Interview questions to stop asking candidates.


For the longest time, irrelevant, personal, and condescending questions have characterized job interviews. This takes away the whole purpose of getting to know the candidate and gauging their ability to do the job. Yes, the interview process is long, tedious and boring. Still, recruiters owe it to themselves, fellow employees, their employer and the interviewee to find a long-term candidate who will blend in well with the team. Interviews are the foundation of a successful recruitment process. So, how well do interviewers use their 30-60 minutes window of time? Do they ask the right questions tailored to the job at hand, or do they ask the same old cliche question? Unfortunately, some questions are utterly pointless and unsettling, and it is a shame that you will find these questions in the interview room. Below are some of the questions that should not find their way into the interview room anymore:

  1. What would your previous boss/supervisor say about you?

This question automatically assumes that it is the employee’s responsibility to know what their superiors think about them, not the case. The question also indicates some esteem issues where an employee should be pleasing the bosses instead of doing their job and growing professionally.  Suppose the interviewer really needs to know what the previous boss has to say about the candidate. In that case, they can always ask one of the referees to be a previous boss/ supervisor and follow up with a reference check.

2. How much was your salary in your previous role?

Salary history is a private matter that should remain private. Different organisations use different parameters to arrive at an amount for a specific role. Some organisations will opt to pay more for a position depending on the budget and overall compensation packaging. Whereas, some organisations generally do not value good employees and choose to underpay to save cost. For these reasons, salary history is an irrelevant question during the interview process. Also, by the time a  vacancy is advertised, a budget for the role has already been approved by the Human Resource and line manager. Suppose an interviewer wants to gauge whether or not they can afford the candidate. In that case, they should ask for a minimum range the candidate is willing to accept and use it to determine if to continue with the recruitment process or not.

3. Why should we hire you?

The reason why you should or should not hire the candidate can be found in their CV, skillset, years of experience, personality and how they have answered previous questions. This question amounts to the interviewer asking the candidate to beg for the job. It should not be the job seeker to tell you that they are the right hire. It is the interviewer’s role to determine the right hire because they know the job inside and out, they know the company culture, and they know the other candidates competing for the same role.

This question automatically assumes that it is the employee’s responsibility to know what their superiors think about them.  READ ALSO: How to Negotiate A Job Offer

4. What is your greatest weakness?

As long as the candidate has well-articulated what they are good at, what they are not good at is not important. It is a personal and intrusive question. Generally, our weaknesses are not things we are proud of. Some are things they are working on, so why would a candidate want to list them? As an interviewer, be ready to get a dishonest and well-rehearsed answer for this question as the candidates try to water down their actual weakness.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

This question is like a road that leads to nowhere. The answer does not help in the hiring decisions. There is no wrong or correct answer because it all depends on the personal projection of one career journey. The question is intrusive because the interviewer is simply asking the candidate to let them in on their five-year career plan. It is also becoming increasingly hard to answer this question due to the turbulency of the labour market and constant market disruptions.  If anything the past year has taught us, no one knows where they will be, or the world situation will be in the next five years. Interviewers should instead focus on the contract period of the position at hand and the achievements the candidate is hoping to achieve.

Old ways won’t open new doors- Unknown

6. How would you tackle the situation XYZ

This is a great question to get a glimpse of the candidate’s thought process and problem-solving skills. It, however, fails to showcase the real-life execution bit. Is the candidate’s execution modus operandi in line with how the organisation operates? We also know of cases where companies use such questions to get naive candidates’ business ideas without paying a consultation fee. It is ethically wrong. Interviewers should instead ask for real-life situations where the candidates handled a similar or an almost similar situation.

The best interviews are conversational. They help both the interviewer and interviewee connect. The interviewer gets to learn the interviewee in a way that adds value to the recruitment process. Interviewers should not be afraid to catch candidates off guard, though. It shows the candidates ability to think on their feet and speak authentically.

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