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12 Feb 15

4 Interview Questions You Need To Stop Asking

Posted by Rory White

Our job as interviewers and recruiters is to get the best out of our candidates. We all know that the process is as nerve racking for candidates as it is for interviewers, so getting the interview questions right is key.

Yet, some very common interview questions are extremely unhelpful. At the same time some great questions aren’t being asked often enough.

The 4 interview questions you need to stop asking right now

1. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Candidates, especially in today’s job market, struggle to see where they are going to be in 18 months let alone 5 years. We are hoping that candidates will still be here in 2 years, so what is the benefit of discussing a 5 year plan? There are way too many choices in life, so let’s focus on getting the most out of the person in the role you are offering them right now.

2. Why should we hire you?

All this question is doing is asking candidates to grovel and inflate our egos. We can’t expect candidates to have the knowledge we do, or know who else we are interviewing. You are much better off asking them what questions they have about the post and the organisation.

3. What would your past managers say about you?

The information you get out of asking this question is not helpful at all. That’s because you are merely asking the candidate to illustrate how their ex managers praised their work.

4. What’s your greatest weakness?

Do we really expect candidates to be upfront about this? Also, what would be a weakness in one situation could be a strength in another – so it’s extremely tricky to pin down.

The 4 questions you need to start asking instead

1. What questions do you have about the post?

This is a great question to ask, and really insightful. It not only demonstrates the process that candidates have gone through prior to the interview but also how they will operate in a work environment. If a candidate is asking you about a campaign, for example, and how that campaign compares to other organisations’ work, their answer tells you that they can see the bigger picture.

2. How would this job advance your career?

We are all trying to work out at interview whether or not this person is serious about the role and someone worth investing in. Their answer will give you some insight into how serious they are about the role – is it just another job, or a considered move? Getting this right will make your hire not only more successful but also aid longer term retention of staff.

3. Please tell me about your previous work that seems most relevant to this post.

This is a great question. The answer demonstrates a candidate’s understanding of what is important and what isn’t, especially in relation to your organisation. A good answer will demonstrate their understanding of what they were doing before, its relevance to their previous organisation, and its relevance to your organisation.

4. What do you think we are doing wrong?

This is a brilliantly insightful question. You are looking for candidates to be genuinely insightful in their answers – to demonstrate some understanding of the market, but also to demonstrate the ability to be critical and bring new ideas into your organisation.