Hiring Wisdom: Cross These Questions Off Your Interview List

Illustration by istockphoto.com
Illustration by istockphoto.com

The following questions let the applicant take control of the interview because they ask only for opinions rather than verifiable facts:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is the gateway to just about anything the applicant wants to tell you about why you should hire them. It lets the applicant talk about what they want to talk about and not what you need to know.
  2. Why should I hire you? This question gives the applicant a chance to paint a picture of being wildly successful on the job and, again, control the flow of the interview. What prepared applicant would not have an answer to this question?
  3. What are you strengths? Are you really going to believe what the applicant tells you? How do you plan to verify these claims? Again, it gives control over to the applicant.
  4. What are your weaknesses? Every applicant knows the trick is to make a negative seem positive. Example: “I tend to work long hours and my co-workers often resent the example I set.”
  5. Why did you leave your last job? You may get a truthful answer some of the time, but not from the candidate who was let go for not being a team player or stealing.

This was originally published on Mel Kleiman’s Humetrics blog.

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Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.


3 Comments on “Hiring Wisdom: Cross These Questions Off Your Interview List

  1. I actually like using the first one. It’s a nice way to let the candidate settle into the interview before we hit the harder questions.

    Also, given that they can say anything they want, exactly what the candidate chooses to talk about says a lot about them. A well prepared answer that is succinct, yet lets you know who they are and some of their strengths, can demonstrate communication skills, the ability to order information, and preparation.

    Despite the obviousness of the question, it’s actually rare that I hear a solid answer to it.

  2. I use the first question all the time and have no intention of suspending its use.  The answer(s) let you know if the applicant is at all in tune with the whole interview process or what he thinks of the company and or the opportunity. BUT, I use it as the very last question, not the first.  After I have already asked everything that might seem important or imperative to me/the company/the role.  

    This is an open-ended question – one that when asked at the END of the interview – throws the candidate off-guard – it is unexpected and typically reveals far more than any other questions when asked the right way, at the right time.

    As Chris Higgins points out, if they are able to provide a solid answer, well then the question has done its job.  


  3. I kind of agree with Chris I like to get started with that question, it can be a way to always look out for the authenticity and organic side of people, one can try to get a glimpse of the candidates experiences and exposures… even though interviews are not valid tools in a hiring decision.

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