Questions interviewers need to stop asking interviewees

Last month we featured questions of what you need to be asking your interviewer. This month, we’re focusing on what recruiters need to stop asking their interviewees.

Of course it goes without saying that a recruiter should never ask any questions relating to sex, gender, race, disability, and age. Questions like these are usually rooted in discrimination and are illegal to ask. Even if you ask them in a roundabout way. So, it’s illegal to ask how old somebody is. It’s also illegal to ask what year they were born. You get the gist, basically.

We’ve all had bad interviews, and we’ve all had worse questions. Ask anyone in your office and they’ll tell you a time about when they got asked what kind of animal they’d be or what their star sign is. They say there’s no such thing as stupid questions – only stupid answers. But we beg to differ. There’s interview questions that we get asked time and time again, despite them being universally acknowledged as bad questions.

“What’s your greatest weakness?”

The worst offender. Right at the top of the “don’t ask” list, and yet for some reason I personally have been asked it multiple times. The majority of my friends and colleagues have also been asked this more than once. Recruiters are absolutely guaranteed to never get an honest answer. In a situation where someone wants to sell themselves, having to put themselves effectively in a firing line is stressful and only yields bad stock answers taken from a website on recruitment.

I’ve answered this question honestly once in my entire life. It was the first time I had been asked. I had gone for an interview at a fashion company, conducted by someone with the firmest handshake I’d ever experienced. The question completely threw me off guard, so I answered as honestly as I possibly could. I said previous employers struggled with my attitude. Safe to say, I didn’t get that job.

This question can come in different forms. “List three skills you do not have yet,” and “Give us an example of how you failed and how you dealt with it,” are thinly veiled masquerades of this question.

“Compared to other candidates, why should we hire you?”

Seeing as the candidate isn’t clairvoyant, and probably almost definitely hasn’t met the other applicants in some bizarre business meet-cute, the question reduces them to basically begging for the job. Their CV and previous interview questions are already a good indicator of whether you should be hiring this person or not.

Interviews are a two way street, and this question doesn’t sell yourself or your company. The interviewee probably already has other job interviews lined up, and this is something they’ll remember if they’re given multiple offers.

“What does an ideal workday look like for you?”/”How do you structure your day?”

You can only really answer this on a practical level. You have a set number of tasks to do in a day – usually important or immediate first. Immediate and important even sooner. Preferably doing some of tomorrow’s tasks to lessen the load for that day.

“Where do you see yourself in five years time?”

Not to be dramatic, but there’s no response to this question that is worthwhile. Companies are aware of millennial job hopping, and with a constantly changing landscape of work, no one can say for sure where they’re going to be in five years time. Saying you want to still be at the company seems unrealistic and forced, talking of working elsewhere shows a lack of loyalty, and so on.

As long as there is interviews, there will be bad questions. If you feel like breaking the cycle of bad interviews, then working freelance or starting your own company is always a good way to side step this. And if you’re thinking of breaking free from that, then you’re going to need a killer office. Check out our website here to see what Spaces can do for you.

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