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In an interview session, they split all the candidates into 5 groups. Then they assigned a specific task to each group. After that they interviewed each candidate in private. One confusing question that was asked:

We want to fail 2 candidates among all the others. Which one would you choose?

What was the best answer to this question?

Update 1: My wife is a flight attendant. This question was asked in her interview. The job is bonded to making decisions in emergency situations. For example, in a ditching situation, the boat may be overloaded and they need to choose some passengers to remove from the boat (ask them to go or throw them in water to save all the others).

She really tried to not to answer this question and also chose herself to be removed, but was told to make her choice anyway. Now she needs to know what was the best behavior for further interviews.

Please consider that the airliner will employ 13 of 15 candidates and the candidates may be in same flight crew in the future!

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    It's a tactic, people will nominate the one they are most worried/threatened by. If they all nominate the same one, that's the prime candidate. – The Wandering Dev Manager Sep 20 '16 at 1:19
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    What an awful thing to do. That would be a big red flag to me. – HorusKol Sep 20 '16 at 4:04
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    The best answer is the answer the interviewer wants to hear. Unfortunately we don't know them and we can not read their mind, so this question is impossible to answer. We could say what we would have answered, but that is not helpful for anyone because we can't know if that's what they want to hear. I voted to close as primarily opinion-based. – Philipp Sep 20 '16 at 11:07
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    "Myself, because I object to mind games more than the rest" ? – Julia Hayward Sep 20 '16 at 11:40
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in general the key to answering this well is the "why" part. If you just say "Candidate A" and then sit silent you have blown the question. (As an aside, I think it's a terrible question, but generally you can't share that opinion.) So if you say "Candidate A was clearly much slower than the others in my group, so I think that's my choice" or "Candidate A declared not knowing the tool we were using at all, so I think I would choose Candidate A" then you are showing your grasp of what is important for the job and your ability to judge the other candidates.

It's possible some people will think "Candidate A is clearly strongest, I am going to choose Candidate A" -- I recommend strongly against that plan. Without good reasons for excluding Candidate A, you will not be revealing any of your strengths with such an answer.

Another possible answer is "During the task I focused on getting it completed, not evaluating my team mates. My apologies, but I don't know any of them well enough to recommend elimination." This may count against you, but not as badly as being wildly wrong, such as suggesting the elimination of the strongest team member.

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    +1 for the last paragraph. What a horrible question to ask candidates! I guess my answer to "Why would they do this?" is: To show you first-hand what a horrible culture they have so that you can quickly and quietly remove yourself from the candiate pool and dodge a bullet. – AllTheKingsHorses Sep 20 '16 at 8:00
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    I would agree with the last paragraph except in the case where you are applying for a leadership position. If your interviewers are looking for a strong leader capable of quick choices, that answer might make you seem indecisive. – Kys Sep 20 '16 at 19:34
  • @KateGregory would you please update your answer according to my new edit? – desmati Sep 20 '16 at 22:01
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    It really changes nothing, @desmati. If you're going to answer, answer with a reason because the reason is what matters more than the person you choose. And if you're not going to answer, don't answer but phrase it positively. – Kate Gregory Sep 20 '16 at 22:41
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I generally agree with Kates answer, but I'd like to add a twist:

You will read everywhere that you should not talk negatively about people. So don't. If you need to pick one, think about why you had liked the other 4 better. Talk about your great teamwork with the other four and conclude that as you would really like to work with those four, you would have to pick the remaining one, even though you cannot say anything negative about him.

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I would think it's a stupid question probably designed to see if you will pick someone based on ethnicity or 'looks' and gauge your prejudices if any.

My reply would be 'Any or all of them, I'm the best person for the job.' And move forwards from their reaction to that.

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Remember that a job interview goes two ways: It helps the company finding a suitable employee, and helps the prospective employee to evaluate the company and find out if they want a job there or not.

So you don't give the answer that you think will get you the job - you give the answer that will get you the job if it is a company that you want to work for.

So personally, my answer would be: "I'm very good at what you are trying to hire someone for. But I don't like backstabbing, and I'm not good at it at all. I'm confident that I can do my job as good or better as anyone else here, but I won't beat any of the other candidates this way".

That's either what they want to hear, or the exact opposite. Either way is fine with me.

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