Welcome to the Vital Integrities Blog

The 10 Dumbest (and Most Common) Job Interview Questions

If you do any , you know that interviewing job candidates is hard work. How do you know if this person is a good fit? Are you asking the right questions? Are the questions legal? Unfortunately, most interviewers rely on stock questions that applicants find corny and meaningless. Here are the worst:

What are your weaknesses? In a town-hall debate during the 2004 election, an audience member asked President Bush to "give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision." The President hemmed and hawed, undoubtedly picturing the next day's headlines in his mind: "Bush Admits First Term a Mistake." Job candidates face the same dilemma answering this give-me-one-good-reason-why-I-shouldn't-hire-you question. If you answer honestly, you might take yourself out of contention. If you proclaim yourself weakness-free, you'll probably come across as arrogant. Tiptoe around the question, as George Bush did, and the interview will stall. Skip this trick question and give applicants more time to expound on their strengths.

If You Were an Animal, What One Would You Want to Be? Is this a job interview, or the Miss Cherry Blossom pageant? "I'd like to be a dove, so I could spread peace throughout the world." Interviewers like this question because they think they'll get some insight into the candidate's personality. Are you aggressive (lion, tiger, killer whale) or passive (kitty, bunny, sheep)? It also allows them to play amateur psychologist. What's next? Inkblots?

What are some things you would like to avoid in a job? "Well, let's see. I'd like to avoid working nights and weekends, having to fetch the boss's lunch, standing by while my co-workers are harassed, tolerating a superior who takes credit for my best ideas, and sitting next to someone who smells badly. Other than that, I'm up for anything." Come on, be candid. If you are asking this question, you're not disclosing something. If the job requires sixty hours per week, say so. Don't wait until you've hired the person and say, "Hey, you never said you were opposed to long hours."

Where do you see yourself five years from now? This is perhaps the dumbest interview question of all. Look back five years. Could you have imagined the things that have taken place? Did anything change for you after 9/11? Could 26,000 employees at Arthur Anderson have predicted losing their jobs over the Enron scandal? Fact is, many job candidates are not looking to make commitments longer than two or three years to you or any other employer. Save this question for when you are counseling existing employees in career development, and then only ask them to look out a year or two.

Why Do You Want to Work Here? "Because I need a job and you have an opening." What do you really expect applicants to say, that they are so awestruck by your press clippings that they can't imagine working anywhere else? Remember, part of your job as a recruiter is to sell candidates on your organization. Don't ask; tell them why they should want to work here.

Do you prefer working alone or in teams? This question makes sense if you are hiring a night watchperson who will be the only person in the facility from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. If a candidate indicates a preference for working in teams, odds are the applicant will find the guard job unfulfilling. Otherwise, what are you expecting to learn? After all, most jobs require teamwork coupled with the ability to work independently. Quit playing games already.

What's more important to you--the work or how much you're paid for doing it? In other words, we don't pay so well--is that a problem? A boss once asked which I preferred, a promotion to a higher title or a raise. I reminded him I was not his five-year-old child. Don't ask people to choose between multiple rewards. Candidates should expect both meaningful work and fair compensation.

Do you have any hobbies? Who has been the greatest influence in your life? What is the last book you read? Here's a tip for interviewers: When you're trying to kill time before sending the applicant back to HR, ask these types of stupid questions.

How would you evaluate your present employer? Do you have any gossip you can tell me? Will you share some of their trade secrets? What do their customers say about them? Will you sign a confidentiality agreement if we hire you? We sure don't want you going on an interview some day and spilling the beans about us. This unfair question places applicants in the uncomfortable position of badmouthing their employers. Hey, if things were great I wouldn't be looking for another job. Let's leave it at that.

Why should I hire you?
"Haven't you been listening? For the past hour and a half, I've told you everything about myself. You're not one of those managers who has trouble making decisions, are you?"

A future post will suggest interview questions to help you find the best employees for your organization.
Bookmark this post on del.icio.us

Vital Integrities Blog - Blogged