you have to be very circumspect not to offend the interviewer. It would appear you were able to accomplish that feat.

      The cats or dogs preference question really is bizarre. What did you respond? My first thought when asked something like that which is so totally off the mark is to respond - politely - 'Why do you ask?'

    • holdmycoffee profile image

      holdmycoffee 6 years ago

      Awesome hub! I enjoyed reading it. As a woman of childbearing age, I actually have been asked several of "illegal questions." I guess the interviewer like my answers because I actually got that job. However, the most bazaar question I was asked is if I like cats or dogs. Really? my preference of a pet could decide my future career? Apparently, yes.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to meet you, barry. Thanks for the visit and the very useful and the thanks. You're welcome. You might also like to read "Answers to Interview Questions- Part Two."

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

      very useful hub thanks!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for visiting, Patty. Good to see you here. Re the 'teasing animals' question, if I were ever asked that one I would ask a question in return: "Do you mean playful teasing of a pet?" or "Teasing animals as in a zoo to get a response?"

      As you mentioned, interviewing has changed dramatically during the last ten years and uncommon questions such as "Why are manholes round?" have become common.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      How nice to meet you, RG. In my experience, the subjective questions that most interviewers ask tend to elicit the lamest answers because the applicant can rehearse the answers beforehand.

      More pertinent information is evoked by behavioral and uncommon questions because you generally catch the job-seeker off-guard.

      The 'mentor' question is often used to discover do you know what that is and why did you select that particular person if you had one. I would never ask the 'teasing animals' question - that to me is lame.

      Thanks for enjoying Part One. Do visit Part Two if you can.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Interviews are more difficult each decade.

      Teasing animals is OK now or does "everyone" do it? Either rationale is bad. Thanks for the Hub.

    • RGNestle profile image

      RGNestle 6 years ago from Seattle

      I have always wondered about the questions asked by interviewers. Some of them seem so lame: "If you could be on a reality TV show which would it be?" "Who would you say is your 'mentor'?"

      Too bad so many companies are depending on Psych Questionnaires instead of interviewers to "weed out" unwanted candidates (Actual question: "Do you like to tease animals?" If you say "no", you have given the "wrong" answer for that question--FOR REAL!!!).

      I really enjoyed this Hub! Keep them coming!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, ThePelton - your mother was one smart mother. Her remark is a gem. You know I'll find a way to use it! Thanks for stopping by.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Alicia, m'dear, you are most welcome. Useful, interesting, 'informative' and enjoyable to read? It doesn't get much better than that. Thank you, thank you.

    • ThePelton profile image

      ThePelton 6 years ago from Martinsburg, WV USA

      My Mother said that there are only two jobs in the world that are exclusive to one sex: Sperm donor and Wet Nurse.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another very useful and interesting hub, drbj! I enjoyed reading both the hub and the comments. Thanks for all the information.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      What a pleasure to meet you, G - hope you don't mind my addressing you by your first initial. Best HUB? Whoa! Welcome, my newest BFF. Yes, application forms before the 21st century did ask for the date of your high school graduation. That was ruled as discriminatory and now they are supposed to only ask whether or not you did graduate high school. No date. The operative word there, of course, is 'supposed.'

      Thank you for finding me. You might like to visit my "Interviews" with dead celebrities and "Funny Puns." Just sayin'.

    • GClark profile image

      GClark 6 years ago from United States

      This is absolutely the best HUB that I have read so far. You imparted terrific information and also made use of humor. By the way even though it is illegal for a company to ask your age, they still can get it by having you fill out an application form where you have to include high school graduation date even if that was many years ago.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Sharyn, thanks for the visit and the gracious comments. Since you appear to be perceptive and intelligent enough to recognize my wisdom and awesome experience, you will have no problem at all with winning that job offer when you answer the tell me about yourself question. Promise.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi drbj,

      I loved the humor and your awesome experience (wisdom) throughout this piece. I currently am job searching and can only hope that someone, anyone asks me "tell me about myself." ha


    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for visiting, Derdriu. Delighted you found this hub so helpful and hilarious. I missed Marie Osmond's skit but it sounds like it was something to remember. And you did!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      drbj: Your hub is even more helpful and hilarious than Marie Osmond's skit about interviewing the interviewer who is supposed to be interviewing her!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks, Keith, for the blagging definition. I've been doing that my entire professional life and didn't know what to label it.

      Love your solution to the stealing change episode and can just imagine the look on your child's face when you came up with that very just and meaningful solution. Way to go!

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Hi Drbj, blagging is making stuff up as you go along. One of the questions they asked me was what I would do if one of the kids was stealing money. My response was that my wife was being employed, not me and I would be guided by her opinion as she would be much better versed in the child's background. That might be classed as blagging, or thinking on one's feet. A few months into the job and i discovered that one of the kids was stealing small change out of my ashtray in my Ute. My wife was snowed under, so she asked me to deal with it. I waited until the child had the money and asked where it had come from. "Under a bush", came the reply. I said well the money probably came from a poor person so how about we take it down to the 7 eleven and put it in the tin on the counter? I got a reluctant Ok and kept a closer look on my ashtray. I doubt that it fixed the problem completely, but my wealth increased. Cheers

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, manthy, thatnks for dropping by - especially since you found this 'very thought provoking' and voted up and awesome. You are SO perceptive!

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      Very thought provoking HUB ;0)

      Voted up and awesome

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Dex, I am happy to take that 'riot' comment in a beautiful way - thank you. I can tell you something about yourself. Your breakfast interviews with O. and M. are very clever and fun to read. Do you think THEY ever read them? If so, better watch your back my friend.

      Thank you, too, for the up and away - your visits are much appreciated.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 6 years ago from United States

      Dr. BJ! You are a riot (and I mean that in a beautiful way). So now, what can you tell me about myself? I love it. Should I need to interview anytime soon, I am going to refer to this hub. Maybe I will ask the interviewer to pull it up on his/her computer! Ha ha ha! Voted up, up and away!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Bravo, Keith, for being self-employed for 25 years to date. My hubby, bless his soul, was self-employed, too, for his entire life and wouldn't have it any other way.

      You are so right on the mark - 'thinking on your feet' is a positive skill throughout one's lifetime and I appreciate your recognizing it in me. 'With style,' yet.

      When you had that interview with the three 'childcare professionals,' did you find that some of the same questions were asked by all three? That often happens when the interviews have not been pre-planned. Sounds like your wife knew the right answers.

      So, "blagging" runs in your family. Is that blogging or bragging? And if it's bragging, they say it is not bragging if it is true! Amen! And thanks for the comments.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Hanna. Delighted you "passed it." Did you celebrate? ... and that you had 'a good and timely laugh.'

      You mentioned you were once turned down for being two years too old. If they told you that was the reason and it wasn't a job that depended on physical brawn, then in the U.S. you had an air-tight case for a discrimination suit.

      I was asked my age once and it was way before I became as old as dirt and when I said, "Why do you ask?" in a pleasant tone, the interviewer actually turned red in the face and moved on. I didn't get the offer but I don't think I would have been comfortable with that organization if I had.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Peg. How nice to have you here. That 'tell me about myself' question was an eye-opener for me, too. I really had to exercise the brain cells to develop the most appropriate answer.

      I included the proxemics responses, too, because I knew those were the behaviors of a professional interviewer, and what I always attempted to do when interviewing. a candidate.

      Wow, that was a bomb of a question you were asked, "Do you fool around?" I think my only spur of the moment response would have been, "Why do you ask?" hoping to throw that fool off his guard. BTW, how did you respond? Just wonderin'.

      Thanks for the visit, for sharing that peculiar interview, and the 'insightful and funny' comment. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      And I love you, Dolores, for loving my 'instucting with wonderful humor.' It's the only route I know how to take.

      You are so right about that seemingly innocuous question: "Tell me about myself." An iunnocent applicant not realizing its portent could easily find himself or herself on the other side of the door faster than you can say, "You goofed!"

      Thanks for the lovable comments, m'dear.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Dear Colin - Have I told you lately that I appreciate you. Well, I do! Your ever-laudatory comments are as welcome as finding one last chocolate chip cookie left in the package. Can you tell I'm writing this before a meal?

      Thank you for including my hubs on your Facebook page - that is a most esteemed honor, as well as alerting folks in your hubs to my existence. You ARE a sweetie-pie.

      I will treasure your comment: 'world classs writing, wit and charm' and I plan to continue to visit your great epigram hubs because it is my pleasure to do so. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful weekend.

    • attemptedhumour profile image

      attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

      Hi DRBJ, I've been self employed since 1986 so Interviews are rare for me, but then again perhaps I got more than most out of your hub as it's so far removed from my working environment. I did think that all those questions were inappropriate though.

      Thinking on your feet is a great skill to acquire and it sounds as though you have accomplished it with style. My wife and I used to look after kids in care. We spent two and a half years in our first position and then had to be interviewed for a second position at a different agency. I wasn't officially employed, but still had to pass muster. We were split up and I was interviewed by a social worker, a child protection officer, and the manager of the children's agency. The social worker told me that the interview would last thirty minutes, but no one ever got through all the questions. They ran out of questions twenty minutes later and my wife got the position. I would be confident at any interview, as blagging runs in our family. Cheers

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Although I passed it - I passed it. I am talking about going to job intereview but it is a great hub, as always. I had a good and timely laugh. Thank you. I remember I was once turned down because I was two years too old -- for an office job. Now there is a laugh. The excuses they can drum up is incredible.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to meet you, Farhan. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. Interviews are much the same the world over, you know. There is anxiety on both sides of the desk.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Wayne, for sharing that story of your involvement in 'chain interviewing.' When I worked at a multinational company, they, too, believed in that process and it does elicit more information about a candidate. But it takes more time and the applicant is usually frazzled at the end of the day.

      Interesting question that one of your colleagues asked and it does provide more info if the candidate answers honestly. You hit the nail on the head. The entire process of interviewing is so anxiety-ridden that skilled interviewers often hear more than they bargained for. Thanks again for your exceptional comments.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Very insightful and funny while addressing an important topic. Tell me about myself was one I hadn't heard and I've been on the interviewer and interviewee side of the desk. Haha - I love that you noted your interviewer sat on the same side of the desk to reduce barriers and you took clues from the interviewer's surroundings to answer. Over the years I've had nearly every illegal interview question asked of me including one that I'll never forget.

      Working at a restaurant the new manager interviewed the current staff and asked me, "Do you fool around?" Gotta tell you, that one threw me. But I continued to work there - I was single and self supporting - and later he stalked me following me home after a late meeting . . . hmm . . maybe a hub in the making. Thanks!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks, Alexandra, for laughing at my side notes in 'Tell me about myself.' I was laughing, too, when I recalled that strange interview.

      Yes, there are some VERY strange interviewers out there and much of that strangeness is due to interviewers who have no clue about which questions are best to ask. And which sould be left unsaid.

      I thought I had heard just about all the questions but that vegetarian one is new to me. So vegans are rigid? Who knew? That's the kind of question I would have responded to with, "Why do you ask?"

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to meet you, Jennie. Me, too. I love that Ziggy 'relocation' cartoon. If you hate the whole interview process, I can say without fear of contradiction, that you are among the majority. Most folks like interviews about as much as they do dental visits. (My apologies to dentists.)

      And there is no question about it, The job market IS brutal right now. Which makes it even more important to learn the best answers to interview questions to stand out above the crowd. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi, drbj - I love how you are able to instruct us with such wonderful humor. And I was intrigued by the seemingly ridiculous question 'tell me about myself.' Of course your answer was great but this was an opportunity to really goof up an interview.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..well I post so many of your grand and most definitive hubs to my Facebook page that my Facebook page is now known as my DRBJpage - lol - and as you know with our mutual friend HELLO HELLO I send everyone here with pride and respect for your world classs writing, wit and charm. And one of the true pleasures of being at the Hub is receiving visits from you my esteemed colleague and great Hub friend ...... and yes here goes another one posted at my Facebook page in honor of the great DRBJ

      lake erie time ontario canada 2:38pm

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

      I was involved in a "chain interviewing" process several years back where the candidates were run through a series of interviewers and then we all compiled our perceptions for the hiring decisions. In one case, one of the interviewer remarked to the group afterwards, I'll bet I know more about candidate X than anyone at this table. When he was asked what that would be, he replied,"Did you know that he had just recently got out of jail?" The rest of us said "No" and asked how he had come by that information. The interviewer replied, "I just simply told him to share with me something about himself that was not on his resume and he blurted it out". People give up their nervous energy in many ways and some are dangerous. If one is going to interview, they must practice their release of nervous energy and be in control of it throughout the process. Thanks for a great hub, Doc! WB

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 6 years ago

      I'm still back on 'Tell me about myself' and how you handled it (the side notes had me laughing out loud here). There are some very strange interviewers out there and I have worked for a couple of them. The last guy used to ask people if they were vegetarian! Then if the person said yes, he wrote them off as too rigid in thinking. Weird!

    • Jennie Demario profile image

      Venture Boyz 6 years ago from Floating in the clouds

      "The company relocated me and didn't tell me where." hahaha that is awesome I love it. I hate the whole interview process. I get anxiety just thinking about it. The job market is brutal right now too.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      That lil ole psych degree can come in handy, Will, when interviewing. A thorough knowledge of body language alone speaks volumes to an experienced and professional interviewer.

      Thanks for the great comment.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I once had a boss who had a degree in psychology, and he used it extensively in interviews. When he was through, you felt as though you had just been dissected.

      Great Hub!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Tina. Thank you for appreciating my desire to do a series of hubs about interviewing. I thought it was about time since I spent so much of my various careers involved one way or another in that topic.

      As interviewers we used to spend a lot of time with the sort of questions I will be featuring. These days behavioral interviewing has become more popular and we often ask questions about how a candidate did do something, not how would they do it.

      Interviews are stressful for both sides of the desk. That technique the behavioral scientist used is common. We ask what your mother would have said was your biggest weakness. What your father would have said was your biggest strength. Etc. etc. When in reality you are the one providing the response, not your mother or your father.

      You were smart not to reveal personal information. Thank you for the up and your gracious comments: "humanity, wisdom and humour!" Wow!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Dear b.M - Positive comments about my interviewing hub from a real-life hadhunter who was constantly interviewing candidates is praise indeed. Thank you, m'dear, for loving my humor, too.

      You are spot on with yoiur observations: a pleasant (clean) appearance, appropriate eye conact and a copy of one's resume are givens at an interview.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, thank you, Holle, for that marvelous interviewing tip. 'Always take two beers to an interview - one for the interviewer.' Dang it all, now why didn't I think of that?

      Thanks, too, for the up and the wordmaster appellation - love it!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, sheila. Those team or panel interviews are the most difficult of all. When you answered that "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question honestly, that was your first mistake. Not that I advocate dishonesty in an interview. But sometimes using the art of omission pays off. Like an answer that indicates you will be looking for a position in 5 years with the company that has even more responsibility, etc. etc.

      Yes, they probably would have been happier with an answer something like that.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Nice to see you here, Lynda. I'm willing to bet that you made few if any hiring mistakes when you were an interviewer. Not with your perceptive abilities and incisive wit.

      Delighted you found this interesting and amusing. That 'Tell me about myself' question makes me laugh every time I remember it. Thanks for the up, m'dear.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Amy, dear - Absolutely no thanks are necessary. I understand all too well the feelings engendered when you give your all to a company - literally - and are then dismissed with no compunction nor compassion.

      That is the way of the world today; the bottom line rules and although loyalty is demanded of the employee, that is not a two way street.

      You are a unique and caring individual and there is not one other person in the world exactly like you - as clever and judging from your avatar, beautiful as well. Dwell only on today and tomorrow; let go of the past. Assess your strengths and talk to everyone you know about potential opportunities. Networking is THE way to go these days.

      One more caution - you must stop being a perfectionist; it gets in the way. Settle for a job done excellently if not perfectly or you will stress yourself unnecessarily. I have sposken. :)

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      I am so glad you have started on a series of hubs about this topic. Most of us will experience the interview situation in one-way or the other. I have done some interviews myself, but I find it a bit hard to really get a grip on that stressed person on the other side. Most people aren't themselves during an interview!

      The last time I was interviewed for a job, a behaviour scientist did the interview. I guess he thought that I didn't tell them enough about personal things, because he kept on asking questions about that area in many different ways like; If there was a book inside your husband's head, and we could read it, what would it say about you? And he kept on going into others heads as well, into the head of my present boss and my present co-workers. I found those questions a bit too much because I prefer to keep my personal life separated from my work. I didn´t get that job so I guess I didn’t answer in the way he wanted me to do.

      One can always learn something new from job interviews and it is important to only answer questions that feel ok!

      Thanks for this great hub drbj, written in your unique way with loads of good information combined with humanity, wisdom and humour! Voted up/interesting!


    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 6 years ago

      Having been a "Headhunter" for a company in Baltimore, I found your Hub to be well written with lots of Tried and True information. The most important things are, a good clean appearance, Eye Contact, and of course a Resume that is One Page. But I have to say Drbj, I Loved your humor!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Another great hub by you, dear wordmaster! Here's a tip I learned long ago: Never take a beer and a lit cigarette to a job interview. For some positions around here, it's okay to take BEER, but be sure to take TWO. It's impolite not to have one to offer the interviewer! Rated up, my friend.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      I was once interviewed by a team of four. The last question was, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" What could I say? One thing I knew for sure is that I had no idea what 5 years would bring - so that's what I answered. I didn't get the job. Have always wondered if they expected me to say I saw myself climbing the ladder in their business etc etc.

    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Having been both an interviewer and interviewee many times I found this very interesting -- and amusing. Tell me about myself: love it! Rated up. Lynda

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Dear drbj, I do get along with everyone I work with. I also have a problem that makes temporary work agonizing for me personally. I am a perfectionist with a great deal of anxiety. I tried temp work when I was first laid off at a very busy huge law firm. They move at the speed of light and I was still reeling from my layoff, which reduced me to a discombobulated, anxiety-ridden mess without an ounce of confidence. The phone system was new to me and the women training me wanted someone who could come in, sit down and take over the job as if they'd done it all their lives. I couldn't do it. The agency called me and the woman who'd placed me before started the conversation with "what happened to the confident woman I knew?" I told her she'd been hit by a bus. I still feel that way. I can't afford counseling and I'm not really receptive at this point. I feel I have a realistic outlook. I admit I am completely disenchanted. The company that relieved me of my duties spent 13-years telling me I was "family". The day they sent me on my way, they said "It's not personal, its business". Yet their choice felt very personal to me. They knew I'd just finalized my divorce and signed a lease. I know they don't owe me anything, but I feel betrayed by the sneaky, bastardly way they lied to me with a great review and a raise! After all, they knew their plans for letting me go. I do not ever want to trust again. I cannot. The idea of returning to a crummy office job isn't worth it. I do better keeping people at bay now. Writing online gives me that. I just need to keep building toward writing that will support me. I think your suggestion about part-time work is excellent and something that would still allow me the time to write.

      Thank you, drbj, for listening, understanding and providing solid help. I appreciate your sincerity.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      It's true, Martie, as you suggested. When we ask an applicant to "Tell me about yourself," God only knows what we may hear. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have asked a young woman that question only to have her reveal her age, her dating proclivities, her relationship with her parents, etc., etc.

      Young men seem to be more careful with their answers to that question which leads me to believe they have had some relevant locker-room advice beforehand.

      I like the question you mentioned: “What exactly do you like about the job you are applying for.” And knowledge of Labor Laws is mandatory for interviewers. Too bad so many of them don't have a clue.

      Thank you for enjoying my 'delicious words' and I loved that "Stand back, I want to vote this hub up.... You are welcome to do that . . . any time!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Dear Amy - The shameful way in which you were treated by the company where you spent 13 years doing a 'stand-out' job is all too familiar to me.

      Did you see the movie, 'Up in the Air,' with George Clooney? He plays the role of a consultant who flies around the country telling employees that their skills are no longer needed by their employers. That was my job for many years.

      I can understand your not wanting to go through the interview process again especially after dealing with such an uncaring interviwer.

      You mentioned that your age when graduating high school was on the application. That must have been an old, out-of-date application. The section asking for education information in appplications today now only asks if you have a high school degree, but not the year in which it was attained. You do not have to tell anyone your age. That would fall into the area of an illegal question. If you see an app asking age, ignore it. That is your right.

      From your writings and comments you seem to have an extremely pleasing and pleasant personality. Have you considered temporary or part time work through a temp agency? I have found that many employees get hired full time by the company they are working for as temps.

      If you have any questions about job search, please don't hesitate to contact me. Be well.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Yes, by all means, Amillar, stay self-employed. Why? Because you will never find another employer as clever or with as finely honed a sense of humor as you. Trust me.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Ruby - that's just how I want to be remembered - 'useful and hilarious.' Thank you.

      So you, too, have had your share of being asked asinine interview questions. Of course, I knew you would have known the correct answer for treating the patient who was choking. Check the stairway! I mean, the airway.

      If I had been asked, I would have replied, "Run like hell for the nearest doctor."

      Delighted you enjoyed the 'company relocating' joke. Thanks for being here.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      You are spot on, dear CM, interviewing is very stressful. Doing research about a potential employer and practicing your answers to interview questions are the best ways to prepare.

      The 'weakness' question is particularly difficult because as prospective employees, do we want to even admit a weakness? Absolutely not. In my next hub I'll explain further. Thanks for the visit; I'll see you again soon.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, Lela. That story that bp told about the interviewer who asked her about birth control is one of a kind. I heartily agreee with you - run away from that job and do not look back.

      Happy that you have a profession that allows you to pick and choose your opportunities but constant stress in your work, as you already know, is not good for you.

      I will do a stressful hub - that is, one about reducing stress - soon. For you!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      drbj – As always my mind avidly enjoyed every delicious word you have written not to talk about the jokes. Never thought of ‘Telling me about myself’. Knows ‘Tell me what you know about our company’. But oh, that ‘Tell us about yourself’... then you are obliged to listen ever so politely to floods of gibberish... “Oh, I love cats.... have 40... One of them had died last Sunday and my husband refused to bury it. I have a very nasty husband....” WTH!

      So eventually we had changed the question to: “What exactly do you like about the job you are applying for.”

      Stand back, I want to vote this hub up....


      BTW, it is really important to know the Labor Laws when interviewing potential new staff.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, bp, for sharing your awesome tale about that hilarious interview. I can picture the scene and the dialogue and that poor bloke was in over his head - so to speak.

      I might not have had the strength not to respond to his confidential statement with, "What's birth control?"

      Thanks m'luv, for the up and awesome. It takes one to know one.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      I am happy for you, pd, that you have built up contacts over time so you have passed the interview stage. You are absolutely correct. Networking and utilizing your contacts is the answer to finding opportunities for work either as an employee or an independent contractor.

      And as you suggest, being on the same wavelength is invaluable. We all like to hire people we like and therefore trust.

      Delighted that you 'still read this with interest.' Thank you for stopping by.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Hi, carrie, how nice to see you here. Preparing for and going to interviews ranks right up there on the stress level with dentist visits and colonoscopies.

      It is okay to feel a little anxious but anger is one emotion one must leave at home.

      Thanks for enjoying this interviewing information and humor. I'll be back!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      I'm not surprised, Kelly, that it was a legal firm that asked you all those 'illegal' questions. In today's world most HR interviewers have been trained to avoid them, and ask the 'tell me about yourself' question.

      But the problem is with department managers or other executives who often do the interviewing and haven't a clue what a risk they are posing for their organization. Or simply do not care.

      You were prbably wise to decline that job. Asking the question about your parents' workplace was way out of line.

      I know that the natural inclination to answer those unfair personal questions is with a reply like, "That's illegal, you can't ask me that!" Instead I advocate something like: "That;s an interesting question. Why do you ask?" The interviwer - if he or she has any sense - usually backs off at that point and moves on.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'm looking forward to my series, too. :)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      When I was laid off a little over a year ago, drbj, I saw the writing on the wall. At my age, it was going to be tough. I was represented by an agency, who sent me on several appropriate interviews, meaning I was definitely qualified and had relevant experience. Every one of my interviews lasted over an hour. Each time, I left feeling positive. The last one I went on was downtown St. Louis and it was very cold. I was given poor directions by the agency and parked my car at a meter and started walking. When I got to the office, I was freezing and kept my coat on. This was the primary reason I left my jacket on, but honestly, it was the nicest article of clothing I had in my worn out wardrobe. Although, the woman interviewing me appeared older than I, and age was not discussed, the high school graduation date was on the app, and I know age does factor in today. The agency, as is their practice, called me the following day, and the first thing the rep said was "were you cold?" I completely fell apart and began crying over the phone. I have lost all interest in working for anyone else, other than the writing I do online. I will not subject myself to the miserable, humiliating tactics I have endured. The agency rep said the interviewer wondered if I was hiding tattoos.

      The fact I am unemployed, now without health insurance, makes buying new clothes for another futile interview out of the question. BTW, I was not impressed with the fit of the interviewers clothing or her appearance.

      I spent 13-years at my previous job, was well respected and did a standout job. Two weeks before my layoff, I received an extraordinary annual review. I know that the layoff plans were in the works, in retrospect, as they acquired an automated phone system to replace my switchboard duties, which was operational by the following day.

      Your article is fantastic, drbj. My plan, however, involves never submitting to another interview, as I am prepared to do anything other than endure the humiliating process I have become accustomed to. Yes, anything.

    • amillar profile image

      amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK

      Tell me about myself; do you think I should stay self-employed?

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      drbj, This was useful and hilarious. I like the hilarious better since i no longer have to be interviewed. ( Thankfully ) The most astonishing question i was ever asked, What would you do if you entered a room and found your patient choking? When i answered, check the airway passage, she smiled and said, " You would be surprised at how many nurses miss that one.".. Kind of scary favorite joke, the company relocated and didn't say where. HaHa..Cheers

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I hate the 'tell me three of your weaknesses' type question the most! Interesting hub drbj, as being interviewed is something that many people get very stressed out about.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      What??? His secretary was confused about birth control??? Hahaha too funny. Did he get her pregnant or something? Run away from that job.

      I'm in the camp with psychicdog. I have a license to do blood transfusions. There are very few out there, so we can usually work wherever we want to. But my health is failing now. It's a VERY stressful job.

      drbj, can you do some hubs on how to reduce workplace stress?

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Great hub. I interviewed one time and the interviewer suddenly pretended to confide in me. It was a hilarious and transparent hoax. He told me his secretary was confused about birth control and did I have any suggestions! Up and awesome, you not the interviewer...

    • profile image 6 years ago

      I have long passed the interview stage - in my field you develop contacts and get work based on a license, past accomplishments and experiences others have had with you but still read this with interest Drbj. I always found being a cultural fit with a prospective employer or organization works best - being on the same wavelength. The more people you do work for the bigger the list of who you approach to find your next job and the more you can pick and choose.

    • carriethomson profile image

      carriethomson 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      hi Brbj!! that's a great hub!! enjoyed every bit! filled with information and humour!! have faced these kind of situations my self so can relate to how it feels!! one should know how to tactfully handle these situations rather than feeling nervous or angry!!


    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      What a great idea Drbj! I loved interviewing for jobs and found it fun! I once interviewed and was asked every single illegal question that could be asked - even down to where did your parents work. Guess what? It was with a very prominent attorney here ins St. Louis - I was offered the job but politely declined. I thought that was kind of a dirty way to interview and even though I wasn't embarrassed to answer them, I felt it was kind of intimidating to have been asked and put in the position to answer or what would you say?!?! "That's illegal you can't ask me that? Lol. As if he was unaware?!

      I'm looking forward to your series!


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