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ยป Forums ยป Coffee Break ยป Re: Why do clients ask stupid questions.
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kathy1010
Community Member

Why do clients ask stupid questions.

Hi, Coffeebreakers. I just had another client ask, :"what's your favorite movie?" Why do they ask these questions???? What purpose does it serve. It really drives me crazy. How do you guys answer?

 

 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION


@Petra R wrote:

I agree with Melissa. I much prefer questions such as "What is your favourite film and why?" to "Write 'purple cow' at the top of your application to let me know you read the job posting" or nonsense such as "Which part of the job do you think will take the most time" and so on.

 

I like working with clients who try to see the person behind the profile.


 What she said. ๐Ÿ™‚

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43 REPLIES 43
purplepony
Community Member

Virginia, when anyone asks me any question I prefer to not answer for whatever reason(s) I simply nicely ask "Why do you ask?" and shut up (the next person that talks loses so to speak.)  In doing so most people generally catch that I'm basically politely telling them that it's none of their business... 

I agree, but it seems like a good way not to get a contract.

sivavranagaro
Community Member

Maybe they came here for fun, to play with people who apply for jobs.

Maybe it's difficult to choose among candidates so they add in a filter.

Maybe it's related to job in a bizarre way.

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Don't correct my grammar!
mthornton-cpc
Community Member

Think about all the people who cry on these very boards, "I need more Connects, all mine are gone in 3 days!". Then think about the general quality of the proposals submitted by such people. Then put yourself in the position of the client. If someone doesn't answer that question there's a good chance they didn't read the job posting. They can be immediately dismissed - it cuts down your review pool in a matter of moments. 

 

Also, sometimes clients like to see a bit of the freelancer's personality and asking opinion questions like that is an easy way to do that. Some clients value compatible personalities, so that may help them differentiate between 2 or more candidates who are all equally qualified. 

I agree with Melissa. I much prefer questions such as "What is your favourite film and why?" to "Write 'purple cow' at the top of your application to let me know you read the job posting" or nonsense such as "Which part of the job do you think will take the most time" and so on.

 

I like working with clients who try to see the person behind the profile.


@Petra R wrote:

I agree with Melissa. I much prefer questions such as "What is your favourite film and why?" to "Write 'purple cow' at the top of your application to let me know you read the job posting" or nonsense such as "Which part of the job do you think will take the most time" and so on.

 

I like working with clients who try to see the person behind the profile.


 What she said. ๐Ÿ™‚

You guys win. I'll take a deep breath and give polite answers. Thanks.


@Virginia F wrote:

You guys win. I'll take a deep breath and give polite answers. Thanks.


 Also bear in mind that if you *do* apply to a job with any form of "screening question", your answers to those questions appear first in your proposal to the client. So making at least a small amount of effort is a good idea.

 

@Eve L wrote:

I don't get the thing with Casablanca. If you want to watch a really good old movie you have to watch Gone with the Wind, or Dr. Zhivago. Those movies are great! A bit long, but way better than Casablanca.

 

Also, I never get questions like these. Most of my clients are Scandinavian. We never ask personal questions. Even starting out a message or a conversation with "how are you?" is a bit weird... 

 What annoys me more than that insincere "how are you?" is the people who ask but don't pause for an answer and just continue talking. I always interrupt to say "I'm great, thanks for asking!" to prove a point Cat LOL

 

@Luce N wrote:

How can someone be expected to have ONE favourite movie? That's what makes this question weird, if you ask me.

 The correct answer is always "The Princess Bride". This is an easy question.


Jennifer D wrote: 
@Luce N wrote:

How can someone be expected to have ONE favourite movie? That's what makes this question weird, if you ask me.

 The correct answer is always "The Princess Bride". This is an easy question.


It's inconceivable that any other answer could be acceptable! 

 

But, honestly, my favorite movie of all time is Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. The 1971 classic with Gene Wilder. Hands down, favorite favorite favorite. TPB makes the top 10 for sure, though.   

abbeybrown
Community Member

To be fair, you can actually tell a lot about a person by HOW they answer a question more than what the answer is. "My favorite movie is Casablanca because Humphrey Bogart was really hot" is a very different answer from, "my favorite movie is Casablanca because the dialogue is a great example on how to subtly reveal a character's motives and emotions." But, in some job categories, you'd likely find out more by being direct. 

Q: "What's your favourite movie and why?"

A "A Few Good Men"

............. because it has this scene:

tlsanders
Community Member

I think that's some clients' way of including the stupid "say Brown Mastadons in the first line" test without actually asking you to just write a stupid phrase with no context.

 

In some cases, though, I think maybe the client thinks it tells him something about fit. I had one once that asked what was Joss Whedon's best film. That's a bit specific, and seemed to me like it might actually be some unusual sort of weed-out (I apparently got it wrong).

LOL. I'd have no idea how to answer that one. But Casablanca is a good movie; should have thought of that. Since the client wanted an ebook for women, I gave the girlie "I've Got Mail," which is actually one of my favorite comedies.

I keep promoting LA Confidential, flaws and all. Here's a memorable scene that didn't have Kevin Spacey in it.

 

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce

I don't get the thing with Casablanca. If you want to watch a really good old movie you have to watch Gone with the Wind, or Dr. Zhivago. Those movies are great! A bit long, but way better than Casablanca.

 

Also, I never get questions like these. Most of my clients are Scandinavian. We never ask personal questions. Even starting out a message or a conversation with "how are you?" is a bit weird... 

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@Eve L wrote:

Even starting out a message or a conversation with "how are you?" is a bit weird... 


This is great. I never understood point of such questions.

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Don't correct my grammar!


@Tiffany S wrote:

That's a bit specific, and seemed to me like it might actually be some unusual sort of weed-out (I apparently got it wrong).


 What it was actually?

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Don't correct my grammar!


@Vesna M wrote:

@Tiffany S wrote:

That's a bit specific, and seemed to me like it might actually be some unusual sort of weed-out (I apparently got it wrong).


 What it was actually?


 I don't know. I never heard back from the client. 

 

I said that it was obviously a trick question, as Dollhouse was Joss Whedon's best work, and it wasn't a movie.


Tiffany S wrote: 

I said that it was obviously a trick question, as Dollhouse was Joss Whedon's best work, and it wasn't a movie.


 Tiffany, you misspelled "Firefly."  Man Tongue

renata101
Community Member

In answer to your question: I don't know, Virginia, I just don't know. However, I think there might be an important difference between instances where clients ask  open-ended (pointed) stupid questions  and when they ask random (pointless) stupid questions

In the case of an open-ended question (which I'm going to refer to as a pointed stupid question), it might be a way to see how well you write on spec. So it's kind of like a trick or skill-testing stupid question. Clients might want to see how well you develop and/or structure your answer. This might be the new way people try to skirt the issue of asking for free writing samples. In this instance, the question isn't randomly stupid but rather open ended --and the ToS does not in any way discourage clients from posing stupid questions to freelancers. UW even supplies a slew of prefabricated ones for clients who can't come up with their own. 

However, I do think a lot of people on UW do ask random questions and these can vary widely in their level of perceived stupidity. So the way to determine whether or not the client is asking a random stupid question (a question for which there isn't a reasonably good or guessable answer) may vary from industry to industry.  In addition, sometimes clients who have never hired on the board may be completely lost in terms of what to ask for.  The type of questions they come up with might be more accurately considered nervous stupid questions. These are similar to the  variety people tend to whip out at cocktail parties where they don't know anyone.

If you're considering applying for a posting with a stupid question, you might put your hand over the area of the screen containing the stupid question and ask yourself, all things considered, whether the rest of it looks like something you want to apply for. If yes, just take your best run at answering it. Which sounds pretty much like what you did. 

@Tiffany S wrote:

I said that it was obviously a trick question, as Dollhouse was Joss Whedon's best work, and it wasn't a movie.


I would have said: "The musical he will one day make."

 

(I loved the musical episode of Buffy and Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I can't understand why he hasn't made a full-length musical yet!)

You're right, Renata. There may be a point to those questions. I sometimes can ge a little short with that, but I'll change my 'tude. And thanks all for answering MY stupid questions. Merry Christmas!

How can someone be expected to have ONE favourite movie? That's what makes this question weird, if you ask me.


@Luce N wrote:

How can someone be expected to have ONE favourite movie? That's what makes this question weird, if you ask me.


@Luce


I think that's the main reason I keep flunking this question.  I think of what an imposition it is to be limited to just one favourite and I end up watching one instead of applying as an act of rebellion.

Exactly. It's like a trap.



I think that's the main reason I keep flunking this question.  I think of what an imposition it is to be limited to just one favourite and I end up watching one instead of applying as an act of rebellion.


 Let's give an honest reply: "I don't have one favourite movie, but many..." and continue with a long list, explaining each of our choices.

That might  not get us the job but it might discourage the client from ever asking that question again.

renata101
Community Member

Actually, Virginia, your question has really got me thinking. I deal with people every day who have to respond to things they consider stupid questions. A case in point is a guy I worked with a few months ago. He's kind of an unassuming guy who just wants to continue his education so he can become a researcher. He needed to apply for scholarships and some of the applications involved what he called "annoying college-application-like essays," which most often involve answering annoying college-application-like essay prompts (high-level stupid questions that admissions officers at places like Stanford dream up to filter applicants). My client's goals could pretty much be summed up as follows: "I'm a genius-level mathematical modeling scholar and my dream is to become a researcher. Can you please give me money to continue my education?" So despite doing stuff like taking PhD-level mathematical modeling courses during his undergrad, he still had to respond to a few of the more annoyingly creative application essay questions that admissions officers love to dream up. 

So I'm just going to offer you a link to one of my all-time favourite responses to this type of question.  I think it's a good reminder that you can always opt for a non-standard approach to answering to make things more interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/susan/joke/essay.htm

What we need to do is to club together and vote for a committee to provide stock answers to stock questions, however stupid - a sort of "Stupid question union". So starting with, let's say, "What is your favorite movie - or "favourite film" depending on which side of the Atlantic one is on, we should all cast a vote for the worst film/movie ever made and then universally opt for this answer.

 

Or, the general response when heading our proposals with "Purple cow". would be, "What's wrong with red cows? Your post is discriminatory." 

 

Just a thought . . .

 

 

Those responses are hysterical. Maybe you shouldn't have posted them, because if I'm in the right (or wrong) mood, I just might use one of them! Merry Christmas.


@Virginia F wrote:

Those responses are hysterical. Maybe you shouldn't have posted them, because if I'm in the right (or wrong) mood, I just might use one of them! Merry Christmas.


 Tell you what: next time you're asked about your favourite movie, just send the link to this thread.

Yesterday, I was invited to a job that was closed about 20 minutes after it was posted - so I didn't get a chance to apply or decline.The actual job was for a 1500-word product description and one was required to bid $20 and below. 

 

I would have declined anyway as the client wanted a 500- word product comparison (products specified) in the proposal  to prove that one was a native English speaker. For this $20 job (max) there were other requirements: put 'onomatopoeia' at the top of the proposal and to answer three questions. What is the meaning of:

- beating around the bush

- biting more than you can chew

- jumping the gun

 

Apart from the fact that I do not include writing in my skills - or that I have set myself to "expert", which Upwork's algorithim has consistently refused to acknowledge, the proposal alone, would be worth over four times the offer.

 

I am so relieved my account has been set to private. I will no longer receive inappropriate, badly paid invitations and will no longer feel pressurized into answering them.  

 

imakeinternet
Community Member

Maybe your reluctance to answer a simple question caused you not the get the job.  Who knows?


Edited out - Mike W clearly knows best.


@Nichola L wrote:

Edited out - Mike W clearly knows best.


There are many clients who think like Mike W. While they think they are  are very clever, merely asking the questions they do, prove they are not. Here is an example- 

 

A while ago a potential (offsite) client offered me a job writing some technical astronomy articles, but I had to complete a basic "test" first, the test being to -

 

Calculate the n-body problem (recalculate the orbits) of all of Jupiter's moons if the dwarf planet Pluto suddenly entered the Jovian system. 

 

This had to be done in two hours (which is possible with the use of a supercomputer) so since I did not have access to such a computer, I though I'd ask this fool for more information, such as a full description of the events that had caused Pluto to leave its orbit, the speed at which Pluto entered the Jovian system, and the Pluto-Jupiter distance at closest approach, among other variables, such as Pluto's proposed argument of periapsis (which is an orbital element). 

 

His response?

 

"What is this periapsis stuff? Maybe you can just leave it out". 

 

So, perhaps the client that needed the word "'onomatopoeia'" at the top of an application also does not know what it means, which if true, puts Mike W's comment to Nichola's post in some sort of perspective.   

 

 

As Rene would say, "FRAK!"

 

Upwork just ate my lengthy response to Mike W's comment on Nichola's post. It was a good post too, is there a way to get it back? 

aocumen
Community Manager
Community Manager

Fished it out of spam, as requested, Reinier!


~ Avery
Upwork


@Mike W wrote:

Maybe your reluctance to answer a simple question caused you not the get the job.  Who knows?


 If the time needed to answer the questions and respond to the invite eats up more than 10% of the value of the job I decline. My time is more profitably spent earning money than answering stupid questions. The maximum time I would allocate to a $ 20 job invite would be 3 minutes.

OK - I'm about to half eat my words. A very nice Elance client who has spent some time trying to find me here, has just explained. It is to filter out inappropriate proposals (see earlier posts by others). My client who did not put a stupid question, but a well-thought out way of separating wheat from chaff, said that it really worked as well as  providing him and his team with considerable amusement. So clients (or this one anyway), are entirely human.

 

However, he is an enlightened client (and has used his own method). There are other "clients" who use Upwork's choices, and  who think this is the way to go, without having the faintest idea how the answers to these questions can help them or their businesses.   

Darn right, Petra. I just saw this article job that went on .... and on .... and on. Longer than the required article. Seriously?? I'm not reading 1000 words in order to write 500.

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