Impossible job interview questions

Photo from ABC News

The following is not word for word, it’s just how I remember a piece of my interview happening this morning. I don’t think that I have, ever in my life, experienced job interview questions so difficult as I had this morning.

Interviewer: So Vee (my full name was used), I’m going to give you hypothetical scenario and I want you to tell me what you would do in this scenario.

Me: Sounds great, I am ready.

Interviewer: You’ve been involved in a car accident. While you were extremely lucky and walked away from the crash unscathed, there is both a family member in your vehicle and a young child in the other vehicle that are in desperate need of medical attention, and your immediate help prior to paramedics being able to get there. Who do you help first? Please explain the reasoning for your answer.

Long pause for me to think about it.

Me: Is there an adult in the other vehicle to help the young child?

Interviewer: The adult in the other vehicle is safe, stable, but pinned in the drivers seat and will need help from firefighters to be removed from the car.

Me: How severe are each of their injuries?

Interviewer: You don’t know. All you know is that they both need help and there’s two of them and one of you.

Me: I’d help the child. I’d run to the child. As much as I love my family, I’d help the child until the paramedics arrive. If I don’t know how injured either of them are, and just know that they need help, I’d operate under the thought that my family member, being a grown adult, can hold on longer and deal with the pain and stress longer than that of a small child. Id think that a grown adult has a stronger heart and organs that can handle more stress and that if they’re conscious or not, they can deal with it better than that of a small child.

Interviewer: That’s a great answer. Thank you for providing your reasoning. Now tell me, would that answer change if your family member was also a young child?

Me: Wow, you’re hitting me with the hard questions today.

Interviewer laughs.

Interviewer: I get that a lot. I find that, even under a hypothetical scenario, people can still feel somewhat stressed about the answer to questions like these, so I get to test a candidate’s critical thinking ability, understand the the train of thought based on their reasoning and test how they handle stress.

Me: If my family member was also a small child and I was unable to tell which child’s injuries were worse, I’d help him/her first.

I was not interviewing to be a paramedic, a first responder, or anything related to the medical industry whatsoever. Actually, I was interviewing for a Marketing position. A position that would have me sitting in a desk, in an office, in a sky-rise in the middle of the city.

I was shocked at the extent of the questions that I was asked. It was both refreshing and scary to be asked questions so far out of the norm. Throughout this year I’ve done interview after interview in which they all ask the same questions again… almost as if they’ve googled job interview questions and they’re all reading from the first page that popped up on google. I liked the fact that she was asking different questions, but I was also worrisome that I was answering incorrectly.

I hope that she liked my answers. I hope that she understood them. As I’m not a paramedic, I’m really not sure how you’re supposed to answer questions like these. Is there a right answer? Because to me, it doesn’t seem like any answer is the right answer. If you’re not qualified to know who’s injuries are worse and who’s injuries need attention first, you just do what you do and you do all that you can do.

I think the interview this morning went really well. I’m hopeful. I don’t like talking about when I get my hopes up because, if 2019 has proven anything, it’s that when I get my hopes up, they get knocked down twice as hard. That being said, I’ll say it anyway. I’m hopeful.

57 thoughts on “Impossible job interview questions

      1. I have not heard back from them yet. They said they had interviews the rest of this week (I was their first interview this week) so they’d get back to me next week.


      1. When I used to own a publishing company and would interview people for jobs, I’d ask questions like that. It was mostly to see how quick you think on your feet and whether you give an objective or emotional answer. It sounds like you were fast and objective…which is the correct combination you want in a new hire. It shows that you don’t need to have your hand held and will make the best possible decision using a set of facts.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I just love the way you share stuff. I think your abilities are priceless. There’s someone out there who needs to get you on board. To add enormous value to their business. Good luck in your quest 😎 you’ll do it ….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well thank you! While it was happening I was more inclined to say “In a real situation of this matter, I’d probably be standing between the two cars crying because I was freaking out and I didn’t know how to help! But, I guess you never really know until you’re in a situation like that. Goodness, I really hope that never ever happens.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, I thought you were being interviewed for a health care position. These sounds like questions they ask us in class. My go to answer is always ABC: airway, breathing, and circulation.

    I hope you get this job, and I agree that these questions were kinda random and out there. Once, the lady interviewing me at Tim Hortons asked me what piece of furnature I would be. I said table becuase it’s sturdy and reliable. She liked that answer. Apparently, someone else said hammock and she did not like that answer.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ohhhhhhhh – now that you say that, I remember being taught ABC in first aid. Dang, I should’ve remembered that this morning.

      That’s a good answer to a really bizarre question. I’m glad they never asked me about anything like that when I applied at Tim Horton’s. I don’t know what I would have said.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think many people know about ABCs so don’t feel bad for not remembering it. Only reason it’s drilled into my brain is because that is typically the type of thing they ask on exams, if it’s an ER related question. I cannot do ER sim at all, and would fail miserably in a setting like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it is to examine how well you perform under stress, if you are able to keep a reasonable train of thought. I don’t believe morals and ethics are the part they are looking for. For me it qualifies as a rather ‘extreme’ interview tactic. I would get myself in safety, call for help, explain the situation and follow the instructions from the dispatcher. I guess that is not the answer they are looking for …. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When it was happening I was assuming that the Paramedics had already been called since she said I needed to give them attention before the Paramedics got there. That being said, now that I’m reading your comment I’m thinking that, had I called for help, 911 would likely be on the phone with me telling me what to do.

      Thanks for stating the obvious that I was too stressed to remember this morning. lol! It makes a lot of sense. I should have taken you with me to the interview.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And if the other person, who called 911 was there, then there would be two of you. But that is not what they wanted to know, so no worries, you did great! I will come with you next time, if there is a next time. Maybe this job is yours. We’ll see and fingers crossed!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think in the first scenario maybe yes the child, but the second emotions are different because if it’s a family member you tend to panic more. I was a nurse so obviously my answers may have been slightly different as in check whether both were able to breath then go work or sit by the child, second scenario a toughie. My youngest son fell out of his high chair when he was around 2 we had just got back from holiday he was hungry, I put his dinner in the microwave to warm it up, his dad put him in the high chair but didn’t strap him in. Next thing he fell backwards out of the high chair, bumped his head floor was concrete but there was a thin carpet on it, once he was calm he seemed ok, ate his dinner, I put him to bed for his nap not thinking anything of it as he was fine, had to go in the bedroom to get something literally just by chance normally wouldn’t have gone in there, looked in the cot his eyes were open and fixed and he had been sick, I literally froze, as far as I was concerned he was dead, I shouted my husband and his mum was there as well saying he was dead, I picked up the phone and called an ambulance, my husband and his mum picked him up and tipped him upside down, I don’t know if that did anything or not. He was in a coma for two days. I should have been able to react but I couldn’t because he was my son. Give me anyone else’s and I would have sprung into action. I don’t know why they were asking you those sort of questions seems a little odd. But fingers crossed you get the job. Sounds like you thought it through and asked questions logically. Maybe that’s what they wanted. Anyway good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. That’s a truly incredible, truly horrible story. That’s insane that he fell right out of his chair like that. But also, an important story to showcase why those chairs have straps!

      Is your son okay these days? Does he have any left-over brain injuries from that? I cannot even imagine what I’d do in that situation.


      1. He is fine ironically he received a second fractured skull as that’s what they found he had that day. The next one we had just arrived on holiday and two of my boys were born exactly a year apart both due on the 4th July, at the time double buggies were very wide. So we decided to carry them to the restaurant, I had my youngest and my husband had the second son, as we were walking along I hadn’t seen a crack in the pavement but I found it and went flying forwards trying desperately to save my son but his head hit the floor on one side and because of the last incident, I wasn’t going to take any chances and we went straight to A&E they did xrays and yes he had another fractured skull so we spent the weekend at the hospital rather than a relaxing holiday. Although he wasn’t sick this time, had no going into a coma, which was obviously a huge relief he is now 30 years old and doing well. Ironically he has always been accident prone. I think he has more lives than a cat. But yes all high chairs should have straps and they are there for a reason. I never forget at the hospital though they said apparently he fell out of his high chair which made me feel that they were wondering if we had done something. But I guess they do see children come in with some awful injuries. I had actually worked in that A&E so knew the procedures. I think we were just very lucky as he did have some fluid coming out of his ear which is not normally a good sign.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I wonder if that kind of question is just to see how the person they’re interviewing responds to a situation where there might not be an ideal answer or response?

    Personally, my response would be “I’d help them both, at the same time. Nothing the situation presented would stop me. Somehow, despite have no medical or first aid training I’d manage to heal both of their injuries too… Possibly some latent mutant power? My stunning heroism that day would make national news. The mayor would give me the key to the city and have an annual parade in my honour… Hypothetically of course”.

    … I probably wouldn’t get the job, but I bet I’d make the interviewer laugh 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a good answer, too. I think in a situation like these types of questions there really can’t be a right or wrong answer. Unless you’re specifically asking a paramedic or a doctor. If you’re asking a random person with no medical background, then your having a mutant power is totally plausible.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I was thinking – or at least hoping — that there’s no right answer and that any answer would be okay so long as I am critically thinking and answering without freaking out.

      Thank you for reading and for the luck

      Liked by 1 person

  6. V, did those questions apply to the position you were interviewd for.
    Also V, just recently on our local news that there are five thousand jobs in Saskatchewan that need to be filled. Maybe you might want to broaden your job search perimeter. Just something to consider.


    1. Nahhhhh. The job interview was for a Marketing Coordinator.

      As for Saskatchewan – thank you for the tip. I have been applying for jobs all over, that being said, Sask has never really crossed my mind. When I say all over, I just mean BC, Alberta, Ontario and abroad (teaching English and stuff like that).


      1. If I’m being totally honest, there’s a boy waiting for me in Calgary and if I had my way, I’d be back there rather than landing a job aynwhere else.

        That being said, he knows my career is important to me and if I do land a job somewhere else, we’d figure it out. So I really shouldn’t be closing any doors.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. That’s a hard question to answer hypothetically because in truth, in an actual situation you go with your gut feeling. I’d personally wouldn’t choose. Both lives are valuable to me. I’d save my family member first than make an attempt to the child, but suppose I saw imminent danger (like a gas leak/exploison) towards the other car, my gut instinct would be to save that person first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I really don’t think there can be a right answer for someone who’s not a Paramedic or first responder. I mean, if your training is 100% how to deal with situations like these, then you know. But for us regular folk, I don’t think we’d ever know until it happened to us. Which, god forbid… I hope that never happens to you, or I, or anyone…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I dont know V, Ive been involved in interviews many times on both sides, hypothetical ethics questions was somewhere I never went. If its within the context of the role you are applying for fine but i never supposed to think I would be able to get the measure of someones character in one interview. Im glad things are looking up for you, you have good fortune coming your way, I sense it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, yes, I agree. I think it’s hard to measure someone’s character based off one interview. But, some of those questions can probably lead you to believe what type of a person they might be? I don’t know. I’m just the interviewee, never the interviewer…


  9. I’d probably say to the interviewer that they have asked ridiculous questions that have nothing at all to do with job and if they insist on playing mind games they can play them on someone else. I’d then walk out. But hey that’s just me and i don’t want to work in marketing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong answer in that scenario. At least I hope not, knowing they weren’t asking a paramedic or first responder the question – I think it was just a measure of how you can think on your feet and convince someone you’re choosing the right answer, even if it’s only your opinion.

      At least that’s what I’ve come to think of it over the day since I’ve been thinking about it.


  10. It was good to see how fast you questioned the information being given to you although you didn’t see the obvious trap of the question which would be to ask if the family member was a child too rather than if an adult was with the other child. It shows your dilemma between doing what’s right and wrong – it’s interesting as it’s marketing. Makes me wonder what they would need you to believe so badly if they took you on. funny not funny lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I wanted to say that I’d stand between the two cars and cry because I couldn’t decide who to help. But, I don’t think that answer wold have gone over well.

      I hope there aren’t life or death situations to deal with in a marketing role. I guess we’ll find out!

      Liked by 1 person

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