What HR Won't Tell You About the Hiring Process - ToughNickel - Money
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What HR Won't Tell You About the Hiring Process

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

5 Truths HR Won't Tell You About Getting Hired

Human Resources is typically the company gatekeeper when it comes to applying for a job.  You have to get your resume through the system  to get hired.

Human Resources is typically the company gatekeeper when it comes to applying for a job. You have to get your resume through the system to get hired.

With Odds Like These, What's a Job Seeker to Do?

When it comes to your job search, may the odds be ever in your favor. But the truth is: they're usually not.

Competition is fierce, and for all the time you invest in rewriting that resume and submitting your application on-line, it will take a small miracle to get to the interview stage.

Feeling Locked Out?

With the competition it takes to even get to the job interview stage, you may begin to feel frustrated and locked out of the job process.

With the competition it takes to even get to the job interview stage, you may begin to feel frustrated and locked out of the job process.

If you're feeling locked out of the hiring process, consider this: on average, companies receive 250 resumes for each position posted.1 And it's not unheard of to receive thousands. That statistic echoes my experience in HR, but here are some examples as well:

  • In 2013, when Southwest Airlines sought to hire 750 flight attendants, over 10,000 applicants responded in under two hours.2
  • Similarly, when Walmart opened new facilities in the Washington, D.C. area, over 11,000 applicants vied for 1,800 of the notoriously low-wage jobs.3
  • And in Spain where more than one in four adults is unemployed, 100,000 applicants crashed the IKEA company website, each hoping to land one of the 400 vacant positions.4

Stuck On the Outside Looking In?

Especially in a challenging economy, you might feel that the odds are stacked against you in searching for a new job.  Landing that new job takes persistence, focus, networking, and luck.

Especially in a challenging economy, you might feel that the odds are stacked against you in searching for a new job. Landing that new job takes persistence, focus, networking, and luck.

Here's Some Insight

For a typical job, 50% of applicants do not meet the basic qualifications.5 Desperate for work and tired of looking, job seekers submit applications for swing-for-the-fence-type positions that they are unqualified to fill. They fail to read the entire job listing. They figure it couldn't hurt to apply.

But even if you're perfect for the job, your application can get automatically rejected if it's unreadable or misread by the applicant tracking system. And if your resume makes it past the initial screening phase? On average it will have only six seconds to impress a recruiter.6

Only 17% of recruiters even look at the cover letter you labored over. Then, if there's as little as one error in your spelling, grammar, or punctuation, do you know where that will get you? Automatic disqualification, more often than not.

With odds like these, you may feel locked out. What's a job seeker to do?

Don't despair, ever hopeful one.

Learn the inside scoop about the hiring process so you can maximize your chances of job-seeking success. I've spent years in the human resources field, including working for two Fortune 500 companies. I've helped to hire hundreds of employees and have rejected many more than that.

Let me share the inside scoop that most HR professionals won't tell you about applying for that dream job (or any job).

Job Hunting Is Difficult

Maximize your success by learning what HR won't tell you about the hiring process.

Maximize your success by learning what HR won't tell you about the hiring process.

Inside Scoop #1: Your Resume May Never Be Seen by a Human

If you've ever applied for a job online, you've used an applicant tracking system (ATS). Examples include Taleo, Kenexa-Brassring, Jobvite, Peoplefluent, ADP, and SuccessFactors. Most medium and large companies invest thousands of dollars in this HR technology to:

  • Post jobs
  • Accept applications
  • Screen out unqualified candidates
  • Send "no interest" communications (aka "ding" letters)
  • Keep track of applicant data (so the company can comply with federal hiring regulations).

Yet here's the awful truth: applicant tracking systems are as much art as they are science. They involve some hocus pocus.

Applicant Tracking Systems: One Part Science, Another Art

Having poor luck?  Check your resume formatting and use of keywords.  And obviously apply to jobs you're actually qualified for.

Having poor luck? Check your resume formatting and use of keywords. And obviously apply to jobs you're actually qualified for.

Picky, Picky

Say, for example, that your resume and cover letter are not formatted the "right" way. You abbreviate "Manager" as "Mgr." You call your work experience by an alternative name, such as "Professional Experience." Or, perhaps you put your dates of employment before the company name.7

Maybe you make the mistake of submitting your resume in a PDF format rather than in a Word document. (The ATS may find it unreadable. Sorry.) Or, you don't use the magic keywords in your resume to match the skills and experience that the job posting is trying to target.

And the screening questions—for example, the willingness to (potentially one day) relocate? Well, you answer them with such extreme candor that your resume will never see the light of day.

Even if you're a great match for the position, the ATS may not be able to recognize your awesomeness. Your application may never be seen by a real person.

Knowing the Inside Scoop: Increase Your Odds of Success

Getting that job involves several hurdles.  Do you have what it takes to get hired?

Getting that job involves several hurdles. Do you have what it takes to get hired?

Did You Know?

Companies that receive an unwieldy number of applicants for a specific position sometimes use data reduction techniques that include random sampling.8 This can reduce the number of applicants to a more manageable number.

Luck really can play a role in getting hired!

When companies get too many applicants for a specific position they can employ data reduction techniques such as random sampling.

When companies get too many applicants for a specific position they can employ data reduction techniques such as random sampling.

Inside Scoop #2: There's a Lack of Transparency

You've been conscientiously checking job aggregation websites like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com. You're not finding jobs that you're interested in. And when you do apply, you don't hear back. What gives?

Many available jobs are not published, even though federal regulations require certain employers to post their available positions. Unadvertised job vacancies are especially the case for management and executive positions, where referrals are typically a preferred source for job candidates. (Update that LinkedIn profile and double down on your networking!)

Behind the scenes, a job may already be filled, a hiring manager could just be going through the motions but already know exactly who s/he wants to hire, or the company could be hiring a replacement for a problem performer who will soon be fired.

Behind the scenes, a job may already be filled, a hiring manager could just be going through the motions but already know exactly who s/he wants to hire, or the company could be hiring a replacement for a problem performer who will soon be fired.

Behind the Scenes

The hiring process is often not as transparent as it should be. Behind the scenes, here's what may be going on:

  • For recurring positions, a specific job may already be filled, and the company is simply collecting resumes for "next time." In these circumstances, the company attempts to address its endless cycle of turnover by increasing the size of its candidate database. If you see one particular job advertised repeatedly over time, stop to consider why the company cannot ever truly fill it.
  • The hiring manager may know exactly who he wants to hire before the process begins. It may be a friend of a friend, a current employee, or someone else they know. I've seen extreme cases of "open" positions with only one applicant. When the hiring manager is obliged to follow the company's process, he may step through hiring process requirements as a mere formality. Collecting applications and even conducting interviews may be done simply to justify the candidate he wants to bring in.
  • Sometimes the company may be confidentially hiring a replacement for a problem performer. (Talk about awkward!) The incumbent doesn't know he'll be out of a job soon, so the open position is not advertised.
  • There could be a hiring freeze you don't know about. The company doesn't want to have a reputation of having not hired in two years, so they post "dummy" job postings that are never actually filled.
  • Particularly with newly created positions, the hiring manager may not know exactly what she wants.
Prepare for that job interview because if you submit enough applications, network, customize cover letters, and follow the other tips here, you'll get to the interview stage.

Prepare for that job interview because if you submit enough applications, network, customize cover letters, and follow the other tips here, you'll get to the interview stage.

Getting Hired Takes Serious Effort

To get hired, you must get in the applicant pool and stay there. Consider these tips for more optimal results:

  • Don't repeatedly apply to positions if you're truly not qualified for them. The company recruiter will notice your desperation and wonder about your level of self-knowledge and judgment.
  • Customize your resume and cover letter for a specific position using relevant keywords from the job description.
  • Stay away from abbreviations, complex or creative formatting, tables, graphics, and PDF resumes.
  • When listing work experience, do it in this order: employer's name, your job title, then dates you held the job. Don't get creative.
  • Get your LinkedIn profile up to date. Landing a job is all about relationships.
  • Look the part.
  • Always have a short "elevator speech" regarding why you're the right fit for the position you're applying for.

Does the Hiring Manger See You as Adaptable?

Hiring managers often have assumptions about older workers.  Show them you're not ready for the graveyard yet!  Sell the value of your experience and adaptability.

Hiring managers often have assumptions about older workers. Show them you're not ready for the graveyard yet! Sell the value of your experience and adaptability.

Inside Scoop #3: Yes, Age Bias Is Real

If you're a silver-haired job seeker, you probably know that ageism is real. Older workers—especially those over 50—face a number of assumptions from hiring managers. These include perceptions that older workers:

  • Are less adaptable, especially to technological changes
  • Will have trouble dealing with a younger boss and teammates
  • Won't accept direction and feedback
  • Don't represent a company image of vitality
  • Will incur greater health care costs and absences
  • Cannot keep up with an energetic and fast-paced work environment
  • Are more likely to leave at the first opportunity because they're "overqualified"9

As a result of these phony perceptions, older Americans stay unemployed longer, and when they do find a job, they take a bigger pay cut than their younger counterparts. More than one in five charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are for age discrimination.10 And although the law prohibits discrimination against both applicants and workers over 40 years old, the truth is that age-based employment discrimination is difficult to prove.

If you're an older job seeker, don't give up. Instead, try to:

  • Uncover the challenging and costly business problem that the vacant position is tasked with addressing
  • Emphasize your adaptability and learning agility (and be able to provide specific examples)
  • Look the part
  • Hone your communication skills at "selling" the value of your experience.

Think You're Not Biased?

You probably have biases you're not aware of.  Take the Implicit Association Test.

You probably have biases you're not aware of. Take the Implicit Association Test.

How Biased Are You?

"Mirror, mirror on the wall ... so I'm biased after all?"

If you're prejudiced against old people, fat people, Arab-Muslims, or gay people, would you know it? Would you be too embarrassed to say so?

Psychological research has found that people are not always willing to admit their true feelings. In addition, they could have "blind spots" in their perceptions, thus they do not consciously realize their biases. This is because much of our thinking is automatically processed.

Using reaction times and categorical labels, the Implicit Association Test (or "IAT") measures attitudes and beliefs that you may be unwilling or unable to acknowledge. It taps into unconscious perceptions using a series of rapid categorizations.

Compared with self-reports, the IAT is a better predictor of behavior in socially sensitive situations such as employment interviews. The test takes about 10 minutes and provides feedback about your automatic preference for one group over another, be it slight, moderate or strong.

Inside Scoop #4: Tattoos and Extra Weight: Appearance Matters

Getting tatted up with Tweety Bird or the word Revolt may have seemed like a real sweet idea when you did it. However, visible tattoos and piercings can impact whether you'll be hired.

People make assumptions about your ability to do the job based on what you look and smell like. It may not be fair, but hygiene and appearance matter. A lot.

According to surveys of HR professionals and hiring managers, you're also less likely to be hired if you have a strong smell (e.g., strong perfume or cigarette smoke), are packing extra pounds, or you have bad breath. (Invest in some Listerine and Lifesavers, my friend.)

What They Think About Your Ink

Hiring managers' preference for tattoo-free employees is typically based on their perception that customers may negatively react. One study, for example, showed they feared customers would perceive such employees as "abhorrent," "repugnant," "unsavory" and "untidy."11 (That's a little strong, don't you think?)

Feelings about tattoos, however, extend to positions that involve no customer contact. Furthermore, research shows that hiring managers actively screen out inked applicants.12 Negative attitudes towards tattoos are age-related.

Fat Bias: A Weighty Subject

Similarly, weight is a significant factor in employment. Studies show that obesity affects career opportunities in important ways:

  • Overweight applicants are less likely to be hired
  • Overweight employees are paid less for the same work
  • They are more likely to have jobs with lower status and pay
  • They are perceived as less competent, conscientious, and agreeable
  • Overweight employees are less likely to land a promotion13

Do You Look the Part? Professional Image Matters

When applying for a job, make sure you look the part.  Appearance counts in hiring.

When applying for a job, make sure you look the part. Appearance counts in hiring.

The Heavy Costs of Obesity

You know that spare tire (or two) that you carry around your middle? The extra junk in your trunk? It comes with some heavy costs for both you and your employer.14

Consider these statistics:

  • According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults ages 20 and older are obese -- meaning a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more.
  • The CDC projects that by 2030, 42% of American adults will be obese.
  • Obesity is a leading risk factor for life-threatening and disabling conditions. Obesity is related to diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, certain cancers, infertility, high cholesterol, back pain, skin infections, gallstones, and ulcers.
  • Obesity-related medical costs are an estimated at $190 billion each year. This is more than the medical costs of alcohol and smoking combined.
  • Medical expenses for obese employees are estimated to be 42% higher.
  • On average, obese women earn 6.2% less than their non-obese coworkers.14

HBO Presents "Is Weight Something We Inherit?"

Yep, bad interviewers may ask you unprofessional, illegal or off-the-wall questions.  HR hates this and the law usually does, too.

Yep, bad interviewers may ask you unprofessional, illegal or off-the-wall questions. HR hates this and the law usually does, too.

Inside Scoop #5: You May Be Asked Non-Job-Related Questions

Conducting an interview seems so darn easy. You just think up questions to ask, listen, and choose the best candidate. Anyone could do it, right?

But the truth is a lot of hiring managers are terrible at it.

Rather than using structured interviews (involving a standard set of questions that are directly linked to position requirements), hiring managers decide to be renegades.

They opt for unstructured interviews that have been consistently shown to be less valid and reliable. They over-trust their "gut reaction." They wing it, relying on a relaxed and "conversational" approach. They base questions exclusively on the job candidate's resume.

They ask illegal questions about such things as arrest records, marital status, citizenship, what religious holidays you observe, or what type of discharge you received from the military. And they ask some of the weirdest questions imaginable—questions for which there is no "better" answer, questions that seem to have little relation to the job itself.

Reader Experience Poll

Not All Hiring Managers Are Trained in Interviewing Skills

Be prepared for an off-the-wall or illegal question from untrained hiring managers. When they lack interview skills training, they often present a legal risk for the company.

Be prepared for an off-the-wall or illegal question from untrained hiring managers. When they lack interview skills training, they often present a legal risk for the company.

They Seriously Asked That? Odd Job Interview Questions

Below are questions that job seekers have reported on Glassdoor.com. While some of them may be arguably job-related, other questions are clearly not.

Enjoy! Then share with us in the comments section the most unusual question you've been asked during a job interview.

Asked at Zappos

  • If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?
  • Give us two ways to use a brick other than for building or as a paperweight.
  • If you had to buy Tony (the CEO) shots, what kind of shot would you buy him?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you and why?

Asked at Airbnb

  • How lucky are you and why?
  • What food have you recently had that made you emotional?
  • If you could pick one public person to embody who you stand for, who would that be?
  • When you walk into a room, what would be your theme song?
  • If you had super power what you choose and why?

Asked at Apple

  • If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?
  • How many ping pong balls will fill this room?

Bewildering Interview Questions

Sometimes, interview questions have no apparent connection to the job.

Sometimes, interview questions have no apparent connection to the job.

Asked at Altria

  • How do you reconcile working for a tobacco company with being an athlete?
  • What is responsible smoking?
  • If you could be any consumer product, what would you be and why?

Asked at Red Frog Events

  • If you could receive a $10,000 gift card to any store, which store would you choose?
  • What was the best song of the decade?
  • What is on your bucket list?
  • If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

Asked at Dell

  • Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
  • What do you think of your current company CEO?
  • Break down how you would gain access to the CEO of a Fortune 200 account — in detail.

Asked at Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Do you believe in Big Foot?
  • Describe a situation with your last employer that caused you to feel inadequate.

Asked by Goldman Sachs

  • How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?
  • What is our biggest weakness?
  • What do you think of JPMorgan's bribery scandal?
  • Who is someone you hate?
  • If you flip 400 coins, what's the probability of getting more than 220 heads?
  • If I were to tell you that the world is running out of paper, how will you verify that my statement is true?

Asked at McKinsey & Co

  • What do you do if you don't get a job today?
  • When will you know it's time to leave McKinsey?

Asked at Bed, Bath & Beyond

  • If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
  • How would you sell me this pen?
  • Where else have you applied and why don't you think you got hired?

Asked at Chick-fil-A

  • Do you go to church on a regular basis?
  • Did you have sexual relations with your wife prior to marriage?
  • When was the last time you made someone smile?
  • Who are your heroes?
  • Describe your daily routine.

What Kind of Monkey Business Are Hiring Managers up To?

Hiring managers who ask inappropriate, non-job-relevant and/or off-the-wall interview questions invite legal risk.

Hiring managers who ask inappropriate, non-job-relevant and/or off-the-wall interview questions invite legal risk.

Summary Points

If you're feeling unlucky in the hiring process or locked out, these 5 factors could be in play:

  1. Your resume was screened out of the hiring process by an Applicant Tracking System before it could ever reach a human.
  2. The hiring process is not transparent -- for example, a hiring manager who already knows who he wants to hire, a job that has already filled, or an unannounced hiring freeze.
  3. Your (older) age is working against you.
  4. Your appearance is working against you (e.g., tattoos, weight).
  5. The selection process is using other non-job-related factors. This may become painfully clear if you interview with a hiring manager who is untrained in interviewing skills.

Test Your Job Seeking Knowledge

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Major companies typically receive how many applications annually?
    • 2 times their number of employees
    • 6 times their number of employees
    • 10 time their number of employees
  2. On average how long does a recruiter take to read your resume?
    • 6 seconds
    • 60 seconds
    • 6 minutes
  3. What percentage of recruiters bother to read a cover letter?
    • 17%
    • 33%
    • 50%
  4. One in ___ charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are for age discrimination.
    • 2
    • 4
    • 10
  5. Visible tattoos can reduce your chances of being hired. What percent of Americans ages 30-45 have at least one tattoo?
    • 10%
    • 32%
    • 45%
  6. A study by Wharton Business school study found that bald men are perceived as ___ , compared to men with a full head of
    • more dominant
    • taller
    • stronger
    • all three ... because bald is where it's at!
  7. On average, how does being considered attractive affect pay?
    • ugly people make 10% more
    • there is no difference in pay (How shallow can we really be?)
    • pretty people earn 4-10% more

Answer Key

  1. 6 times their number of employees
  2. 6 seconds
  3. 17%
  4. 4
  5. 32%
  6. all three ... because bald is where it's at!
  7. pretty people earn 4-10% more

Notes

1Sullivan, J. (2013, May 20). Why You Can’t Get A Job … Recruiting Explained By the Numbers. Retrieved from http://www.eremedia.com/ere/why-you-cant-get-a-job-recruiting-explained-by-the-numbers/.

2Trejos, N. (2013, December 30). Thousands apply for flight attendant jobs at Southwest. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/todayinthesky/2013/12/30/flight-attendants-hiring-southwest/4248543/.

3Wiener, A. (2013, October 14). Applications Pour In for D.C. Walmart Jobs. Retrieved from http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2013/10/14/applications-pour-in-for-d-c-walmart-jobs/.

4Moran, L. (2014, January 9). Spanish IKEA store receives more than 100,000 applications for 400 jobs. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/spanish-ikea-receives-100-000-applications-400-jobs-article-1.1570930.

5Weber, L. (2012, January 24). Your Resume vs. Oblivion. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204624204577178941034941330.

6Sanburn, J. (2012, April 13). How to Make Your Resume Last Longer Than 6 Seconds. Retrieved from http://business.time.com/2012/04/13/how-to-make-your-resume-last-longer-than-6-seconds/.

75 Insider Secrets for Beating Applicant Tracking Systems. (2012, March 1). Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/701272/5_Insider_Secrets_for_Beating_Applicant_Tracking_Systems?page=2&taxonomyId=3123.

8 OFCCP (n.d.). U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) - Internet Applicant Recordkeeping Rule. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/faqs/iappfaqs.htm#Q1DM.

9Myers, B. (2013, December 7). Long-Term Unemployment Turns Fatalistic. Retrieved from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/07/1260909/-Long-Term-Unemployment-Turns-Fatalistic.

10U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2014). Charge Statistics. Retrieved February 27, 2014, from http://eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm.

11Taylor, V. (2013, September 5). Will having a tattoo cost you a job? Maybe, researcher says. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/tattoos-cost-job-researcher-article-1.1446791.

12Welsh, A. (2013, May 21). Tattoos May Be Giving Wrong Ideas to Employers. Retrieved from http://www.siop.org/article_view.aspx?article=1111#.Uw91U_ldWSo.

13UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. (n.d.). Weight Bias & Stigma > Employment - UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Retrieved from http://www.uconnruddcenter.org/weight-bias-stigma-employment.

14Hawrylak, M. (2013, January 14). Obesity and Workers' Comp Costs. Retrieved from http://www.insurancejournal.com/magazines/features/2013/01/14/276698.htm.

Human Resources: They Guard the Corporate Gate

Human Resources professionals use applicant tracking systems to process large numbers of job candidates. In this way, they control the keys to the company gate.

Human Resources professionals use applicant tracking systems to process large numbers of job candidates. In this way, they control the keys to the company gate.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What would you include in a second interview "thank you" card to make a positive impression?

Answer: Handwrite the note to stand out and reference the (correctly spelled) names of all people you interviewed with. Also, mention the key projects or priorities that were emphasized in the interview. Usually, these are the priorities the incumbent will be hired to work on. Remind the hiring manager of your fit, enthusiasm, and ability to hit the ground running.

Try to select your top three qualifications in a nutshell and remind them of why you are the best candidate for the job. Now is not the time to be humble. Lastly, ask for the job, even if it's something like, "I hope we can move forward together soon with this opportunity."

© 2014 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 27, 2014:

Efficient Admin - Best of luck as you search for new work. Thanks for reading.

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on October 27, 2014:

It can be very discouraging for those looking for work today. Even when I was younger I remember sending out 500 resumes and not very many interviews! Now I have the answer why. Thank you for sharing some HR-insider tips. Voted up and useful.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 10, 2014:

GarnetBird - I'm sorry about your husband's job loss, as I'm sure that it's creating quite a strain on your family. I hope he is able to find suitable employment soon.

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on September 10, 2014:

My husband is going through a terrible time right now, due to his age (60). he was laid off from a top level management job and is largely been ignored for over a year now. Good Hub, and thank you for your comment on my grieving issue..I have enlarged the Hub and added two more things not to say. ha

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 25, 2014:

VioletteRose - I appreciate your reading and commenting!

VioletteRose from Atlanta on June 25, 2014:

This is really helpful to so many people, great hub!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 30, 2014:

Tolovaj - Confidence is key. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Tolovaj on May 30, 2014:

Great stuff. I was never looking for a regular job and can't remember to net get one of many part time jobs I wanted to get when I was doing my studies, but maybe I was just lucky. I love the fact bald people make better impression (I suppose this is not true in every industry), because this means I can look into the mirror with more and more optimism!

;)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 22, 2014:

kmes - A nice smart-A answer to "Are you married?" is "Do I need to be?" but it sure won't land you the job! I'm sorry they asked you inappropriate and (depending on your location) potentially illegal questions.

Kayla Swanson from Wyoming on April 21, 2014:

I found this hub very informative and detailed. I've never been asked off-the wall questions but I do get questions about whether I'm married, have a boyfriend or plan to have kids. One time a phone interviewer asked me if I was married in order to determine if I was on someone else's insurance. Once they found out I was single, the interview was over pretty quickly.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 01, 2014:

Thanks for pinning and voting, ologsinquito. I hope the information helps those who need to know it.

ologsinquito from USA on April 01, 2014:

All of this insider information is good to know in such a challenging job market. Voted up and pinned.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Crystal - I saw that all the time. I used to do compliance monitoring. Not only are they wasting your time but they're also getting your hopes up for nothing. Make sure to use LinkedIn and all the power of your network. Best of luck as you pursue new work opportunities.

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on March 18, 2014:

A very useful hub. I am currently on a job search and it is a difficult market out there. I have learned from folks in the know that often, a position that is posted has in fact already been filled or at least they know who they want and the posting is just a formality. I've also heard over and over again you have to know someone on the inside to get hired by many organizations. Very depressing realities for sure.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 18, 2014:

Thank you, PulasthihSenid.

Pulasthi Priyan Wanniarachchi from Colombo on March 17, 2014:

This is cool

Luvtoo Write from Chicago, IL on March 15, 2014:

Very informative indeed! There have been a few times, I have been asked, really strange questions during an interview. I think they use odd questioning for psychological reasons... They just add their own twist. If you answer something off the wall, you might as well as kiss the job goodbye.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 13, 2014:

Ariana - I am glad you found the information accurate. It is too bad these things happen, isn't it?

Ariana Paulins from Ohio on March 13, 2014:

This is a great HUB! I have worked closely with HR in the past and unfortunately many of the things you mentioned are VERY true. This is important for people to know!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 10, 2014:

MizBeJabbers - Thanks for your insights. We all have to remember those laws exist for good reasons, and there are those who came before us who lived a different reality just like you have indicated. Thanks for stopping by!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 10, 2014:

This is a very good hub with many truths to it. As a state government employee, I know that many jobs already have the position covered by a preselected person. Most of the time it is a person who had worked hard and is qualified for the position, and who really deserves it. But it is unfair to advertise and get the hopes up of those who go through the interviews for a position that has already been filled. Sometimes, however, it is a political plum. That still happens.

I am old enough that I had to go through job interviews of the 1970s when standard questions asked women were: Are you married? How many children do you have? What arrangements have you made for child care? Who will keep a sick child for you? And sometimes even more personal questions than that. I was so naïve that sometimes I volunteered the information before it was asked. That was just a sign of the times.

Thank goodness, the times they are achangin'.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 08, 2014:

Susan - You have provided some excellent examples of interview questions that probably are intended to tap creative thinking, analytical problem solving, or a similar job competency. However, such questions can sometimes lack "face validity," which is basically applicants' "sniff test" regarding job relevance or transparency. Thanks for stopping by and for your enthusiastic support. Have a great weekend.

Susan W from The British Isles, Europe on March 08, 2014:

What an interesting and highly useful hub, Flourish. I enjoyed reading this in-depth hub and I will definitely keep your tips in mind during the job hiring process. In America especially, being selected for a post is extremely difficult with hundreds of candidates applying for one post. I think that this hub will help potential employees on their task to get hired.

In tech and software companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook, they are known to ask some of the weirdest and difficult questions ever seen. I recently read the book, "Are You Smart Enough To Work At Google" and the author describes the full hiring process that Google has and the kinds of questions they ask. They are similar to the questions you mentioned above and are very strange. They include questions like:

1) Write code that describes a chicken.

2) Calculate how much revenue your think Google makes from Gmail each day.

3) How many golf balls fit in a bus?

Somehow, I don't think that they are fair. The candidate comes in to be interviewed with all the skills and qualifications the employer needs and yet they are asked ridiculous questions. Oh well, we better get used to it.

Great hub, shared and voted interesting, useful and awesome. :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 05, 2014:

Kathleen - What comes around goes around, doesn't it? Glad she got what was coming to her. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on March 05, 2014:

I worked at a not-for-profit with a woman who would only hire other women straight out of college, because she started with this charity right out of college. She kept looking for herself over and over, wondering why her staff always left after 2-3 years. After 11 years she finally applied for a promotion and got angry because the interviewer "was looking for someone just like himself!" (Her words.)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 04, 2014:

Linda - It's one of those things that are essential even if it's not read. Thanks for stopping by!

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on March 03, 2014:

Those are such interesting insights. At the place I work we won't even look at a resume without a cover letter. We definitely read them too.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 03, 2014:

Liz - I used to work at a company where applicants would even spell the name of the company wrong. That would get them noticed!

Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on March 03, 2014:

It is so true about resumes and cover letters. I 've worked in staffing agencies and if there is one spelling error, that resume went to the bottom of the pile...or in the trash bin.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 03, 2014:

Cherylann - I'm happy this answered a burning question for you. Even if you don't get hired you can learn from it and have a good conversation. You never know what may come from it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Cherylann Mollan from India on March 02, 2014:

Hi! Very interesting article. Thanks for shedding some light on the inside scene. You've uncovered two mysteries for me. I've seen reputed companies post hiring ads for the same position over and over again and I'd wonder why. Now I do. Also, the strange question bit, well, I experienced that twice! The first time I was taken aback, the second, I just played it cool and had a fun conversation with the hiring lady! :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 02, 2014:

Rajan - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 02, 2014:

the BAT - Thanks for commenting. Interview questions, appropriate or not, are often a reflection of the company culture.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on March 02, 2014:

Interesting how job hiring really works! Useful insights for those on look out for a job.

Voted up.

theBAT on March 01, 2014:

Well written hub. Given the great number of applicants in one position with practically similar qualifications, apparently impertinent questions are often asked during the interview. Yet, the applicant's answer to the question is always material in getting that job or not. Thanks for sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Lisa - Thanks for reading and commenting. Look at the job description closely and make sure you use words and context that closely mirror what they're looking for. Don't give up but do take a look at your approach to see if it needs adjusting.

Lisa VanVorst from New Jersey on March 01, 2014:

Great information! I have been unemployed since June 2012, yet I continue to send out resumes via the internet. Sometimes 5-7 a week. I am 47 and willing to accept jobs out of my field. It is getting very discouraging. I keep updating my resumes and doing everything right. I had no idea about this tracking system. Thanks for the advice.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Deborah - I know! I think it's a combination of not knowing, not caring, and feeling invulnerable. We need more of you in the right places, Deborah!

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 01, 2014:

You would think people would know better these days!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Zainab Tarawali - A "directed hire" is sometimes what these are called behind the scenes. They are inappropriate, noncompliant with regulations if the company is a federal contractor (for example) but it's done all the time.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Faith Reaper - Thank you! Congratulations to you, too.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Deborah - Yep, I absolutely know. I've also personally known people who were asked their age during interviews and "You're not gay, are you?" The fact that there were so many of the religion-related questions indicated by Chick-Fil-A interviewees (per the Glassdoor website) makes you wonder when their big lawsuit is coming.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on March 01, 2014:

Some of the Chick-fil-A questions are illegal. An employer cannot make a hiring decision based on someone's church attendance. I hope whomever got asked that question filed a complaint.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Cre8tor - It does have a way of taking the personal connection right out of the process. Thanks for reading and offering your thoughts.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2014:

Hackslap - You're right on that one! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Musu Bangura from Nation's Capital on February 28, 2014:

Wow, this is a good hub. The information about hiring manager already knowing who they want is very true. Applying for jobs is tougher than ever these days.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 28, 2014:

Congrats on winning the top ten today for this hub! You certainly deserve it dear Flourish. I had no clue that they have been publishing the winners each day until janshares just popped into my hub and let me know I was in the top 10 today! I was in shock and so glad she let me know.

Congrats again!

Dan Reed on February 28, 2014:

Great stuff here FlourishAnyway! In this market, there is no doubt this is useful information. I must admit, I miss the good old days of filling out the application and asking to speak to the manager to turn it in. That face to face, personal aspect of being hired is gone and greatly missed by many. (Including many of those who do the hiring that I've spoken with.) Thumbs high!

Harry from Sydney, Australia on February 28, 2014:

This is so true! ..Especially the bit re the hiring manager already knowing who he/she wants, the age factor and of course your looks..

You might even be fully qualified for the role but if you don't look the part or if your personality clashes with that of the hiring manager's .. you can kiss the role goodbye .. great hub!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Bill - I totally agree! It can be ruthless competition out there! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Joelle - I love how hiring managers who ask the weird questions with no job relevance can attempt to justify them. They put companies at so much potential risk and potentially offend good candidates. Thank you for reading and commenting.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Jo - You're right about the level of competition these days. Thank you so much for stopping by, commenting, and sharing.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on February 28, 2014:

Hi Flourish. What a scary proposition job hunting is. I've worked at my current company for over 29 years so I've really been out of the loop in regards to job hunting. This is enough to make me stay right when I am until I retire. Great job.

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on February 28, 2014:

Another great article with great suggestions, Flourish! Because you were in that field of work it has even more weight, so it gives great suggestions for people applying to jobs.

In you sections with odd questions, honestly for some of them I was thinking "really? " and for the ping pong balls... I started calculating right away ;-) I suppose that each person's mind works in different ways and I suppose also that they throw those questions to people to see how they can handle weird questions and also may be testing creativity.

It seems that in some cases being hired is almost a lottery :-(

Thank you for sharing all those valuable tips!

Enjoy your weekend!

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on February 28, 2014:

Those statistics are staggering! So many people chasing so few jobs, we have laws to prevent discrimination in the work place, but there are also ways around them. Another useful and very informative hub. Up and sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Brian - Finding a job is part luck, part job hunting skill, and a bunch of who you know. Best of luck to you as you begin your search. Those screen out questions can be true time killers and you might never have a clue.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Sha - I'm glad you are out of the corporate world where you now want to be. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 28, 2014:

Fortunately (for me) I left the corporate world two years ago. Hopefully, I'll never have to deal with this again. But, for those who are still out there vying for work outside the home, this is a very informative article and a must read!

When I was a hiring manager, I would often throw in questions that had nothing to do with the position. I was looking for character and what type of person the candidate was outside of being an employee. These things matter, especially if you're in closer contact than you are with your own family. Unfortunately, when you work for someone other than yourself, you are there more than you are home.

Brian Prickril from Savannah, GA on February 28, 2014:

Well it's been a while since I've gone through this process. But recently I've been doing the online hunt and I've always been curious about what really goes on on the other side. Thanks for your behind-the-scenes info!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Raymond - For now, the employers have the upper hand, but it may be swinging in the other direction soon. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on February 28, 2014:

It really is becoming a jungle out there on the job market. Unfortunately the power has slided to the side of employers so imo it will remain hard for many to find a fulfilling job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Jackie - Thanks for reading. The IAT may reveal information that some of us don't want to know or won't accept. It is based on the science of reaction times and automatic processing. It's interesting that even if you are, for example, an old person, you may actually have an automatic attitude preference for the young. Controversial and fascinating stuff.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 28, 2014:

Sure glad I am not in the job market. wow. Very interesting and your tests probably would be a good idea to check our ownselves out!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Devika - Thanks for stopping by. These questions should be the exception rather than the rule. Good luck in your job search.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 28, 2014:

An interesting insight here I have been for a few job interviews and have not been asked such strange questions.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

CrisSp - One lucky bum indeed! It is all about relationships. I've seen jaw-dropping referrals -- people doing all kinds of stuff to place their kids especially. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Bill - It's a weird, competitive job market out there and the numbers say it all. Thanks for your support.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Dora - Regardless of regulations, hiring managers are probably going to ask what they want to. Some believe the unusual question reflects their creativity and others are simply a bit odd themselves.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Faith Reaper - I'm glad you and your daddy got the job! You wonder what the reasoning was that went into a question like that. Suppose you didn't know who your daddy was? Or he really was in prison? Gosh. Have a great weekend!

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on February 28, 2014:

Very interesting! Thank heavens, I don't have to undergo this application and screening process (knock-on-wood). I find them very stressful and at times none-sense.

I agree with you particularly in the "referral matter". In Canada it works best considering the in-flock of immigrants from all around the world. So, the sayings: "It's not what you know, it's who you know" mostly applies and indeed, useful. If you get hired without a referral or not knowing anyone from the inside, then you are one lucky bum! :) Guess, I was one!

Great, useful and very informative hub. Thanks for sharing. Will share as well.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 28, 2014:

Such valuable information and such strange questions....well, in today's economy hubs like this are worth their weight in gold. Well done...and I am so grateful I don't have to interview any longer.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 28, 2014:

So revealing! Thank you for sharing these valuable pieces of information concerning the application and hiring process. This would be good to teach to those trying to get employed

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 28, 2014:

Wow, Flourish, these are certainly sobering statistics as to getting one's resume even read by a real person!!! You have provided great insight as to the behind-the-scenes aspect of applying for a job and what is the real deal. Your tips as to how to make sure your resume is top notch are great and I am sure very valuable to those needing a job, especially right now where competition is so fierce!

Those questions asked are unbelievable! My goodness, it would make one not really care if they actually got the job at those places if those are the issues with which that company is truly concerned! LOL

One time, a long time ago, I was applying for a job at an insurance company. I was 25 then. I got the job. I was so surprised that the man interviewing me asked me what my dad did for a living! I thought to myself, now is my dad applying for this job? LOL I cannot remember my answer, but I guess I passed as I did get the job, or either my daddy passed LOL. That was a bit insulting to me. I guess I just told him, and it was very hard to not ask why he would ask such a question, but I refrained. Maybe it was a trick question to see if one asks why do you care what my dad does or did for a living? I can just see if I just added to mess with him ... "Oh, after leaving prison, he worked as a ..." Kidding.

Up and more and sharing.

Have a great weekend ahead,

Faith Reaper

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Nadine - That is sad but I am glad they made something of their time. I sure hope it did not brak their spirit.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Frank - Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 28, 2014:

Kerlund74 - Such very strange questions can be asked when renegade hiring managers go off script. While some of the questions may have been assessing job related criteria or organizational fit, others were so clearly not that the hiring manager needed a talking to. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 28, 2014:

I can almost feel the hopelessness that many must feel when they so desperately want to work to earn a living in order to take care of their families, or themselves. In Spain youngsters with good qualifications ended up helping farmers out for food, which is better than nothing and at the same time they learned a practical skill. That is for now in these difficult times the most important. Learning a practical skill . Well done.Very informative.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 28, 2014:

wow, what a hub.. you covered so much here for anyone interested in job dissecting. This is a quick study and can be useful for college grads or high school grads readying for the real world yeah a very good hub.. anyway, thank you for posting Flourish

kerlund74 from Sweden on February 27, 2014:

Oh my god, there are some really strange questions... Must say this was interesting to read, thought I live in Sweden I think a lot of things are similair here. Great hub.

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