In February, we had a brief discussion on whether specific interview questions were on topic. Rarity was the only answer, upvoted significantly, saying:
I would say no to specific, task related questions meant to demonstrate competance like;
- How do you do X in excel?
- How do you design a program for maximum concurrency?
- Your truck has started to hydroplane, what do you do?
Questions like these are specific to certain jobs and require domain expertise. I think the only "interview questions" that would be on topic would be related to general workplace matters, for instance:
- What is an interviewer looking for when they ask where I see myself in 5 years?
- How am I supposed to answer "What do you consider your greatest weakness?"
- How thoroughly should I explain why I want to work for Company X?
I'm also not a fan of the "Which floor do you drop an egg from" or "How many basketballs will fit in this room" questions. They're more of a gray area than the the above question sets. I'd lean towards not allowing them, myself. If the question is just "answer this specific question with a specific answer" I don't think that's really useful; what's more useful is "What is the interviewer hoping to learn from my answer to this?"
Basically my criteria would be that answers should teach you how to respond, not just an exact answer to regurgitate. There aren't right answers for these kinds of interview questions, but answers which show how X applicant is appropriate/inappropriate either for Company Y or Job Z
Currently we are not being consistent about this.
As it is On Hold, it seems users agree with him.
However, the same user has other similar questions with a very different result:
- 6 Upvotes, 5 Answers: how to handle the “tell me a joke” interview question
- 8 Upvotes, 6 Answers: Why do interviewers ask “How do you keep abreast of changes in technology”? Note: This question was originally, "How do you respond to" but was edited to "Why do interviewers ask" after the fact
- 2 Upvotes, 5 Answers (Closed): How to handle “absurd” interview questions? [closed]
- 5 Upvotes, 9 Answers (Closed): How does a non team player answer questions about team playing [closed]
Of course these sorts of questions are not only limited to this user, and other questions have a very different reception:
- 70 Upvotes: How should I respond to an inappropriate question in a job interview?
- 32 Upvotes: Interview question: Why did you leave your previous role?
- 31 Upvotes: How should I respond to the classic “Introduce yourself” question in an interview?
I know we're still a beta site, and playing a lot of this by ear, but I think we should do our best to create some sort of consistency to make it easier for users to grok what we're trying to accomplish here.
What guidelines should we be using to determine if questions are on or off-topic in regards to responding to 'typical' interview questions?
Some of the standards above seem to indicate:
- Questions applicable to any interview (why did you leave your job, how to introduce yourself) are ok
- Questions applicable to a specific subset of interviews (specifically software ones, for the 'keeping abreast of technology' and 'what is your superpower') seem to be not ok
- Questions applicable to specific candidates responses to interview questions (like the 'non-team player' question) are not ok
I am not saying this is the way it should be, it's just the way I would read the stance of the community. Let's try to firm this up so that we can give clear guidance to new posters and limit confusion.