How do you evaluate a candidate? You have some questions, but are they the right ones? In the interview, you can also end up with the wrong questions by focusing more on what the interviewee has done in the past than what he can do in the future. And the wrong hire costs 30% of an employee’s annual salary, according to 2023 data from the US Department of Labor. The BIA HCS team tells you how to avoid questions that many candidates find old or irrelevant to the job they’re applying for.
1. What can you tell me about yourself?
Open-ended questions can be good for breaking the ice in conversation and will give you an insight into a person’s experience and character; however, asking to describe themselves is not a way to find out the information you are interested in. Instead, ask another type of open-ended question that relates to the job being interviewed for. This will allow the candidate to talk about his skills and what qualifies him for the job.
Instead, ask: Tell me something that isn’t on your resume that aligns with this job.
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
While this question can give you insight into a candidate’s career plans, it won’t show you that he has the skills to be successful. The answer to this question can give you some insight into his career aspirations. However, it won’t give you any indication of his motivation to do this job.
Instead, ask: How does this role fit into your career/career plans?
3. What is your greatest weakness?
The answer to this question does not give you insight into a candidate’s skills. He will give you predefined answers or he will say that he is too perfectionist or too dedicated. It’s better to ask an open-ended question that allows him to express his self-awareness about his development.
Instead, ask: If you encountered situation X, what steps would you take to solve the problem?
4. Why should I hire you?
Many candidates will say they fit the job. A restatement of this question will show you how well the candidate understands the job requirements.
Instead ask: How does your previous job align with the duties for this position?
5. Why do you want this job?
Candidates want a new job for any number of reasons: better pay, better benefits, don’t like their old manager. None of these answers give you valuable information to help you make a hiring decision.
Instead, ask: As you understand this job, what appeals to you the most?
6. What did you dislike about your last job?
People change jobs most often because of managers. Don’t ask a candidate to discuss about mismanagement or disagreements with a former employer. Another open-ended question about the candidate’s previous role would be better suited to find out the information you are interested in.
Instead, ask: What aspects of your previous job did you enjoy and what challenges did you have professionally?
7. What would your former manager say about you?
With this question, you allow the candidate the opportunity to exaggerate or invent. You can do a reference check instead, so you’ll hear directly from their former manager what they think of the candidate. Instead, you should ask the candidate how he relates to others.
Instead, ask the candidate: Tell me about a time when you were asked to work on a project as part of a team and how you handled the situation.
8. Where do you live?
You may like to ask this question to get an idea of where a person lives. However, with this question, you can discriminate against the candidate. To find out if the average commute time will be a problem for the candidate, you can ask this question differently.
Ask: Are you comfortable with your job?
9. What is your current salary?
In the US, California and other states have passed fair pay laws that prohibit asking this question. In Romania we still have until there, but we should follow this example:
Ask instead: What salary or compensation package do you want?
10. Are you married? Do you have children?
Family planning and family status are not the subject of interview questions. But what do you do when you want to find out this information because you have a project that spans 5 years?
Instead, ask: Do you foresee any situations that might prevent you from getting involved in this project?
As a recruiter or employer, you need to find out what the candidate’s relevant skills and experiences are. Here are some questions you should ask to avoid selecting a candidate based on the wrong criteria.
Questions that assess skills not just experience. Let’s imagine that a candidate asks you to evaluate his CV. The first thing you look at is probably where he worked and for how long. The advantage of hiring based on experience is that you get someone who has done what you need. The downside is that you risk limiting your candidate pool. Instead of asking, “Did you do x or y or z?” you might ask, “How can you do x or y or z?” This question change allows you to see the candidate’s current ability.
If you work in a creative field, you need someone who thinks like you. And by focusing on ability over experience, you increase your chances of finding that person.
Questions that assess the ability to work in a team. When you ask teams why their last major strategic effort failed, they rarely mention that there were team misunderstandings. But they say there were gaps/gaps in the team – roles that weren’t filled – and no one could step in to fix them. You could ask candidates, “How would you handle a situation where it’s clear that there is a gap in your team?”
Watch how he felt: Was he proud that he got involved in handling the team situation? That way you’ll know if you’re dealing with a team player or a know-it-all. Your mission is to find people who can work together, filling the gaps between predefined roles.
Questions that show if their purpose matches that of the company. If you figure out what people care about, you can bring together people who don’t have the same approaches but want to achieve the same goal.
Ask candidates, “What did you find meaningful about that project? Does this success matter to you?” People want a fit between their purpose and the company they work for.
A leader’s job is not to know all the answers, but to create the conditions to help candidates present their skills and find out which ones are right for their team. Some interview questions may simply be outdated, inappropriate, or pointless. Reevaluate them from the perspective of candidates, because they give your company a reputation.
Are you looking for a recruitment team to interview in a candidate-friendly way? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org