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I had an interview today. Everything started off well and was normal: introductions, I shared my background, we bantered a little about sports, we talked about the company... all the usual stuff.

Then out of the blue, the interviewer asked me "Can you lift 20 pounds?" I said yes, and he kind of mumbled a happy "Ah, good", and then marked something down on his paper.

He then kept repeating the same question, with increased weights? "Can you lift 30 pounds?" Same responses by me and same reaction by him. It kept increasing by 10 pounds.

Finally, when we got to 90 pounds, I said "No, probably not." He crinkled his forehead and said "Oh, I see..." and then frowned and wrote something down. He then said "Well, thank you for your time," and abruptly ended the call.

I'm really confused by this whole thing. Was there some way I should have answered this question? Is it inappropriate for me to contact the company and ask about it?

Sorry, one clarification I should have provided. This is for an IT production support job. This is a telecommute position. I don't understand why he was even asking the question.

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    Assuming you were interviewing for a non-physical job... Weren't you at all curious why they asked? Did you assume they meant dead lifting a weight with your bare hands? If someone asked me that question during an interview I would assume it was a test of how well I gathered requirements or to find out how I approached a problem. Most people can lift way more than 90 lbs with a block and tackle for example
    – ColleenV
    Mar 28 at 16:54
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    I wonder if this was an "XY problem" test. In a support role, you'll have to answer questions from people who may not know how to fully formulate their question in the first place. After the third time being asked "can you lift X pounds?", they may have preferred you to infer the underlying question of "how much can you lift?". Instead of answering questions that don't actually solve the problem, you directly get to the heart of what the user wants to accomplish. Mar 28 at 18:44
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    You did not do anything wrong. Sometimes, you may need to lift up to 50 pounds, which is normal for some companies in the IT support group. This company and the interviewer are a little strange. Good luck with finding the next job. Mar 28 at 18:49
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    If you had answered that you could lift 90 pounds, the interviewer would have probably continued to ask and increase the weight up to 500 pounds. Then, he would have ended the interview the same way. Mar 28 at 18:52
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    maybe he wanted to see if you could carry the dead weight of useless coworkers. Mar 29 at 1:20

1 Answer 1

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Was there some way I should have answered this question?

If I were asked this question, my response would have been something like "Is lifting heavy objects part of the job requirements?"

And I probably wouldn't have waited until the 8th weight-lifting-related question to ask.

Sorry, one clarification I should have provided. This is for an IT production support job. This is a telecommute position. I don't understand why he was even asking the question.

To me, it doesn't make much sense to ask, or answer, this sort of off-the-wall question in an interview for this job. All the more reason I would have probed for the "why".

Perhaps they were just trying to see how many answers you would give before cutting off the line of questioning.

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    Re "off-the-wall question": I have never worked in an "IT production support" job, but from the name of it I imagine it could generally involve physically handling IT hardware on a fairly regular basis, such as moving servers in and out of racks, or lifting printers and PC enclosures onto and off transport trolleys. Obviously the best response is to ask for clarification rather than make assumptions what the job entails; +1
    – njuffa
    Mar 29 at 1:00
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    I would ask for details on what you are required to lift. Are they asking about desktop computer, monitors or larger office printers (not the ones with wheels)? Mar 29 at 1:13
  • @JoeStrazzere I read that in the question. (1) Maybe the interviewer forgot and asks out of habit; (2) Maybe the job entails occasional work visits to employer and/or 3rd party facilities; etc. We do not know all the particulars of this situation.
    – njuffa
    Mar 29 at 11:05
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    Could it be a roundabout way of asking if you have back trouble, since such questions are not allowed in some countries? Mar 29 at 11:17

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