Why we need to stop asking silly interview questions of the right candidates


While the talent war shows no signs of slowing down, with the “Great Resignation” still in full swing and a 20% of people plan to leave their jobs in 2022, many leaders will think about what they can do to attract top talent. But it’s not just about getting people to apply for roles. It’s also about keeping them engaged during the hiring process. One false move on the employer’s part, and a candidate could lose interest in a job sooner than they applied. Usually, a lukewarm response from a candidate is the result of one of two things: either they realized the role wasn’t for them, or they had a bad interview.

The consequences of generic interview questions

Bad interview questions aren’t just boring. They are futile. Banal, unimaginative questions leave candidates repeating the same spiel that is already described on their resume and cover letter. These types of questions only reveal a candidate’s ability to regurgitate the obvious. And if they fail the candidate – who is deprived of the opportunity to be creative in their answers – they also fail the interviewer, who nonetheless remains aware of the candidate’s competence.

So what is a bad question? A bad question is also known as a knowledge-based question. For example, “Tell me about yourself? Why do you want the role? How many years of experience do you have?’ All of these elements should have been addressed in the initial correspondence or, at the very least, in a pre-screening questionnaire.

Make no mistake: a knowledge-based question or two can be beneficial. “What do you think of the role? for example, or “what did you like the most about our recent project for xyz?” helps determine if the candidate has done their homework. But too many generic knowledge-based questions make interviews painful for both parties.

Give candidates the opportunity to be creative

The right type of interview question will test the candidate – not to intimidate them, but to get a sense of their working style, personality, and creativity in no time. These questions are known as personality-based questions.

Examples of personality-based questions might include “How would you handle x situation?” How would you approach a project involving you? We see that you have worked on this project in the past; If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently? »

These allow candidates to demonstrate independence of thought and problem solving. And you will get interesting and varied answers. They can also reveal whether a candidate may be confrontational, evasive or micro-managerial.

This speaks to the value of an incisive personality-based question. It makes no sense to ask them indiscriminately. For example, ‘What motivates you?’ may seem incisive, but it is arguably too broad and abstract to elicit an informative response. Coffee is motivating. The same goes for justice, comments and holidays. The thing is, a question like this is likely to receive similar responses from all respondents. It’s hard to imagine anyone answering “injustice”, “no return” or “hours of work worthy of Oliver Twist”. A good personality-based question should aim higher and deeper than the boilerplate

Standard questions are also insulting to the candidate’s intelligence. A job seeker worthy of the name will have taken hours to prepare. For the interviewer, confronting this preparation with a question that could be asked of anyone not only deprives the candidate of a chance to reveal who they really are, but speaks ill of the interviewer, who may give the impression that he did not spend much time to find out about the candidate in advance. Instead of What motivates you?they should consider asking Why were you motivated to do xyz?

We’ll be in touch

A good interview should allow the interviewer to say the above words and think them. The talent shortage – especially in technology – has forced employers to compete fiercely for the talent they need. Workplace benefits and culture, hybrid, and a well-oiled HR department are just some of the ways to achieve this. But the humble maintenance, so often overlooked, is a good place to start.

Rita Trehan is the founder of DARE Worldwide


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