Incredible But True The Dumbest Questions Asked of HR by CEOs

June 1, 1998
Oh, those CEOs—can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. That might be your conclusion, anyway, after reading the dumbest things CEOs have asked of HR. We tried to ignore the popular holdovers from last year: There are still a lot of CEOs wondering how much money they make, and an alarming number who are all too eager to fire the ill, the potentially ill, the unattractive or the legally protected. But that left us with plenty of dumb questions to choose from. Although a diplomatic few protested that there are no dumb questions, one reader said simply, "Pick a day—get a dumb question." Here are our favorites—plus some responses we’d have been hard-pressed to keep to ourselves had we been asked:

  1. All of our employees are happy here, aren’t they? I am!
    Well, yes, all the employees with huge salaries, stock options, complete autonomy, a reserved parking space and a private office are happy.
  2. Am I paying you enough for what you do?
    Actually, I’ve been meaning to speak to you about that ...
  3. Wanna go play video games?
    Sure! How about if we go after I finish this game of solitaire and before the afternoon talk shows come on?
  4. Do I have to put my sick leave down on the time sheet?
    I guess not. We don’t mark down the times you make us sick.
  5. Do we really have to pay overtime if a person says he will work for free?
    I guess it depends on whether we really have to respond if the government charges us with labor law violations.
  6. Do you think women find it offensive when I laugh at their suggestions?
    I don’t know. Do you find it offensive when they laugh at your suggestions?
  7. Is the Internet open 24 hours a day?
    Yes, but you’ll need the special after-hours password.
  8. What color are my eyes?
    They’re about to be black and blue.
  9. Why do I need to talk to employees? Can’t you handle that?
    Sure, if I can tell them what I really think.
  10. Why don’t you tell your husband to quit his job to take care of errands for you?
    The concept isn’t bad. Maybe you could quit your job and take care of errands for me.

Workforce, June 1999, Vol. 78, No. 6, p. 40.