This job interview question is dividing the internet. How do you know when personal matters cross the line?
There are a number of common questions that job seekers know to expect during a job interview.
Most people can perfectly recite a time when they had to deal with stress at work, or blame their greatest strengths without being too cocky.
But one interview question shocked the candidate so much that he shared it on social media, and the internet is just as surprised (and often outraged) by it.
“How do you think life has worked out for you so far?” Salem Pierce was asked as part of her application for a lead visual design position at an unnamed online company.
The app also asked him to “record a short video response of approximately 2-5 minutes and post the link here,” the 30-year-old graphic designer said on Twitter.
Pearce described the demand as “a new level of job application hell,” and many others online agreed.
The tweet went viral. Here’s what users had to say
The idea that hiring managers would ask job candidates to go through the trouble of making, shooting, and uploading a video and asking such a personal question didn’t sit well with most people.
One user simply concluded. “Omg definitely not worth it!”
“Both the question and the request for a video response cause internal screams,” he wrote another user. “If I tried to do that, it would probably be 2-5 minutes of external yelling.”
A number of Twitter users were also concerned that the question was intrusive at best and discriminatory at worst.
I don’t know where this came from in the interview process, but I don’t like this. I could see many ways this is a seemingly harmless way to weed out people from the underprivileged in the name of “fitness” or “attitude” or “charisma”.
— Bart (@NotDearAbi) February 9, 2023
One user commented that the question appeared to be “a sneaky way to identify people who have had trouble”, while adding that “asking to make a video is bad enough, but asking to answer it seems intrusive and suspicious”.
“I can’t think of a way this wouldn’t be used for discrimination,” another agreed.
Another became satirical and commented. “I’ll just leave my therapist an email.
Despite the general consensus that the question was inappropriate, a small number welcomed the opportunity to open up about their lives so far and explain gaps in their CVs.
“This is interesting. Sometimes I wish I had the opportunity to expand on the obstacles in my life versus trying to make sense of everything on a resume. For me, I think I would use this time to explain why my career trajectory is going to look like this. But [I don’t know] what is their ultimate goal here,” one man wrote.
Do such personal matters cross the line?
Job hunters can expect to be asked some personal questions, but timing and wording are key to keeping things professional, recruiters say. Fortune:.
“I understand why the question was asked because I believe that overcoming obstacles really shapes a person and can make you stronger, smarter and really grow,” says Victoria Naughton, senior partner at u&u Recruitment Partners.
But he cautions employers that it’s not appropriate to ask for such information early in an interview, before meeting the candidate in person.
“Job applications should be based on skills. Anything beyond that can leave room for discrimination and bias. This is an example of that,” agrees Zahra Amiri, associate director of talent acquisition at Omnicom Media Group.
Personal questions can indeed be asked later in the interview, but she cautions that they should be “professional and non-invasive” to avoid crossing the line.
Emiri suggests relying on classic questions like, “How would you overcome the challenge?” or “Tell me about something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of.” as they allow candidates to “be honest and draw from personal experience if they wish”.
How job hunters can avoid personal issues and toxic companies
Whether or not the hiring manager intends to be intrusive when asking a personal question, these things can happen. And the line between offensive and acceptable in an interview is completely subjective.
So instead of worrying about the question, breathe first.
“My biggest tip in any interview is always to take a few seconds before any question, take time to formulate your answer,” says Amiri.
That way you can think, if the question makes you uncomfortable, how can you answer it in a way that brings the conversation back to your career?
But if the question is out of anger, then don’t forget that you are not the only one standing in the hot seat. as much as the employer is judging you, you are also wondering if the role and the company are right for you.
“An interview is a window into a company’s culture,” adds Amiri. “So remember, if the interview doesn’t reflect well, there may be another role that would be a better fit for you.”