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Our Least Favorite Interview Questions

There was a question posted in the LinkedIn Q&A Staffing and Recruiting section that I’ve been wanting to comment on.  The question is:  What is your least favorite interview question to ask or answer?  The question gathered 54 answers, from both recruiters and job seekers.  I’m fascinated by the answers.  I find that both sides, recruiters and job seekers, are exhibiting discomfort, fear, anger and maybe even a lack of professionalism in what they say are bad interview questions.

In the 54 answers cited as “least favorites” are standard and useful interview questions.  These include:

  • Why are you looking for a change?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • Why do you want to leave your current organization?
  • What kind of a manager do you prefer?
  • How have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor?
  • What is your greatest failure?
  • What questions do you have for us?

I have said for many years that recruiters and hiring managers are often bad at interviewing, so a recruiter who might cite one of the above as a least favorite just doesn’t know how to ask better questions, and/or, doesn’t know how to assess an answer to one of these.  I’ve also said many times that job seekers need to be prepared to show value to the employer in every answer they give, no matter the question.  You can’t have a least favorite interview question when you are out looking for a job.  There is no room for fear, a chip on the shoulder, or any other form of putting obstacles in your own way.  The stakes are too high.  For the job seeker, if you are having a live interview, that has tremendous value.  You can’t afford to “cop an attitude” because you don’t like a question.  And, as long as  I’m being critical, for the interviewer, how can you be so sure this person won’t do a good job, unless you do your job first.   Interviewers need to prepare meaningful questions that really get at whether the candidate can do the job, not mess around with “cute” questions, like “If you were an animal, what kind would you be?” (another least favorite).

With all the technological advances in business, sometimes I think hiring is still in the stone age.  People, be prepared.  Ask good questions, give good answers.