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6 Interview Questions you should Stop asking Candidates


Businesses are all about processes and process improvements.

But paradoxically, we are surrounded by certain terrible processes that remain unchanged since decades as they go unremarked and sometimes even considered sacred.

The best example is Job interviewing process. We have been following the same age-old interviewing scripts since generations.

interview questions not ask

Here are some of the interview questions that needs to get booted immediately during the interview process with the candidates.

1. Tell me about yourself:

It’s a widely accepted practice to start the interview with this “Tell me about yourself” question with the intention to open up the candidate and build rapport.

The reasoning is good but not the question. Especially when the candidates have more than a few years of experience, this does not give any insights about the candidate’s technical or cultural fit.

Slight modification of the question will do the trick. You can ask : “Tell me about your most recent project – what was your role?”

2. What are your Weaknesses / Strengths?

There are multiple problems with this one.

  1. First, Every candidate knows how to answer this question: Just pick an imaginary weakness and magically transform it into a strength-in-disguise.
  2. Second, you don’t know what they are showing as strength is really their strength.

If you really want to gain insights about these traits, there is a better way to ask this : When I call your previous boss and ask him which area of your work are you best at and which of them needs most improvement, what will I find out?

This way you have a higher chance of getting an honest response from the candidate. No amount of finesse will influence this answer as the candidate knows that when the boss is bought into the conversation, the truth will anyways come out.

3. Where do you want to see yourself in 5 years?

While interviewing the candidates, it is OK to get a bit curious about them and if our organizations can guarantee employment that long, this “where do you want to see yourself in 5 years “can be a great question to ask. But everyone knows the reality!

With a little refinement, this can be turned into a great question. First be clear : What is it that you want to discover from this question?

If you are interested to know if the candidate is ambitious enough, You can ask something like: Tell me about time when you wanted a role at any cost and how did you manage to get it?

If it was to know if the candidate wants to remain technical, You can ask : Do you want to remain technical or do you see yourself moving into something else?

Try to go deeper, identify the real intention behind the question and reframe it accordingly.

4. Out of all other candidates, why should we hire you?

The only way the candidate can answer this question is by telling you how hard-working and passionate and dedicated and bla bla .. they are; as they don’t know the rest of the candidates.

Here is a better way to ask : “Tell me something that we have not discussed yet and which will help me decide upon your candidature in a better way.”

5. How would you move Mt Fuji?

We know you love Google. Everyone does. But that does not mean you should blindly follow everything they do.

These seemingly bizzare interview questions; that have the potential to knock any candidates out of the race before they even start showcasing any actual job skills; were meant to check the candidates’ creativeness and problem solving skills.

But Google lately found out that they were doing no help in finding the right talent. So they not only scrapped it, They banned it.

Thumb-rule here to follow is – If you can not draw direct correlation from the question to your real work, do not ask it.

6. What was your GPA

Unless you are hiring for graduates or freshers, Do not ask for GPA’s. GPA’s has nothing to do with job performance barring a few exceptions. GPA presents a narrow record of success in a very controlled environment.

If you want to determine the chances of effectiveness of the candidate for the role you are hiring, the better question to ask would be: Tell me about your past experience which you think was the most relevant to this job?

Remember that the best interviews are always the unscripted ones. And that you will learn much more about candidates by letting them ask you questions than by making them answer yours.

Do you have questions that you have honed over years of recruiting experience, Questions that you are certain will tell you everything you want to know about candidates?

Share them in comments.