I had a job interview for an IT developer position. It is not a manager role and probably a one man band position. I was graduated from a not very high ranking univerisity with 6 years working experience on IT field.

When I sit down, the first question the lady asked is "It is known that your university graduates are rubbish. Do you agree?" I was shocked but I am not angry. When I was thinking how to respond she start on next topic and end up we have chatted for 30 minutes.

She is well-aware of my education background before arrange an interview. The position is not going to handle any customer complaints so she don't need to challenge me for self-control.

I would like to understand what she is trying to get out from the question. So that I can act better next time. Could you share your view as interviewer or interviewee?

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    While an unprofessional thing to say, I don't see a question here. This seems to be a rant about a rude question from an interview. Perhaps you could edit the question to make the intent clearer. – user9158 Mar 25 '14 at 5:03
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    It is still a very open ended question. – user9158 Mar 25 '14 at 6:06
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    If I were you, I'd simply consider it as a meaningless rude question. Get over it and move on. Why would you want to work for a company that asks this kind of question in an interview anyway? – Allen Zhang Mar 25 '14 at 6:14
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    It may have been a Joke, but depends how serious the person said that. I had an interview were i was told "Your'e not a manager are You? We don't like them for this position and we fired a lot of them" I just laughed and said, "No i'm not". Personalty if i was asked the same question like you had i laugh and say "Absolutely they are" just to diffuse the moment. – Tasos Mar 25 '14 at 10:36
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    I guess we'd have to see her face when she asked the question - i expect she had a smirk/grin. She was probably just trying to unsettle you to see how you'd respond. Funny question though.. if i was asked that I'd probably laugh too. – Andrew Corkery Mar 25 '14 at 11:15

If the school really does have a bad reputation, my first response would be to say something like, "Well, you get out what you put in. Sure, some people slid through learning nothing, just there to get the diploma. But those who really wanted to learn found which teachers knew their stuff ..." etc. An answer like this indicates that you are someone who makes the best of any situation, who wants to accomplish something useful, etc., while at the same time claiming that you did in fact get a good education.

Another possible response would be to politely disagree with the premise of the question. You could say, "Huh, I don't know where you got that idea. I thought it was a very good school. I learned a lot." Etc. I'd be careful not to imply that the interviewer is an idiot who listens to baseless rumors. But I don't think it's hard to say "I question the source of that information" without being insulting. You could even offer the interviewer an out, like "I suppose there must be some number of students who bluffed or cheated their way through, maybe you met one of them, but I assure you they're not typical ..."

@user3452897 brings up the interesting possibility that the interview is testing your loyalty. If you will bad-mouth your school, maybe you'll bad-mouth your company. That's an interesting thought. I've always been careful about saying extremely negative things about previous employers for exactly that reason -- I don't want a potential future employer to say, Hey, when he leaves here, he's going to be telling everyone how stupid we were. So I try to explain why I left previous jobs in terms of "my personality did not fit the culture of that company" or "there were no opportunities to do X" rather than "management there were all idiots".


She asked you this for three reasons:

First of all, to check your loyalty towards any institution you come from. The institution could be the college from which you graduated or as a matter of fact the firm you're trying to get in. Had you confirmed what she said, it would have showed you won't hesitate to talk trash about firms you were in, including the one she comes from, which is bad for its reputation, or also to belittle the level of their employees and therefore of the company.

Second of all, to check your prudence towards random information. She even said 'it is known' which is a very vague and invalid source of information. Rumours are only confirmed by people who hear them. Had you believed right away what she said without questioning it or its source would depict you as naive and easily fooled, which is a no-no for serious companies when it comes to recruiting employees.

Third of all, and I think it's the most important part of the question. To let yo make yourself stand out of the mass. Most of graduates from your college being rubbish won't affect you if you're confident with your skills and know their value on the market and the benefits they could represent for this firm.

In brief, this question has nothing to do with what 'is known' but rather was asked to know what kind of peer, employee, or person you would be if they give you the opportunity to work for or with them.

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    And yet, an existing employee of the company didn't hesitate to talk trash about the candidate's university, which invalidates the premise of #1. #2 and #3 could be achieved in ways other than inviting a candidate in and insulting them. That's grounds for me to walk out of an interview right there and then. – Blrfl Aug 28 '14 at 16:44

The point is to see what you'd do in terms of a more than a few pitfalls here:

  • Run with the statement. If you say "yes" without thinking about it, this could be seen as someone that won't question what someone else says or ask where the data came. "It is known..." by whom exactly?

  • Shock factor. Some people may take offensive and give rude remarks to hearing the statement. The idea here is to see whether you'd take the bait in barking back with profanity or other strong reactions that may be seen as unprofessional.

  • Get to the next level of the question. Some may give an answer along the lines of "I don't believe that personally" or something similar that may get another round of what you see as, "This doesn't make sense," yet if you think about this from the perspective of the interviewer trying to upset you or see if you'd take the bait then this may make more sense.


I have heard about this happening a lot here in Brazil, mainly in the IT field (lots of small colleges with a policy of "no payment default means no bad grades").

A famous consultant here in Brazil said something to the tune of "If you agree with him, there is one single answer: Yes, but I do not represent them - I have my own devices to acquire knowledge and experience". Then point out this knowledge and experience.

If you don't agree, I like the above answer of "Please, explain how you have come to this conclusion?".

Showing any sign of anger is a no-no.

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