If you’ve been using the same set of interview questions for goodness-knows-how-long, perhaps it’s time to give your list a second look. And if any of these *gems* (ahem) are there, please, get rid of them now!
Tell me a little bit about yourself. This question is so vague, job seekers aren’t sure how to respond. How far back? Personal or professional? How does this relate to your company or the job opportunity? Ask yourself if the answer is going to help you determine if the job seeker is right for the role. If not, scrap it.
If you were a ____, what kind would you be? Fill in the blank with tree/animal/whatever, and you’re still stuck with a useless interview question that doesn’t provide any real insight into whether the candidate is someone you should hire. Unless your hiring criteria revolves around clever, smart-aleck, or off-the-cuff responses … and that can backfire all the way around in an interview!
What’s your biggest weakness? Seriously, who is going to answer that honestly? No one is going to admit to major flaw in their personality or a major shortcoming in skills. Why set job seekers up to lie or make up inane responses that they *hope* are something you want to hear? “My biggest weakness is I work too hard.” No one is good at everything. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on strengths?
Where do you see yourself in five years? I’ve been asked this question and it was a real struggle to answer. At the time, I was a really young professional interviewing for a job I wasn’t sure I would like, let alone love. It was a lateral move, and I was in a market that didn’t have many professional opportunities. I didn’t feel like I could fairly say I’d still be at the job in five years. I also hadn’t been working long enough to really understand what my career path could be. On top of that, I thought relocation was a real likelihood. Eventually I said I felt comfortable committing to two years. Fortunately, the interviewer said (later) that if he couldn’t keep me interested beyond that, it was his fault, not mine.
What do you know about us? While this interview question shows that the job seeker at least spent *some* time researching your company, it still doesn’t necessarily offer any input about why they’re interested in the role, how they feel they can contribute, or what specifically drew them to the opportunity.
Why should I hire you? I think the interviewer’s intent here is that the candidate will deliver a statement that summarizes their ability, how they can solve a problem/challenge you have, and shows their enthusiasm for the opportunity. The reality is that it makes job seekers feel like they are groveling for your benevolence. Why not explain a challenge or project that exists or is going to exist, and ask how they can contribute to a solution?
Bonus points if you have already stopped asking these types of interview questions, which are dangerous, if not flat-out illegal, to ask in the US:
- Questions relating to age or retirement plans
- Questions relating to marital or family status
- Questions relating to sexual orientation
- Questions relating to religious practices
- Questions relating to race, ethnicity, or citizenship
What other bad interview questions have you encountered? Chime in below!