I’m sure we’ve all had interviews where you think the interviewer is a bit off, but ever had one of those interviews where you just think “what the hell?” Some people have some really strange ideas when it comes to interviewing and will throw all sorts of strange requests at you to see how you manage, then there’s just some interviews where you think “get me the hell out of here!” I bet most of us have met a David Brent or a Michael Scott through your career, but hopefully you didn’t end up working for them!
I had an interview many moons ago with a well known supermarket, where we were split into groups and given a magic trick. Half the team had to learn and perform the trick, the other half had to explain how it was done. I kind of get the idea – we were being tested on our team working and confidence skills. After all, working in a large supermarket needs people to pull together and help each other out. But at the time, as a young job seeker, it was just odd. Sitting in an interview with people old enough to be my parents performing magic tricks just felt weird. Needless to say, I didn’t take the job!
Then there’s the daft questions – if you could be an animal, which animal would you be? People have been asked to sing, dance and build bridges out of paper. All designed to see how you handle pressure and unfamiliar tasks. But what about other strange interview techniques? You’ll be unlucky to come across these, and they’re not common place, so we thought we’d take a look at two of the more unusual ideas.
Firstly, this guy who expects you to wash your own cups after your interview. Basically, this guy takes you to the kitchen and gets you a drink. After the interview, he sees whether you attempt to take the cup back to the kitchen. If you don’t take the cup back and offer to wash it up to keep the kitchen clean, you don’t get the job, no matter how well you interviewed. Apparently, in the podcast that provided us with this interviewing gem, the staff kitchen is clean and he sees it as a sign of his workers having some sort of pod mentality about keeping communal areas clean and not relying on others to clean up after them. The best part? This guy runs Xero, one of the biggest online accounting software tools.
Now, I’m all for people cleaning up their own messes. I’m far too lazy and concerned about my own stuff to clean up after others, but is this the real test of whether you’re a lazy slob? For me, both interviewing and being interviewed, I’ve never cleared away my own drink, or expected others to wander around an unfamiliar building after an interview. If you came for an interview with me and walked off the find the kitchen afterwards, I’d probably not be offering you the job. I’d like to know what happens if people refuse the offer of a drink – no mess to clean up, so how’s that one judged? It’s a strange one, but it must be something that works for him, after all, he runs Xero.
Then there’s the woman who said she refuses to hire anyone if they don’t send a thank you e-mail after the interview. So after your interview, again, you could have interviewed really well, have the right skill set and experience, but not sending the thank you e-mail means you wont get the job. Her reasoning is that you obviously don’t want the job if you’re not prepared to follow it up afterwards. She also thinks it shows that the candidate is well mannered and eager and therefore more likely to settle into the role and stay put. To be fair, she doesn’t advocate hiring based on the thank you e-mail alone, but if you don’t send one, you aren’t getting the job. Again, as a hiring manager, I’m not sure I want my inbox clogged with e-mails thanking me for my valuable time. Not only have I spent a day interviewing people for one position, I now have to read all your e-mails too? Nah, not for me. I’m not saying you would be refused a job from me for sending a thank you e-mail, but for me, it comes across as needy and annoying. Not something I’m looking for in a new employee. But again, it works for her, it makes her more confident in her hires. So, is there really anything wrong with it?
It’s extremely difficult trying to find a new job. Just getting an interview can be difficult, so when you’re faced with arbitrary rules like washing your cup or sending a thank you e-mail, it can feel like there’s no chance. But don’t forget, your interview is for you to see what they are like as a company. You have the opportunity to see if the role and environment are right for you. Personally, I wouldn’t want to work for someone that put so much emphasis on small things. Working with people who don’t clean up after themselves is annoying, but is it enough to make you not want to work there? So whatever your interviewer throws at you, try and relax. At worst you won’t get the job, but you avoid working for weirdo’s. You might even get a good story out of it for the pub later. At best, you rise to the challenge and get offered the job and work in the place of your dreams!
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