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Our Daily Bleg: How to Weed Out "Weirdos" in Interviews?

How to learn the most about the other side? (Photo: Hemera)

We put out a call for blegs yesterday — questions or quandaries that you want to put in front of Freakonomics readers — and received a lot of good ones. Let’s start it off with the following request from a reader named tish.

What interview questions can I ask to help weed out weird people? “Weird” meaning antisocial, incompetent, lazy, disinterested, dishonest, unprofessional, combative and disruptive. I just got out of a work situation where one superior was all of these things, and I’d love to avoid people like this in the future. She seemed normal enough when I interviewed with her. Oh also, the person is in total denial that they are like this, by the way, so outright asking them probably won’t work. These would be questions to ask in both “interviewer” and “interviewee” roles.

I happen to love this question. I find interviews, and first meetings in general, to be very similar to a first date — people try hard to impress, and you don’t often learn anywhere near as much about their true character/abilities/mindset as you might like. I don’t interview that many people for jobs (we’re a small operation here), but when I do, I find myself working hard to come up with non-traditional lines of questioning to try to get beneath the surface — not necessarily, as tish says, to weed out the weirdos, but to glean as much value as possible in a short and admittedly artificial setting.
So let’s broaden this question a bit, not just asking for your advice as to “weeding out weirdos,” but for interviewing in general. Also, note that tish’s complaint was about a superior, not an employee, so please think in both directions. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And send your own blegs to bleg [at] freakonomics [dot] com.