Interview questions the recruiter should avoid
There is a category of questions recruiters shouldn’t ask applicants. Inadequate or outdated interview questions don’t give you valuable information about the candidate and only waste your time. By avoiding time-wasting questions, you can get to the point faster and narrow your list of applicants down with ease.
Such questions may sound like this:
1. Where do you live?
Interviewers ask this question to get an idea of where the candidate lives concerning the work location. However, it borders on illegal.
To know if commuting may be an issue for the candidate, you can ask this question differently: “Are you comfortable with the work location?”
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question does not give you a clear insight into the applicant’s career wishes or, more importantly, their ability to do the job but puts the candidate in the position where they have to answer that they would like to be with the company for that time.
It would be better to ask: “Where does this position fit along your long-term career ladder?”
3. Why should we hire you?
Asking this question, you put the candidate on the spot and may back them into a corner. If you ask the candidate a variation of this question, it will demonstrate how well the candidate understands the job requirements.
You should ask, for instance, “How does your previous work experience align with the duties for this position?”
4. What is your biggest weakness?
This question will hardly tell you anything about the candidate’s skills. Moreover, this question is so common that many candidates probably have prepared answers to it.
It seems better to ask open-ended questions that allow applicants to display self-awareness about their potential growth. For example, “What professional development would make you a more effective employee?”
5. Why do you want this job?
Candidates want a new job for countless reasons. Therefore, none of the answers will give you valuable information to help you make a hiring decision.
Instead, it would be more reasonable to ask: “As you understand this job, what is the biggest attraction to it for you?”
6. Can you describe yourself in one sentence?
As an interviewer, you should already know how candidates would describe themselves.
Open-ended questions are usually better to spark the conversation and provide you with a deeper understanding of the applicant’s work experience and character. For instance, the recruiter may say: “Could you tell me something, not on your resume that aligns with this job?”
7. What did you like least about your previous job?
People change jobs for different reasons, but they often do it because of a poor manager.
It would help if you didn’t ask the candidate to discuss poor management or even malign their previous employer.
A different open-ended question about the candidate’s prior position would suit better to give you valuable information, for example, “What aspects of your previous position did you find most professionally challenging?”
8. What would your former manager say about you?
Asking such a question, you put the applicant in the position to either lie or make something up. Plus, the recruiter has to conduct a reference check to know directly from the applicant’s former manager what they think about the applicant.
Instead, it would be better to ask something like this: “Would your former colleagues describe you as a team player?”
9. If you were stuck on a desert island where you could bring with you only three things, what would you take and why?
This question does not give you any information about the applicant’s ability to do the job.
Instead, it may be more reasonable to ask: “On your last day of your current job, what three things would you tell your replacement?”
10. If you could choose a different career, what would it be?
Whatever the candidate answers, their answers will give you no information about how they will work for your company.
It would be much better to ask like this: “Could you tell me about a challenging project or work experience you had to overcome?”
11. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
This is another theoretical question that does not give you any valuable information about the candidate. In addition, this is one more common question, so many candidates probably have prepared answers to it.
Instead, you may ask a different question: “If you could have one additional skill to do this job better, what would it be, and why do you think it would be beneficial?”
12. Do you have a car?
Asking this question, the recruiter wants to know if the applicant can perform specific tasks related to the position. However, it borders on illegal.
To know if the candidate can perform particular responsibilities, you can ask this question differently: “This job may require you to travel long distances. Are you ready to meet the job commitments?”
13. How did your childhood shape your career?
This question borders on illegal. Plus, the answer will not give you any helpful information about how the candidate will perform in the role.
If the recruiter wants to know how the candidate’s prior experience aligns with the job, they should ask: “How has your experience prepared you for this role?”
14. Could you tell me about yourself?
This is a classic example of an outdated interview ice-breaker.
If you want to avoid time-wasting making the candidate ramble, try asking something more specific, like “What did you find most challenging about your previous job, both in a good and bad way?”
15. Yes/No questions.
Questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer do not give any insight into the candidate’s work experience and skill set. For example, if you ask a question like “Are you a team player?" what answer may you receive?
Instead, it is more acceptable to ask open-ended questions to let the candidates mention their best qualities and job experience.