How effective are ‘gotcha’ interview questions?

They range from seemingly innocuous queries like What does a good day at work look like? to more standard questions along the lines of tell me about how you handled a recent crisis at work or the more offbeat how many cows are there in Canada?

A recent article in online technology publication Computerworld takes a look at some of the best and worst IT job interview questions. The merits and pitfalls of so-called gotcha questions said to be employed by firms such as Dell Inc. and Google Inc. were discussed by tech talent experts.
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Some candidates find as definite turn offs brain stomping questions that seem to come out of left such as: Why are manhole covers round and not square?

Job applicants might expect similar questions to be asked by companies like Google, according to Mathew Ripaldi, senior vice president at IT staffing firm Modis, in Houston. However, he added, there are many other companies that employ such tactics.


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The results are mixed because it’s not very clear if these companies know what they are supposed to do with the response they get.

Some hiring executives prefer to ask questions that that will reveal if a candidate has the right attitude and social skills that will facilitate smooth integration into the corporate culture, according to Joe Schmitt, network support manager a United States-based bank.

Rather than employ gotcha questions, he has an eight-member network support team conduct the interview process. When the candidate reaches this point, technical accumen has typically been assessed already, so Schmitt goes for questions that are both specific and open ended: Tell me a time when you successfully adapted to change; how to you resolve disagreements or Tell me about something you documented for other.

Response to the last item, he said, provides interviewers with an idea of the candidate’s attitudes towards teamwork.

For more on the best and worst job interview questions, click here


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