Prepping for interviews can be tough. From arranging schedules to managing time, no stone should be left unturned. However, in our quest to find the ideal candidate we sometimes forget that there are certain types of questions that really don’t belong in the interview room.
Here are some of the question types we think you should drop from your interview template, and despite what you may think salary isn’t one of these taboos.
Hypothetical ‘what if’ interview questions
‘What would you do if a colleague wasn’t pulling their weight?’
It’s a common question style that is often designed to test a candidate’s decision-making skills or their leadership qualities. However, the hypothetical ‘what if’ question is extremely hit and miss.
If you’re lucky, then your candidate may be able to relate this hypothetical situation to something that occurred in their previous role. If not, then their answer will likely be nothing more than an attempt to impress.
Better to stick with specific questions that ask the candidate about their own personal experiences. You know, things that actually happened to them.
Something along the lines of ‘Tell me about a time you had trouble working with a colleague?’ would give you a better insight into the mind and personality of your candidate.
‘How many basketballs would it take to fill this room?’
Google and Facebook are known for dropping unexpected questions in their interviews with each question designed to see how their candidates react to unexpected situations or stress. However, asking how many basketballs a candidate can fit inside the interview room tells you absolutely nothing about their on-the-job skills.
Trick questions are like bad jokes, they have no place in an interview setting and put your already nervous candidate under even more pressure. Have a heart and stick to topics that both you and your candidate are comfortable with.
If you want to know more about how they deal with the stress on the job, then set up a job audition. We suggested this just last week when we spoke about upping your interview game, and even if we do say so ourselves, it’s a wonderful idea.
‘Tell me your greatest weakness.’
Now, this is one of the most common questions hiring managers ask candidates all over the world, but it’s also one of the most pointless. Very few candidates will answer this truthfully and to be honest, we can’t really blame them. After all, the interview is probably not the best time to bring up their tendency to run a little late in the morning.
So we end up with answers straight out of the ‘How to get a Job’ handbook. ‘I’m a bit of a perfectionist’ or ‘I won’t stop until I finish a job’ are classic examples of cookie-cutter answers that mean nothing and merely reflect the focus from weaknesses to supposed strengths.
A better approach would be to ask a direct question relating to an issue they once had at work.
Something like ‘Tell me how you handled a mistake that you made or a failure in your previous job’ will encourage your candidate to be honest about their failings and how they overcame any related issues.
Of course, you’ll have to reassure them that we all make poor judgment calls and that discussing their failures is merely a way to see how they learned from their mistakes.
‘Do you have kids?’
A great interview usually ends up feeling more like a good chat than a formal question and answer session, and sometimes these questions will creep into the conversation. They start talking about family, and you ask about their kids; it’s a natural progression. However, it’s important to remember where to draw the line.
You should never ask personal questions about age, sexual orientation, religion, culture, their marital status, or disabilities. Not only is it unprofessional but it could also open up a whole can of worms should they fail to land the job.
Discrimination of any kind is illegal, and if you talk too much about disabilities, religion, or other personal details in the interview, your candidate may assume that this was the reason they didn’t get the role.
For most of us, this is plain common sense, after all, we’re here to fill a role not to make friends. However, as we said earlier, there are occasions when a candidate will inadvertently bring up these subjects by themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but no matter how tempting it may be to stay on the topic, you need to steer the conversation back towards work.
‘You already know the answer’ questions
‘Did you ever lead a team before?’
Asking a candidate where they went to school or what responsibilities they held in a previous role might seem like reasonable questions that can help you gain some background knowledge. The problem is that if you read their resume, then you should probably know the answers already.
Nothing smacks of unprofessionalism more than a recruiter or hiring manager that obviously hasn’t done their homework. It’s detrimental not only to the image of the interviewer but also that of the company.
Does the candidate really want to work for a company that doesn’t even care enough to read their resume? Probably not.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t discuss these topics; far from it. All you need to do is be a little more specific with your questions.
A question like ‘I see you headed up a project in your last position, can you tell me a little more about it?’ shows that you took the time to read their resume and that you have a genuine interest in their answer.
We've told you what not to ask, but we also want to show you how to up your interview game and make sure you know who you hire.
Time to take a look at your interview process
Do you include these types of questions in your interview process or are you already trying a fresh approach? Either way, you can’t even get to the interview stage without qualified candidates, and we all know who can help you with that, right? Yes, it’s those workaholic sourcing consultants we have here at vsource HQ.
So if you’d like help sourcing qualified potential hires, our consultants would be thrilled to join your team. And don’t worry, just as our people fit right in with your team, so too does our software, integrating seamlessly with your ATS and CRM. So drop us a line now, and we’ll set one of our consultants to work on your candidate pipeline right away.