HR Strange But True!
April 14, 2011

A new Accountemps survey of 1,000 chief financial officers shows they don’t just rely on resumes to make their hiring decisions. Many (42 percent) say they stick with their “go to,” tried-and-true interview questions. However, some like to ask applicants questions that have nothing to do with finance—like “what’s your favorite baseball team?”

Max Messner, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting for Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), says the survey shows that job applicants need to prepare to answer questions, beyond their educational and occupational qualifications, that help the interviewer know more about their personality and work styles.

The survey says good old questions like these will probably come up in any interview:

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Tell me about your previous experience.
  • Why should we hire you?

But not all CFOs stick to these “standards.” Yes, even number crunchers can come up with some doozies that they shared with the Accountemps survey:

  • What is your favorite animal?
  • If you could interview any three people, living or dead, who would they be?
  • Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
  • Why do you feel you deserve this position more than the next guy? [Definitely not a gender neutral question-HRSBT]
  • Why would you not hire yourself for this job?
  • How long are you going to work here?

Our favorite question is soooo CFO, but many calculator-dependent applicants may not be able to handle this trick question:

  • What is 99.5 divided by 2?

These questions submitted for the survey show that “applicants must be able to think quickly on their feet so they can best answer whatever a hiring manager may ask," Messmer concluded.

Best, Worst Answers? As an HR professional, what do you think would be the best—or worst—applicant answers to these questions? Let us know at Please include "Applicant Answers" in the subject line.



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