Five Common Interview Questions That Don’t Matter
In an ideal world, every job interview would be about 10 minutes long. The interviewer would ask serious questions, the applicant would answer concisely and honestly, and they would end with a firm handshake. In the real world, interviews are a complex dance. Too often interviewers are trying to find reasons not to hire someone while applicants are trying to present themselves in the best light possible. Cutting down on the runaround involves cutting out the dead weight. These questions don’t matter, and dropping them will save both applicant and interviewer time.
1. What kind of animal would you be
This question could also be “What kind of tree would you be?” and “What’s your favorite movie?” Many interviewers try to use questions like these to soften up their applicants. Relax, get them comfortable, and then hit them with a hard question. On the other hand, some interviewers do it in the name of corporate culture. No matter the reason, there are better ways to get your desired information. You can look at what job recruitment agency the candidate came from to get an idea of the culture. You can tell them about the desired culture and see how they respond. At the end of the day, does it matter if they see themselves as a gazelle, or an elm, or love made for TV sob-fests? Not if they get the job done.
2. Describe a time you made a mistake and how you would correct it today
Hindsight is 20/20. Of course they can tell you what they should have done now. Besides, you’re unlikely to hear about the worst mistake they’ve ever made. Questions like this have pat answers that aren’t going to tell you much. If they’ve gone through a job recruitment agency to find your opening, they’ve been drilled on this topic a thousand times.
3. So, tell me a little about yourself
This open ended question is another way interviewers try to get a feel for an applicant as a person, not a resume. While this is an admirable goal, it can leave applicants feeling like their interests are under question, not their skills. They may feel pressured to say that they enjoy activities they believe you would approve of. Even if they answer honestly, you’re not interviewing applicants to be your new best friend. You can glean personal facts from how they answer more serious questions. Even worse, a nervous candidate might launch into their life story, starting at birth and ending with how they went through job recruiters in Dallas, Texas to find this opening.
4. Have you ever been formally disciplined
This is, from a professional standpoint, not really an interviewer’s business. If they’ve stated that they’ve never been fired, their disciplinary record falls under private areas. You put them in an awkward spot, and it sounds nosey and accusatory. Besides which, many great employees will be formally disciplined at one time or another. You could be clouding your own judgement.
5. What’s your biggest strength/weakness
This is a good question if you want to know whether or not an applicant knows what you want to hear. Everyone is going to tell you they’re a great communicator, perfectionist, workaholic who just cares about their employer too much as they wipe a single tear from their eye. Instead, ask about specific situations where they demonstrated their skills, and specific scenarios where they learned something from a mentor figure. What they learned is what they’re weakest in.
Cutting dead weight questions from your interview process will streamline it. You’ll get a better feel for your applicants and waste less time filling roles in your business. You won’t have to empty all the job recruiters in Dallas, Texas, just to find your new employee.