Don't ask ineffective interview questions

Don’t waste everyone’s time by asking ineffective interview questions

Did you ever think, back at the start of your career – when you were first attending job interviews – that some of the questions you were asked were a little pointless or silly? Just consider that evergreen classic, “Why do you want to work here?”, for instance. Who seriously answers that question by being honest and simply saying, “I need a decently-paid job in my field to pay the bills?”

Well, perhaps the most shocking thing is that you may have been right to have such suspicions, way back then. We’ve observed for ourselves here at Webrecruit, that too many recruiters do ask questions that don’t help them to pick the right people in their online recruitment campaigns.

So with that in mind, here are some of our pointers for ensuring you avoid the same trap of asking unhelpful questions when you next invite a candidate into the interview room.

Are you forcing candidates to lie?

In their attempts to ask ‘challenging’, awkward questions, hiring managers sometimes effectively back their candidate into a corner, leaving them feeling they have little option but to lie.

Consider, for instance, what is going through your candidate’s mind when you ask them to tell you their greatest weakness. They’re hardly likely to tell you that they’re lazy or their timekeeping is poor. Instead, they will probably come up with a ‘weakness’ that also serves to flatter themselves – for example, “I work too hard” – and you’ll be left with little actual truthful information about them.

Nor should your questions be irrelevant or poorly targeted

If there’s anything even worse than a question so awkward that it is counterproductive, it is surely a question that doesn’t concern something you really need to know about.

Even some of the most familiar job-interview tropes – such as “Give an example of when you worked well as part of a team” – might not be very applicable in all circumstances, such as if the role does not require much teamwork or coordination with others at all.

Not all questions have a straightforward ‘good’ or ‘bad’ answer

There isn’t a simple ‘good’ or ‘bad’ response to give to certain questions, which isn’t necessarily the worst thing – unless you think there actually is just one good response that a candidate should give.

A good example of such a question could be, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” The truth is that most people have little idea what they will be doing in five years’ time. This means they may be easily tempted to say something extremely ambitious – such as being in the same seat as you – or give a nondescript answer, such as “I just want to do my best and achieve my greatest career potential.”

If you think one of these replies is superior to the other, you probably aren’t being sufficiently open-minded. In truth, neither of them gives you much real insight into the candidate.

Is the question so common that the candidate simply gives a rehearsed answer?

Candidates these days do tend to research possible interview questions and devise pre-planned responses to them that they can recall from memory if asked.

It’s therefore not a great idea to only ask the most obvious interview questions if your goal is to test your candidate’s ability to think on their feet with good answers to tough, unpredictable questions.

Could you do with enhancing and refining all aspects of your firm’s online recruitment? If so, your first important step may be to contact the Webrecruit team, as you can do by calling 01392 829 400.

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