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I had a group interview. There were about 10 other candidates and one person running the interview. The format was we sat at the table and took turns answering the questions asked by the interviewer. All of the questions were "getting to know you" type questions. One I found very uncomfortable. We were asked to find a partner, then tell the group a funny story about them.

For example my partner Bob told me a story about himself. Then I told the group this story about Bob to make them laugh. Then Bob would do it for me.

I found it very stressful presenting to a large group on something I'm not experienced in (it's not as if the job was for a comedian). I was unable to think up a good story in the time provided. Worse yet my partner had a story that could be seen as inappropriate. I considered walking out but didn't want to leave my partner stranded. Also since there were so many people I was concerned what they might think. I'm not necessarily saying it this was a bad question, I'm saying I found it unusual and had a lot of stress answering it.

Was there a better way I could have handled this? I tried to get more direction from the interviewer and asked where she got these questions from. She replied "I'm creative" and that they were supposed to be fun.

Another question was "what's your favorite color". I'm a bit annoyed I wasted time going to the interview. I'm not there to listen to 10 strangers talk about their favorite color. I'm considering following up with her manager. In the email they specified the dress code was "business casual" and having them specify this made me expect they would be more professional.

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    What kind of job interviews 10 people at once? – Matthew Gaiser Mar 5 at 1:33
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    @MatthewGaiser Many, including large and reputable companies. Speaking from experience. In my case, the candidates were from various scientific and cultural backgrounds. – Mars Mar 5 at 3:25
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    @MatthewGaiser for a marketing agency – user115298 Mar 5 at 7:26
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    In a test like this you ask about the favourite colour (and ignore the answer) so that candidates don’t know which are the critical questions. Maybe also to check your reaction. “I’m not here to waste my time discussing favourite colours” is not a good reaction. – gnasher729 Mar 5 at 9:54
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    For marketing, I would think that it would be interesting (as the interviewer) to hear how the candidate answers a banal question like what is your favorite color? You like purple? Who cares? You can make me like it to, that's marketing. – Damila Mar 5 at 17:35
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My answer is partly based on your second question which shed some light on what job this interview was for.

I found it very stressful presenting to a large group on something I'm not experienced in

In promotion/marketing we call this ability "Jobbing" (from Steve Job type of presentation) Or "Radio Yerevan" . Seconds before your very well prepared presentation about product with zillions of features you are informed none of them are/will be there. And it will be delayed. Now go and promote it.

I was unable to think up a good story in the time provided. Worse yet my partner had a story that could be seen as inappropriate.

It's not for you to make the story good/funny. It's for the person who will present it. In my previous job we had this game to entertain ourself: pick a horror movie (without telling anyone the title) and present it like it's comedy. If other guessed the title (or they said they would watch it) then you won.
Your partner had, in your opinion, inappropriate story. Let's say it was about defecating in a museum. Your role is to tell the story in a way that is funny (so people focus on how you speak and present rather than story and they find that amusing), you use words that descirbe the story but are not loaded with negative connections (so instead of "taken a shit" you say "He put Manzoni in the art gallery. The only thing missing was Duchamp").

Spin, sell, show in good light. Promote. It's not about what YOU think OTHER MIGHT think. It's about how you want them to think.

Question about color. It wasn't about color. It could be about favourite unicorn or socks.
It's about selling the color to others. What's so special in it? How it make you feel. What you assosiate with it.
This question "measure" also another thing - can you be passionate about talking think that you care about. Can you infect others with it. For example, if others change their mind about THEIR color after your presentation.

Also I will mention here @Mars comment on your other question - It's not about knowledge how those interviews go and WHY they ask those question. It's about how easily you navigate through them, how you "feel" them. It's about reading the book not about knowing how you read.

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  • Thanks this makes a lot of sense! – user115298 Mar 7 at 7:48
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The purpose of such activities is to gauge critical thinking and communication abilities, especially regarding topics with which you are not intimately familiar with.

I would not consider them unprofessional, as I have personally seen and participated in ones for some global industry leaders--ones that I'm assuming have put some thought into their hiring practice. In my experience, I've even had a company fly us 20 candidates halfway across the country to do this exact task (among others). That's not cheap, so they very likely don't consider it a waste of your (or their) time.

You might not appreciate what they were trying to measure, but they do.
In that case, you either jump through the hoops, or leave. It seems like there were at least 9 other potential candidates to replace you, so the company probably wouldn't mind.

Leaving part-way through the interview, however, would probably very negatively affect your reputation and would at least temporarily get you blacklisted from that company/recruiter. As such, I would not advise it.


Re: "it's not as if the job was for a comedian," communication is seen as a core skill for just about any profession. I would suggest you reconsider your rating of this ability's importance!


Lastly, regarding the fact that Bob's story was inappropriate:
The point where Bob was telling the story would have been a good time to interject and request a more appropriate story. If there wasn't enough time for a new, quick story, then I don't seen any options other than to tell the story.

However, remember that this is not your story. You can shift pretty much all of the blame off of yourself by beginning the story with "I'm not really sure this is appropriate for work, but here's Bob's story!"

What they want to see here is if you can communicate the story, not if you have a strong sense of business appropriate conversation.

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    "Re: "it's not as if the job was for a comedian," communication is seen as a core skill " make no mistake, being funny and being good at communicating are two different things – user115298 Mar 5 at 7:29
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    "I would not consider them unprofessional" you mean the questions or the fact there were 10 other people in the interview? – user115298 Mar 5 at 7:30
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    @user115298 Being funny is often considered the apex of communication ability. But ignoring that part, it shows your ability to extract info from your partner's story, your ability to sell something and your ability to stay true to the spirit of the content – Mars Mar 5 at 7:33
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    Where do you get the idea that being funny translates into good communication, or good sales or marketing skills? – user115298 Mar 5 at 7:48
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    Except maybe the applicant who made you tell an inappropriate story You're assuming Bob was an applicant and not a plant (stooge / imposter / existing employee). It's highly unlikely all other applicants were, but maybe one or two. – Justin Mar 5 at 8:11

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