Fun and Interviews: the casual questions

29 Sep

It’s a casual question: what do you do for fun online? Um… write a blog like this. Read Twitter? Watch videos on YouTube?

I had an interview this past week and it was not all the difficult questions that tripped me up. It was a question that was so simple: what do you do for fun online?

You think it’s an easy question until you start answering it. It’s a question that you can easily over-analyze because you don’t know the intent of the question. Is it to gauge what kind of employee you’ll be? Is it to gauge if you’ll be goofing off at work? Is it to gauge if you’re a better consumer or producer of media?

No, the purpose in this case was to get an idea of my media habits. My interviewer’s intent was to understand whether I was a cutting edge media user or not. Of course, I learned this after bumbling my way through the question a total of three times with three different people.

So how do you handle questions where you do not understand fully the intent of the question?

I’m not sure. But if I were to do it over, I’d answer a question with a question: why do you ask? Then maybe you can get your interviewer to elaborate on why they are asking the question.

Then again, that might go counter to another to a piece of interviewers advice I got recently: be honest, be confident.

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2 Responses to “Fun and Interviews: the casual questions”

  1. Sarah September 29, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Ohmahgaaah legit. Those curve balls are tough. One time I was asked to tell them about myself, so I said that I had seven brothers and sisters, was Egyptian, and played the violin. In case you were wondering, that’s not the kind of answer they wanted.

    In my last interview, I was asked about the accomplishment that I was most proud of in HIGH SCHOOL. I babbled for a bit, because I was trying to piece together an answer that highlighted my stellar work habits from experiences that were 6-8 years old. Then the interviewer asked me to discuss some challenges I overcame in high school, and my answer totally contradicted everything I’d just said.

    There’s no way to prepare for these questions, except to maintain your cool, take your time to collect your thoughts before you answer, and for goodness sake’s, don’t babble! (I’m working really hard on that last one.) The only good thing about unexpected curve ball questions is that once you’ve been asked them, you can prepare your answer in case it ever comes up again in an interview.

  2. Amy October 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    I’d never ask an interviewer, “Why do you ask?” It almost comes off as rude, as though they need to justify themselves for you to answer. You’re there for an interview, and may not understand all of what is being asked. I think the better thing to do would, like mentioned, be honest and confident. Though a question may not seem relevant to you, it’s probing into how you think and react to certain situations; there’s an application to almost any question you could be asked. For example, if you were asked something like, “How many pennies would fit into this room?” the interviewer may be trying to see how you’d tackle a problem – testing your analytical skills, calculation, imagination, and creativity.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

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