What are the worst questions to be asked at interview?

Survey reveals bizarre experiences

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bad job interview   concept

So you've sent off your application, been granted an interview, and mugged up on the company and the details of the job.

And then you walk in to the interview - and the person sitting opposite asks you which type of dinosaur you'd rather be.

It seems that while The Office's David Brent may have vanished from our television screens, his surreal methods of evaluating staff are alive and well.

A new survey of 2,000 British workers carried out by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has revealed that prospective employees are frequently asked baffling or apparently barking mad questions in job interviews.

They include "If a hippo falls into a hole how would you get it out?" and "Who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman?"

One candidate was asked to bring a toy along to the interview and explain how it reflected their personality, and another to improvise a film with a prospective co-worker.

But these bizarre questions aren't the hardest to answer, the researchers found. "What are your weaknesses?" was rated the trickiest: do you tell the truth ("I'm lazy and incompetent") or try and put a good spin on things ("I'm a perfectionist and a workaholic")?

And nearly a third of people say questions such as this have left them struggling for a response, giving an awkward or downright cringe-worthy response.

Indeed, according to the researchers, one in twelve people has found an interview so awkward and embarrassing that they've actually walked out before the end; others have ended up in tears.

"The prospect of being interrogated on our professional experience and ability is a naturally intimidating scenario and, as the results show, it's not always easy to keep composed," says Aimee Bateman, AAT official career coach and founder of career coaching site careercake.com

"The range of random and sometimes unbelievable questions or tasks candidates have been subjected to shows sometimes you just can't predict what will be thrown at you. However, the best way to maintain composure and reduce the chances of embarrassment is to try to prepare for every possibility and be prepared to think on your feet if need be."

Six out of ten people said they'd embarrassed themselves during an interview, by spilling a drink, for example, tripping and falling or accidentally swearing. Freezing speechless on the spot was the commonest source of embarassment.

Others admitted to going red or sweating, turning up with a hangover and forgetting which role they'd applied for.

However, a third of people said that, despite having made a fool of themselves in an interview, they'd gone on to get the job.

"The best way to maintain composure and reduce the chances of embarrassment is to try to prepare for every possibility and be prepared to think on your feet if need be," says Bateman.

"Whether it's a difficult or random question or the fear you're out of your depth, confidence comes from feeling prepared and ready for anything thrown at you."

Oh, and the hippo? Just fill the hole with water and float it out. You might want to muzzle it first.

The strangest things Brits have been asked at interview
1. Would you post about work on Facebook?
2. Would you rather know a lot about a little or a little about a lot?
3. Who would you invite to a dinner party?
4. Who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman?
5. Who is your favourite Doctor Who?
6. Which video game character would I like to be and why?
7. Which three celebrities would you like to join for a night out?
8. Do you prefer to be right, or be liked?
9. Do you wear jeans outside of work?
10. What would you do if the sun died out?
11. Are you a Coronation Street or EastEnders fan?
12. What would you do if you caught a member of staff kissing the boss?
13. What dinosaur would you like to be?
14. Was the book Frankenstein really about state control?
15. Please do an improvisation of a film (with potential co-worker)
16. Build a tower of paper cups in one minute that would not fall down when you put water in the top cup
17. Tell me 20 unique selling points about this BIC pen
18. Please bring a toy with you and explain how this reflects you as a person or a part of your personality
19. Is a Jaffa cake a cake or biscuit?
20. How do you feel about blood sports?
21. If a hippo falls into a hole how would you get it out?
22. Do you like to sing in the bath?
23. Would you drive through an amber traffic light?

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