Applying for Jobs, Getting ‘First Date’ Questions

Job interviews are becoming more like first dates. The employment site Glassdoor has collected 285,000 questions asked by hiring managers, and the following four rank among 2012’s 50 most common, though they have little to do with work: What’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite website? What’s the last book you read for fun? What makes you uncomfortable? Over the last couple of years, spokesman Scott Dobroski says, the site has found “a significant rise in questions asked about cultural fit.”

Bloomberg Businessweek has a recent piece looking at interview questions companies ask applicants in order to figure out whether or not someone will be “cultural fit” in their organization. From my own experience, cultural fit is something especially valued at startup companies, and can often be more important than actual experience:

“I once hired a woman who really didn’t have the right background or experience for the job, but who I hit it off with during the interview,” says Rebecca Grossman-Cohen, a marketing executive at News Corp. “And because we got along so well, I was able to train her easily, and she ended up doing great things for us.”

Thankfully, I’ve never been asked any of these “first date” sort of questions on any job interviews I’ve ever been on (in my case, employers just want to know if you can write and report, and see examples). What makes me uncomfortable? Employers asking me first date questions during a job interview.


11 Comments / Post A Comment

Funny, I was thinking the exact opposite.

So I deduce that it is a good strategy to show up for a job interview super drunk?

EM (#1,012)

“I hired someone as a manager, and it created a lot of tension because he didn’t fit in. People tried to alienate him because they weren’t interested in him as a friend.” Gah.

One of the likely downsides of having a job that’s seen as a fun social place full of pals instead of coworkers is the lack of personal/professional boundaries and the awkwardness of trying to have professional relationships with people who want to go to drunk karaoke with you all the time. I like my manager and my coworkers, but I also like being able to go home and have my own life.

@Michelle Cultural fit doesn’t really mean becoming friends, though. It is (or should be) about people’s personalities, working styles, communication styles, and how they’d fit with the rest of the staff/organization. We put a lot of stock in cultural fit in my department, but no one’s going out for drunken karaoke.

EM (#1,012)

@Saralyn@twitter I agree with that model, I was just responding to the article’s depiction. Communication and work styles = important factors in a good workplace. Allowing people to vote out coworkers they don’t like after an audition day/ostracizing new hires who don’t seem like friend material = fast path to weird, bullying environment.

jfruh (#161)

Man, I bet “cultural fit” questions don’t result in workplace ethinic/gender homogeneity, at all!

honey cowl (#1,510)

@jfruh I can’t just thumbs-up this, I have to tell you how awesome it is. It is awesome.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@jfruh I was just going to say this! Jesus christ, people, this is exactly how the old boy’s network replicates itself! “I realize she had all the right qualifications, but I just don’t think she’d fit in around here.”

I was on a hiring committee last year for the first time in my life and we kind of did this. Not on the first interview, but definitely in the second round interview. The directors who conducted those did ask primarily questions about interests, hobbies, background, etc, because the candidates had already been vetted for technical appropriateness at my level. For us, it’s about preventing turnover – someone who fits well, who wants to be here and seems like they could be happy here is less likely to leave in a couple of months & force us to retrain and rehire.

frenz.lo (#455)

@Saralyn@twitter I get the utility of questions like this, but it seems cruel. I hate job hunting and interviewing, and the idea that I wouldn’t just have to prove I had the skills and critical thinking abilities to do a job, but would also have to beam out my potential future happiness/popularity? Gross. Sad. Especially because I was sort of hoping to have aged out of ever having to answer some of those questions again, at least with an eye to impressing anyone.

KatNotCat (#766)

This is really upsetting to me. I’m very introverted and tend to come across as stand-offish when I initially meet people. I work hard to be more open and talkative during job interviews, of course, but the thought of being judged in this way makes it even more of an ordeal.

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