The One Question Everyone Wants To Ask At A Job Interview

Job interviews are awesome.  You study and practice answers to insightful questions such as:

“Tell me about a time when you were working on a team and someone asked you to do something unethical…”

Those questions suck.  That one in particular sucks.  If you have had the good fortune not to work for any sleazy dbags, you won’t have an answer, so do what everyone does: make something up.

The best part of the interview, however, is at the end.  This is the time when they ask you if you have any questions for them.

Be prepared: if you don’t have any questions you won’t get hired.  It doesn’t matter if they already addressed all your concerns, because not having any questions means you aren’t really interested in the job, so have some ready.  The thing is, they have to be appropriate questions.  They have to be G-rated.  You cannot ask the one question that you want to ask most:

“What is the most annoying part about this job?”

Of course, you can’t actually ask that, and if you did, no one would actually answer it.  No one wants to admit that there are things about their job they don’t like.

If you were lucky enough to get an answer, it would probably be phrased as “well, nothing is annoying (lie!), but some things are challenging…

But you know what?  It’s not always the “challenging” parts that are annoying.  I don’t mind a good challenge.  Challenges feel good when you complete them.  Annoying things don’t.  There’s no sense of satisfaction when you finally get through something annoying.  I mean, there’s relief, but not satisfaction.

I’ve often found that the most annoying parts of a job are relatively small things that don’t even take much time to complete, but they just cause so much mental dissonance that it is difficult to do them.  That’s why I usually begin to slack off and do something else.  I’ll jump right into a challenge, but I keep the annoying stuff at bay.

Just so we’re clear, if you ask that question in an interview, you probably won’t get the job.  You’ll be labeled as “pessimistic” and “not a team player” and “unmotivated” or whatever else they want to say.  But if you happen to be at a job interview that you don’t care about, ask the question and then write me and tell me what their response is.  I’ll post it up in a future article.

One Reply to “The One Question Everyone Wants To Ask At A Job Interview”

  1. There was this one time when I was invited to a job interview after getting the job I actually wanted in another company, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.

    Nothing could have prepared for the barrage of bullshit questions the nice HR lady shoved through my ears. It was so annoying that, when she finally asked me to tell a bit more about myself – after expending 20 minutes explainig my life to her, no ess – I answered, dead serious, “My sign is Cancer, I like pets and long walks on the beach”. Her expression of disbelief was priceless. The 1 minute silence that followed only made it more akward.

    The worst part was that when I asked anything remotely technical about the job, she couldn’t even begin to answer them. Screw those HR people, what a waste of time!

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