Business interview

Interview Questions to Avoid – and What to Ask Instead

January 17, 2017 By: Dave Rietsema
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The interview is perhaps the most critical part of the hiring process. While application filtering can help you to identify your most qualified candidates, it is the interview that will help you to assess culture fit, figure out if the candidate has a negative or positive attitude, and make an educated guess on whether the person has the chops to handle the position.

Interview questions are a hiring manager’s toolkit to finding out what you wish to know about a candidate. Make sure that you have the right tools in your bag by getting rid of the following generic, ineffective, and inappropriate questions and asking the right ones.

1. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Asking a candidate why they want to work at your place of business is nothing more than an invitation to talk up your company, in most cases. It’s highly unnecessary in determining what actually makes the employee candidate tick. Asking an employee more about their work in the field and talking to them about your firm as it relates to their experience creates a more human dialogue than trying to put them on the spot.

2. What Is Your Marital Status?

It’s illegal to ask an employee candidate about their marital status and it’s frowned upon to ask about children. An employee candidate may feel that they have been discriminated against if asked these questions and not hired, as they may feel that the interviewer didn’t hire them because they weren’t single or because they may have to work around children’s schedules.

Personal questions should be avoided in general, because they don’t really relate to the job. Instead, ask an employee about something that may be helpful, such as outside interests or hobbies. An employee’s hobby could help to differentiate him or her and assist with development.

3. Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?

It is important to establish an employee candidate’s stability before hiring them, but asking why he or she left a previous job is generally unhelpful. The exact circumstances that lead the employee to seek a new job can be difficult to understand from an outside perspective and the candidate is likely to leave out anything negative about the previous company that may make him or her sound bad.

Instead of asking why the candidate left a previous job, you may be better off asking what he or she loved and hated about a previous job or even more specifically, what made them feel fulfilled about the job and what didn’t. These types of questions are more likely to evoke answers that can be useful for the employee’s position, rather than just putting them on guard.

4. Are You a Hard Worker?

Asking an employee about their work ethic is futile, because they are very unlikely to respond in the negative. You can assess work ethic by asking more specific questions about what an employee would do in a specific scenario or how they have gone above and beyond in previous jobs.

Gearing questions away from standard, boring questions and toward questions that are more specific and relevant can help you to better assess an employee candidate’s fit. The hiring process will likely be better for everyone involved, as well.


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