DDI/Monster Survey Reveals the Most Outrageous, Offensive and Illegal Interview Questions

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Job seekers and hiring managers share bizarre interview experiences.

Hiring interviews aren't always characterized by professional behavior, according to the results of a recent study conducted by global HR consulting firm Development Dimensions International (DDI) and Monster®, the leading global online careers and recruitment resource and flagship brand of Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNST).

The Selection Forecast asked more than 1,000 hiring managers and 3,000 job seekers worldwide to share the most inappropriate questions they've been asked during a job interview.

"We were shocked by what we heard as hiring managers were asking questions that range from overly personal to questions that are not only offensive, but illegal," Scott Erker, DDI's Senior Vice President of Selection Solutions, said. "This should be a wake-up call for companies who think that their interviewers are always behaving appropriately with candidates."

"When asked an inappropriate interview question, job seekers should remember they too have some control over the conversation," said Jesse Harriott, vice president of research, Monster. "Candidates should focus on clearly and assertively communicating the points they want to make and the questions they want to ask--interviewees should feel empowered in declining to answer questions that do not pertain directly to their professional qualifications."

The most inappropriate interview questions asked by hiring managers (as reported by job seekers) are:    

Crossing the Line...Illegal and Inappropriate

  •     "Would you join a church to get a job?"
  •     "Are you single? Why not?"
  •     "Why are you not yet married?"

"Some of these questions may seem basic, but they're actually illegal," Erker said. "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides professional guidelines regarding specific questions that hiring managers shouldn't ask--including questions about race, religion, marital status, and age."

Offensive and Outrageous

  •     "Would you be available from time to time to watch my children?"
  •     "Are you willing to further this interview over dinner and do you mind me bringing my daughter along?"
  •     "Would you be willing to stay overnight with a client if they request it?"

"These questions and comments are not only ridiculous, but can potentially offend the job seeker -- jeopardizing one's chance at attracting a qualified candidate," Erker said.

Being Thorough vs. Getting Too Personal: How Much is too Much?

  •     "Do you intend to have children?"
  •     "Are you happy in your relationship?"
  •     "Is that your natural hair color?"

"The interview is not the right time to be probing about candidates' personal lives -- especially when questions are not at all related to the position," Erker said. In fact, job seekers surveyed resented being asked questions that were unrelated to their job or too personal.

Quirky, Bizarre -- and Not Relevant

  •     "Who is your favorite Beatle?"
  •     "What would you do if I gave you an elephant?"
  •     "What is your perception of the painting in our lobby?"

"These questions may seem fun and appear to test the candidate's creativity or thinking, but it's unlikely they will help glean any information that aids in making a good hiring decision. Questions such as these are simply ineffective time-fillers," Erker said.

After you weed out all the wrong questions to ask, it may seem like there's not much left. So what should hiring managers be asking in an interview?

"Focus on their previous experiences and how they relate to the job at hand. You can find out how they deal with customers, how they work in a team and their management or work style by asking for specific examples from previous jobs," Erker said. "You'll learn a lot about them from their past behavior and experiences."

Job Seekers Behaving Badly
Interviewees aren't always keeping up their end of the deal either, as they reported making off-base comments, too. The comments that most shocked hiring managers:

  •     "I can't work with women." (The interviewer was a woman.)
  •     "I've already accepted another position, but I thought I may as well turn up to this interview just in case this was a better paying job."
  •     "Please excuse some of my replies as I am still a little hung-over from the weekend." (It was a Wednesday.)
  •     "I had a dream and a fairy told me I should work for your company."
  •     "I am applying to this job because I am about to be fired."
  •     A job seeker brought in his high school yearbook to show the hiring manager that he had been voted "Most Popular Male."

Click here to read more about the Selection Forecast from DDI and Monster.

About DDI:
Founded in 1970, Development Dimensions International, a global human resources consulting firm, helps organizations close the gap between today's talent capability and future talent needs. DDI's expertise includes designing and implementing selection systems, and identifying and developing front-line to executive leadership talent. With more than 1,000 associates in 75 offices in 26 countries, the firm advises half of the Fortune 500. For more information visit http://www.ddiworld.com/aboutddi.

About Monster Worldwide:
Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: MNST), parent company of Monster®, the premier global online employment solution for more than a decade, strives to bring people together to advance their lives. With a local presence in key markets in North America, Europe, and Asia, Monster works for everyone by connecting employers with quality job seekers at all levels and by providing personalized career advice to consumers globally. Through online media sites and services, Monster delivers vast, highly targeted audiences to advertisers. Monster Worldwide is a member of the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ 100. To learn more about Monster's industry-leading products and services, visit http://www.monster.com. More information about Monster Worldwide is available at http://www.monsterworldwide.com.

Jennifer Pesci-Kelly

Rachel Schulman
Padilla Speer Beardsley

Steve Sylven


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