Stupid Interview Question – “Rate Yourself On A Scale Of 1 To 10″

This question is surprisingly common.  The headhunter or HR person asks “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10.”  For example, “How strong are you in C#, on a scale of 1 to 10?”

Whenever someone asks that question, I mentally translate it to the interviewer saying “I’m a clueless twit who knows nothing about hiring programmers.”

What am I supposed to say?  If I say “10″, I sound overconfident.  If I give a number too low, they’ll filter me out for giving a low answer.  I usually say 8 or 9.  The correct answer is “I’m highly skilled.  I’ll be one of the top performers in any language quickly, even if I’ve never used it before.”, but that response is too complex for someone dumb enough to ask that question.

That question is “useful”, because it tells me that the asker is completely clueless.  That’s the most frustrating part of searching for a job.  Most of the middlemen are technically illiterate.  They can’t do any evaluation more complicated than matching keywords on a resume.

That question completely misses the point.  If an interviewer asks you to rate yourself, obviously you’re going to give yourself the best rating possible.  The interviewer has to be technically oriented himself, so he can tell the difference between competent people and fakers.

2 Responses to Stupid Interview Question – “Rate Yourself On A Scale Of 1 To 10″

  1. Anonymous Coward March 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    About ten years ago I applied to a job at Google ClownLand, UK.

    The recruiter they were using at the time sent me a questionnaire with the sort of questions you are complaining about here i.e. rate yourself for buzzword skill X from 1 to 10. It also asked other questions as well and it took me a little while to complete it all.

    I emailed the recruiter my completed questionnaire. I heard nothing for several months and then the same recruiter asked me to complete exactly the same questionnaire again for a second time.

    As several months had passed I had given up on the job and had deleted my original completed copy. So I did it again. I emailed it back and I never heard from the recruiter ever again.

    Roll on a few years and I got contacted by another Google recruiter in another country. That led to face-to-face interviews. At the end of the interviews a woman asked me into an office and told me if I didn’t get the job Google wouldn’t contact me.

    Google were true to their word and they didn’t contact me – well at least for 5 years.

    Five years after my face-to-face interviews, yet another Google recruiter contacted me. He told me I had nearly got the previous job and it was a close decision.

    I was somewhat annoyed Google had point blank been so lazy they couldn’t tell me that by email 5 years ago. I didn’t think he was being entirely straightforward. If it had been such a close decision why didn’t Google contact me in those intervening 5 years?

    I said that I was prepared to interview again. The recruiter then said I would be tested in a certain programming language. As for the past 5 years I have been using Microsoft technology and programming languages, I asked the recruiter whether they would make allowances for the fact I’m programming in a Microsoft language and technology. The recruiter would not contact the hiring manager about this and so I declined the interviews.

    Just a waste of time really. All I wanted to know is that I wouldn’t face an interviewer that wanted to quiz me on precise syntax on a programming language I haven’t used for 5 years.

  2. Anonymous Coward March 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    > and told me if I didn’t get the job Google wouldn’t contact me.

    I feel I didn’t make it properly clear my disappointment with Google’s attitude.

    After several face-to-face interviews I was told that if I didn’t get the job, then I would not be informed about the decision. Effectively I was not be contacted at all.

    I thought at the time this was “off”. It costs nothing to send an email to someone saying they didn’t get the job.

    Then five years later, a Google recruiter contacted me by email and asked to speak to me over the telephone. He then referred back to the interviews I had five years ago. So it took Google five years to tell me I didn’t get the job!

    For some reason this pissed me off. I should have been told at the time.

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