Category Archives: Trust Your Gut

The Top 5 Most Awkward Job Interview Questions I’ve Ever Been Asked

job interview… and My Equivocally Awkward Replies

In this modern day politically correct society, we can only expect that potential employers will ask us questions in the interview process that will be of utmost professionalism and they will never ask anything that may be in violation of the Human Rights code. Although this practice is expected, it is most certainly, not always practiced.  Throughout my career, I have been asked a variety of wild and awkward questions to which I had no choice but to reply in an equivocally awkward manner.  These are my top instances:

Q1: Are You a Vegetarian?

vegetarian or carnivoreA1: “No, I am a carnivore.  Well, more precisely, an omnivore.” This was in an interview for an animal health company which entailed selling products to veterinarians who catered to all species .  Although I feel that this question wasn’t particularly relevant to the position I was applying for,  it actually can be in some positions.  For example, one sales representative that I knew got a job at a large animal health company that sold vaccines for cattle and he was a vegan.  Needless to say, the company never asked him about his dietary preferences and the situation arose where his clients (cattle veterinarians) invited him to their dinner table and let’s just say that didn’t go over so well.  So that being said, In spite of this awkward question, one’s dietary habits may actually be quite relevant to the position.

Q2: “Are You Jewish?”

Star_of_David.svgA2: “Just because my last name is Goldman, it doesn’t mean that I am Jewish.  Why do you ask?”.  Apparently they asked because my interview was scheduled just before sunset on a Jewish holiday (Shabbat). When they told me that, I replied, “If I was Jewish, why would I schedule an interview minutes before I had to leave and be home before sundown? That isn’t professional is it?” They explained to me that they were asking me out of politeness because they knew a lot of Jewish people. Uhhh..ok??

Q3: “Is family important to you?”

womanhatekidsA3: “Yes, absolutely, but if you mean to ask if I want to have children, I do not.”  When they asked me that question, I knew precisely what they were REALLY asking and I knew if they asked me that question outright it would be illegal.  Regardless, I answered honestly and perhaps if I didn’t get the job, it may have been an issue. The primary reason I decided to answer this question is because I am of the belief that women often don’t make the same pay as their male counterparts and it is simply because they take years off at a time to raise children and I wanted to make it clear that I do not fall into that category and should be considered in the same light as a man for the position.

Q4: “Wow! You were responsible for so many roles in your past job. Why don’t you go into business for yourself?”

wtfA4: “I have considered it but for various reasons, it is simply is not an option at this time.”  This interview got awkward very fast.  They knew I was a highly skilled individual who was accustomed to regularly undertaking multiple tasks within a small company vs. a very specific sales role within an massive corporation.  I ultimately left the interview prematurely upon realizing that this company did not want someone of my skill set but rather a cookie cutter sales person.

Q5: “We require 5 employer references at a minimum, but in your 10-year career you have only worked for two companies.  Are you able to provide this?”

divorcemiddlefingerA5:Since I am currently employed for one of the only two employers in my 10 year sales career, no, I cannot provide a reference from my current employer who is my only supervisor.” I couldn’t help but laugh inside thinking that it is a good thing that I have only worked for two companies in 10 years given that the average sales person changes jobs on average every two years but I suppose because of that precise statistic, the HR person specifically asked for one employer reference per two year period.  Can you say closed minded? Being on the receiving end of this question can be a potential death sentence especially if you are currently employed and your employer does not know you are looking and in my case, I worked for the same company for almost 9 years.  So I said, “If you ask any of your sales representatives across the country to ask any of their clients if they are using my products (since I was the only national sales representative), I am 99.9% certain they will inform your representatives that they are using my product. There is no better reference than that.”.  Unfortunately, my response rubbed these folks the wrong way and they told me that was in no way sufficient. As a result, I had zero interest in working for such a company.  As far as I am concerned, if you can’t judge a sales person on their results, but only on references because your company has such a rigorous “process”, then good luck finding a stellar sales representative and running a successful business.  Needless to say, I rescinded my application for this particular job.

All and all, in spite of how politically correct our society is supposed to be, when we are conducting business or involved in the interview process, sometimes things simply just slip.  As an interviewee, although it is great to be aware of what a potential employer legally can or cannot ask you,  if you are interviewing for a job you are at a disadvantage.  You are at the mercy of a potential employer and you want a job or perhaps a career.  All I can say is, keep in mind that you don’t have to take just ANY job.  Just like you don’t have to settle for an inferior romantic partner.  If you ever feel uncomfortable in an interview, stand up for yourself and say so, regardless of how awkward it may be.  Heck, even walk out of that interview if you feel that it is a waste of your time! I have done that many times.

Remember, you are looking for a job that suits your needs too, not just your potential employers.

Good luck out there my friends.

Cheers,

TSW

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Is a Bad Premonition Just Cause for Cancelling a Trip?

womanlookingtofuture

Spooky? Or a case of being spooked?

Hallowe’en has always been my favorite holiday and it is just around the corner! What isn’t there to enjoy about the fall colours, visits to the orchard, haunted houses and scary movies on every channel?

This week I was originally planning on writing about some scary experiences that I have had while on the road however, something very unusual happened to me a few days ago which I feel is a much more suitable topic for the week of Halloween.

I had a premonition: A bad premonition and 3 warnings, so I decided to cancel my trip.

Before you think I’ve totally fallen off my rocker, let me tell you that I am a scientist by nature so I am naturally skeptical of such things but this has only ever happened to me twice before in my life.  The first time I was not able to avoid the situation and the second time I was able to avoid it.  These are my stories:

Premonition #1: Saved My Little Brother’s Life

My brother 8 and me 11.

My brother 8 and me 11.

When I was 11 years old, I had a premonition that the next day my mother, brother and I were going to be in a serious car accident and that my brother who was seated in the front seat of the vehicle was going to die.  When the next day came around, the entire morning felt like Deja-vu and the dreadful feeling intensified.  It was my brother’s turn to sit in the front seat that day so I begged him to sit in the back seat with me, in the middle which is the safest seat in the car.  As my premonition had it, we did get into a terrible car accident. My mother who was driving was not wearing a seat-belt ended up on the passenger side of the car with her head smashed through passenger side windshield.  If my little brother who was just 8 years old was seated in that seat, I am certain that he would have died that day.  Fortunately, we were all okay.

Premonition #2: “Don’t take the rock!”

ElvesAfter hiking my very first volcano in Iceland, I decided that I wanted to take home a souvenir. In spite of being warned by the locals (who believe in folklore-in particular about the “Hidden People”) to NEVER move or remove any rocks, I decided that I wanted to take one from the volcano.  As soon as I picked it up, this daunting, dreadful, feeling of impending doom came over me and it was as though I heard a voice in my head saying, “Don’t take the rock!”.  So I decided to listen and immediately put the rock back where I found it.  Nothing happened after but who knows what could have happened if I would have taken it?

So even if my premonition was only correct the first time, in my mind it means that when I have one there is at least a 50% chance that my premonition will turn out to be true.  Statistically speaking, that is quite significant.

So what happened this time?

Originally I was elated to go on this trip to Las Vegas but as I went to actually book it, I became completely overwhelmed with a terrible, daunting feeling as though something awful will happen to me there if go.

Am I afraid of travel?

Hell no! I’m the Travelling Saleswoman!  For the past 10 years I have travelled for up to 100 days a year in hotels and most of the time done so alone.

Am I afraid of travelling alone?

Hell no! I travel solo for both business and leisure over 90% of the time. Frankly, I prefer it!

What were these “warning” signs?

1. Failed Booking Attempt #1: On Sunday afternoon, as I submitted the payment details for my trip as I have always done using the Air Canada vacations booking site, this dreadful feeling took a hold of me and urged me not to press submit. I got a sudden rush of these very dark images in my mind-nothing specific but very dark. In spite of this, I pressed submit but received an error message saying that it was unable to book. I tried another 3 times and received the same message so I decided to call the Air Canada Call Center and they informed me that their system was down until further notice and that they were unable to book my trip, so I gave up for the time being.

2. My TV Froze on the film “Hostel III” which happens to take place in Vegas. After I got off the phone with Air Canada and made some lunch, I sat down and turn on the TV and Hostel III was on HBO.  I thought great! I hadn’t seen this one before (believe it or not!). For those of you who are unfamiliar with these films, the story goes something along the lines of rich psychopaths who are part of an elite killing club which kidnaps tourists and tortures them. Coincidentally, this film took place in Vegas, where I was planning on going and had the bad premonition about! After I realized that I had in fact seen this movie before (I forget movies all the time!), I tried to check the other channels to see what other movies were on but, I couldn’t change the channel because my PVR froze. Was this telling me something? Or am I just crazy?

3. Failed Booking Attempt #2 and 3: Ignoring the previous bad gut feeling, failed booking attempt and timely exposure to Hostel III, the following day I decided to try and book my trip once again. This time I simultaneously tried booking on Air Canada’s site AND Expedia BUT BOTH SITES FAILED! Even with different airlines. For some unknown reason, both sites kept timing out and wouldn’t let me book. It wasn’t an issue with my internet connection since I have the fastest connection available and was able to operate all other websites without issue.  I took this as a final warning sign and decided not to go on this trip.

As I mentioned previously, I rarely get any sort of premonition but based on my personal experience, I do not take these lightly. Call it what you may, “woman’s instinct”, “gut feeling” or whatever but the bottom line is, when my gut or whatever it may be gives me such a powerful feeling, I won’t ignore it.

Is it a coincidence that over 350 passengers originally scheduled on the hijacked 9/11 flights either cancelled or didn’t board last minute? Maybe or maybe not.

The truth of the matter is that in spite of how much science can explain, there is much more to life out there that we cannot yet explain and perhaps never will.

In reading this, do you think that having a bad premonition is just cause for cancelling a trip?

Have you ever had a similar experience? Or known someone who has?

I would love to hear your stories.

In the meantime, travel safe my friends and listen to your gut.

Cheers,

TSW

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