Monday, March 26, 2012

Awkward interview questions & a plea for tweets

Five years ago when I interviewed for a position as a marketing director, the company owner asked me to tell a joke. Eschewing rules that say never to discuss sex or politics in a job interview, I told a dirty joke with a political twist.

They hired me the same day.

That incident stayed at the top of my "weirdest interview question" list until 18 months ago when I applied for my current day job. Things were winding down in my second interview, when the CEO threw me for a loop.

"Are you a competitive person?"

It seemed like a trick question. Did they want me to be competitive because it indicates a certain drive to succeed, or would a lack of competitive nature make for a better fit in a team environment?

I settled for a truthful answer: "I have a natural urge to work hard and be my best, but I don't feel the need to defeat anyone else to achieve that."

Though I ended up getting the job, I'm still perplexed by the question. Honestly, the word "competitive" has a negative connotation in my mind. It conjures images of office-mates elbowing each other in the groin to get to the copy machine.

But I do want to succeed, both in the day job realm and in my writing career.

Which is why I feel a little awkward asking the Twitter users among you to vote for me in a special eBook contest organized by my publisher. The complete contest rules are here, including a breakdown of dates and brackets and who I'll be competing against in this friendly challenge.

If you're lazy like me and don't feel like reading the details, the gist of it is that you need to tweet using the hashtag #ebookbracket and a message that you want to vote for Making Waves. If you throw my Twitter handle into the mix (@tawnafenske) that would be even more awesome.

The author who racks up the most votes will have the eBook version of his/her title priced at 99-cents the first week in April.

On the surface, it seems a little silly. Why would I care if my book goes on sale? Aside from the fact that I love being cheap and easy, it's a great way to gain exposure. Readers are more willing to take a gamble on a sale-priced book from an author they don't know. If they like Making Waves, there's a good chance they'll try my other titles, Believe it or Not and Getting Dumped).

So if you have a Twitter account and a couple minutes to spare, would you mind tweeting your vote for Making Waves using the #ebookbracket hashtag? Thank you!

In the meantime, what's the most awkward interview question you've ever faced? How did you handle it? Please share!

I'll leave you with the best interview exchange I've ever heard about (which may or may not be an urban legend, but I still enjoy repeating it because it always makes me laugh):

Interviewer: How often do you masturbate?

Interviewee: Not as often as I deserve.


Unknown said...

I've never had any real awkward question but I'm always stumped on the "what's your worst trait?" one (or however that should be translated from swe to eng).

Sarah Allen said...

Haha!! Oh, that last one. I love it. I can't think of any weird interview questions off the top of my head, but that "worst characteristic" one gets me all the time too. What's the right way to answer something like that?

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

Kate George/Bodacious Betty said...

I'll vote for you. I loved Making Waves and I bet I like the two new ones too.

As for most awkward interview question? All I can come up with is the same one "What's your worst quality." Then I feel like I have to take a positive quality and give it a negative spin. Very unsettling.

The worst part is that I always find myself doing jobs I don't particularly want to do. I'd much rather be at home writing!

good luck with the votes.

Allie Sanders said...

Question about the bracket? How many times can we use the hashtag because I RT Michelle yesterday voting for you (with a little addition from me) but is this a daily, hourly, minutely thing?

I've only had one interview ever and it wasn't very awkward, except no one told me you shouldn't tell the whole truth in those things and I just let it all spew out. It wasn't pretty. Needless to say I didn't get the job. ;)

Best of luck in the bracket, mah dear!

Jemi Fraser said...

Just finished Making Waves last night - thoroughly enjoyed it! What a fun story :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'd Tweet you if I had a Twitter page!
Awkward interview question? Hmmm...I guess one that's not necessarily awkward but tough to answer is "What are your greatest weaknesses?" I never know how to answer that without sounding like I'm lying; if I were completely honest about what my weaknesses are, the interview might end right then and there.

wendy@chezchloe said...

My memories of interviews are too distant to remember. And I've had to make room for learning new things like twitter... of which I'm still in the process. This includes hastags...which until this moment I thought was hashtags. I will check out the contest. I think it's interesting how sourcebooks has created it. I suppose it's the pyramid effect and a concrete example of the need for building your platform.
Good luck!


Thanks for the comments and questions, guys!

Allie, I believe you can vote as many times as you like, so have at it. Thanks!

Wendy, LOL, it is "hashtags," not "hastags," but thanks for catching my typo. I had it right in one spot, but missed it in the second reference. All fixed now!