Interviews are often an exhausting experience both for the interviewer and the interviewee. Interviewers rarely know what to ask, and frequently end up asking generic, and relatively useless questions. Choosing generic questions makes things easier for hiring managers, but an interview can and should be so much more than that. Here are a few common questions that just need to go, so that you can transform you interview into an experience that helps you align your goals with those of your new hire.
Where do You See Yourself in 5 Years?
This question is a trap. If the interviewee answers that they see themselves working this job diligently they might look complacent to the interviewer. If, on the other hand, they reply that they see themselves in management, or running the place, they might make the interviewer feel threatened. There isn’t a good answer to this question.
Instead, ask: How Will This Job Help You Achieve Your Goals?
This question assumes that the interviewer wants the interviewee to succeed, and that their personal goals matter. It gives the interviewee the freedom to tell the truth, which is often as simple as achieving financial stability, or acquiring new skills. The information you can get here is hugely important, because helping to meet this need can be key to retaining your new hire in the long term.
Why Did You Apply At This Company?
While the economy is recovering, we are not at a point where a job searcher can have their pick of a job at any of a large number of businesses. They applied because they need a job, and because they think they’re qualified. Of course, this question is actually meant to check if the candidate has done their research on the interviewing business.
Interview questions should not be coded in a way that requires people to make an un-intuitive leap to answer the secret hidden question you didn’t bother to ask.
Instead, ask: How Can You Help Our Business Succeed?
This question is always answerable, while also checking to see if the candidate has done their research. The more specific their answer is, the clearer it is that they know what they’re talking about. If they didn’t do their research, they’ll still be able to answer based on their expertise and their limited knowledge of your business without awkwardly breaking down the conversation.
What’s Your Biggest Weakness?
You can get some useful answers from this question, but it’s worded in an awkward manner. It invites interviewees to think of reasons why they shouldn’t be hired. This question is a red flag that indicates that the interviewer could be a poor communicator. Usually the interviewer wants to hear a story of personal and professional growth, so why not just ask for it?
Instead, ask: Please Tell Me About Something That Made You Grow Professionally
Candidates that have made and dealt with major mistakes at work will understand this question and answer it appropriately. Less experienced candidates will still be able to answer it, by answering with something about their education or other background information. They way they answer, as well as the substance, can tell you a lot about your job candidate.
Micha Boettiger is a freelance writer and digital strategist. You can find out more about his work on his website, Writer Worldwide, or by following him on Twitter @writerworldwide.