Stupid Interview Question

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My response to Raj's post on xDrive.

What is the most dreadful question I don’t want to answer? It’s the one you always hear which always puzzles you. “What you wanna become when you grow up?” or the famous interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I was always amused by these questions moment someone throws that at me. Frankly, I am riding my 5th decade of my life, and I still don’t know where I wanna be?

I file this type of question under stupid interview questions. I’ve now developed a set of questions of my own. For example?

  • What’s your company’s plan for diversity hiring? I see only white men on your team.
  • What’s the percentage of women and minorities in a position of leadership in the company/department?

This may not get me a second interview. To me, that means it wasn’t the right place for me.

Saturday Links — Agreement, MacDown, Social Media, Mastery, Job Interview, Being Boring

Every Saturday, I share a list of inspiring or interesting articles that I read during the week. Here’s what I read this week.

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James Shelly:

Be careful what you wish for. The gleeful agreement of the masses is no less perilous than the mass polarization of opinion.James Shelly

I "discovered" MacDown via a link to Offscreen Dispatch while reading a post by /home/kOoLiNuS.

MacDown is an open source Markdown editor for macOS, released under the MIT License. It is heavily influenced by Chen Luo’s Mou.Tzu-ping Chung

Social media may be making me miserable.

One recent study examined the links between Facebook use and wellbeing. “We found that the more you use Facebook over time, the more likely you are to experience negative physical health, negative mental health and negative life satisfaction,” says study author Holly Shakya, assistant professor and social media researcher at the University of California, San Diego.Markham Heid

John Saddington

Mastery takes incredible patience and it’s a commitment to invest continually over a long period time that really brings it all together in the end. Finally, I think it’s worth noting that I believe that very few people will do this intentionally but I think it’s intent that can make the biggest difference.John Saddington

Job interview:

“I am a bit worried,” I said, “about the whole idea of relentlessly driving down supplier costs just so that people on the internet can buy marginally cheaper consumer goods.”


I’d like to think that my question rocked him to his core, made him reconsider his life up to this point, caused him to abandon principles he never knew he held. In reality, he was probably making a this-guy-is-an-idiot face to his coworkers on the other end of the line.

“Well, if you feel that way, our organisation might not be a good fit for you.” He hung up and it was over.

Chris Bowler:

We don’t memorize facts any more, partly because there are so many of them available and partly because they’re right at our fingertips. And maybe the problem is not our desire to recall information or find stimulation, but that we’re still limited to accessing this information through clumsy fingers and glass screens. Perhaps once the information is wired through a neural network straight to our grey matter and the facts and details are accessible the second the thoughts come to our mind, this will be a non-issue. There will be no offline.

Thank you:

We all have someone, or some people, who helped bring us to where we are. Their voices are the ones in our head when we know we can think a bit more deeply, or be kinder to the barista, or do some kind of thing that, ultimately, will make us better.

Whether it’s a partner who cheers you on or a dog who gives you a lovely lick when you get home, figure out who makes what you do worthwhile — and give them a big thanks.gaping void


Sure, you still have to go to work every day, and you’ve got plenty of responsibilities, but even the busiest person has at least a little free time, and you have no excuse for spending it being bored. The truth is, it’s more likely that you’re not bored, you’re boring.Ula

Every Saturday, I share a list of inspiring or interesting articles that I read during the week. Here’s what I read this week.

What Is It Really Like to Work Here?

Image CC0 by José Martín
Image CC0 by José Martín

After reading Joanne Cleaver's The Dirty Truth About 'Best Places to Work' Lists and her follow-up article Are 'Best Places to Work' Lists for Real? 5 Ways to Tell, I have decided to change my typical response, when during an interview, the interviewer ask if I have any questions. Normally I would respond with questions designed to show my interest in the firm and the role. For example, I might ask about any specific challenges facing the department or the organization. The interviewer's response is an opportunity to offer some ideas on how they might approach the problem.

While I think that it's important to continue to ask these questions, what I read in those two articles has made me realize that perhaps instead of generic questions about work environment and company culture, that more specific question might serve me better. Heck, it might even help the interviewer.

So, after some thought, here are the questions I would ask.

  • How many women/blacks/Hispanics/Asians/LGBT work on your team and in information technology?
  • How many women/blacks/Hispanics/Asians/LGBT have leadership positions?
  • How many women/blacks/Hispanics/Asians/LGBT have senior leadership positions?
  • How well are women/blacks/Hispanics/Asians/LGBT compensated compared to their cis-gendered white male peers?
  • Outside of Media/Communications and Human Resources how many women are in leadership positions?
  • What specific programs does your department or the organization have in place to encourage diversity?
  • How well is the diversity program working?
  • What would you change about company culture?

These questions are not designed to make the interviewer squirm but if she/he does then I have my answer as to her/his mindset. There is a risk that I might be eliminated as a candidate for the job. But would you want to work in a place where these sort of issues are not openly discussed?

What sort of question would you ask?