Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Best and the Worst of the Interview Questons

Interviewing a candidate for a role at your company can be an exciting time, but it also can be a tough one. Everyone tries to figure out the best things to ask, the questions to avoid, the way to avoid the painful questions and the best way to pull out thought-provoking questions. So I've thought about it a lot and I wanted to go through some of the best and some of the worst of the interview questions I've received, heard, or read about:

"Why do you want to work here? (and, if applicable, why do you want to leave where you currently work?)" 

I love this one and the question too often gets overlooked or underasked. Too many candidates mass apply to jobs online and have no clue what the heck they're applying to most of the time. During the financial crisis, I interviewed a ton of candidates, who, when I asked them this question, answered for me why they want a job, but not why they wanted the job I was offering. Also, if the person is currently employed, finding out why they would take the leap to join you is really enlightening. Sometimes, if you give a candidate enough leash, they'll say too much during that second part and you'll realize that they're not a good fit.

"Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?"

I hate this one. Unless you're applying to a job in agriculture, what the heck is the point in phrasing it that way? This was among Glassdoor's Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions from 2014 as a question asked by Dell and I really do wonder what hunting and gathering Dell employees are doing. I do understand the point of the question, but there really has to be a better way to ask it.

"On a scale of 1-10, how lucky are you?"

I was asked this in my last job interview and I just saw it appeared, in a similar form, in the Glassdoor rankings as asked by Airbnb. I sort of like this one, though, I go back and forth on it. On one hand, I like that it pries a person to answer a bit honestly and outside of their resume, but on the other hand, my luck in my job life is not the same as my luck in my personal life and this can be really uncomfortable for some people.

"What's your greatest weakness"/"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

I hate both of these with a passion so I figured I'd lump them together. My greatest weakness is my inability to hide my disdain for your question and I see myself in 5 years hopefully answering much more important questions. NEXT

"I have a brainteaser for you..."

Once Google decides they're total wastes of time, as their Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, described to the New York Times in 2013, you should as well.

"This job requires you to multitask and balance a bunch of ASAP deadlines at once--can you tell me how you will go about prioritizing that if we hire you?"

One that I asked and asked and asked at a previous job. And I almost stopped asking it until the perfect candidate answered it correctly. Incorrect answers including saying that she would prioritize bigger (or higher revenue) clients over smaller ones, that they had no clue since they didn't work there, or that they would ask me every time (I gasped at that one). The best candidate told me that she would work with the team and the clients to make sure she understood exactly when everything actually needed to be returned--and that she would make sure to communicate with everyone involved as it was getting closer to the deadline. She got the job (and still works there).

"What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?"

I have to admit that I didn't love it when I first heard it in interviews but I warmed up to it and then I read in Inc. all the reasons why it's the best interview question and, while I don't think it's THE BEST, I have to agree, it's definitely one that you need to ask. The great part about this question, for me, is that I don't have an answer predetermined. I actually come up with a new one every time I interview, and try to adapt that answer to what would be most relateable to the job I'm applying for at the time.

"What would you like to tell me about you that is not on your resume?"

Since I told you which I thought wasn't THE BEST, I will now tell you my favorite. I got asked this in a job interview one time and I don't think I've left it out of any job interview that I've conducted since. I love it because the candidate can make what they want of it and can really get a chance to express themselves outside of a piece of paper.

It also shows a bit of how someone can think on think on their feet. One candidate told me that everything was on the resume that I needed to know (he didn't get an offer). One told me that there was a job missing because he really didn't like the boss and sued the company afterwards and didn't want me to call for a reference (he didn't get an offer). But one candidate told me that she was hesitant to put that she also volunteered to coach soccer on the side and would be a great addition if we had a company kickball team (she got an offer).

The key isn't to stump the candidate--it's to make them think, make them talk, and see how they answer questions. If you ask all generic questions, you can't be upset getting all generic answers. And if you ask stupid questions, you should not be surprised by stupid answers. The key to an interview is allowing a candidate to give you a view into their person--figure out the best question that you can ask to help them reveal that.

1 comment:

  1. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Interview Questions & Answers:

    Best rgs

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