Recruitment and HR Blog

Top 5 Questions to NOT ask a potential employee

Matt Heighway - Wednesday, May 02, 2018

 

Given that the interview is still the primary selection tool used by employers, when you step back and think about it, you are making some fairly substantial decisions about the future of your business and your team based on a meeting which typically lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

That being the case, it’s imperative that you maximise the interview time by remembering the fundamental goal of an interview. The interview is your one chance to get to get to know the applicant, and assess whether they are going to fit in to your team and culture, and whether they can complete the job you are hiring for. The best way to do this is to ask relevant questions which are likely to elicit responses which give you a realistic and honest impression of the applicant, and ultimately give you the most detailed possible understanding for their suitability for your culture and the position you are recruiting for.

In my opinion, many employers spend way too much interview time on questions which hold little if any value to the goal at hand – finding out about the applicant and their suitability.

Here is my list of the top 5 time waster questions that you should leave out of your next interview:

1)Tell me a bit about yourself – an interview is not a date, and this question usually ends in one of three ways. The first is a well-rehearsed and often not very accurate ‘elevator pitch’ designed to dazzle you with their brilliance. The second is a complete life story background which whilst interesting, usually tells you very little about their suitability for the role. The third is a shocked response by a nervous applicant which typically ends up with them talking for the sake of talking, unsure what information to give away or not, and again you are left with very little of any true reflection about the person, their fit for your business or their ability to do the job at hand

2)Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years – the answer is who knows and who cares! You don’t know where your business will be in 5-10 years so why would you expect an applicant to have a clearer picture of their career. And the reality is they probably won’t be with you then, and that’s ok.

3)What are your weaknesses? If you think anyone is truly honest in answering this question you are mistaken. They will usually come up with some trait which they can ‘sell’ to you as a weakness, which of course you will see as a strength. Some of the most commonly used are ‘I am a perfectionist, I like to do things right all the time’, ‘I find it hard to say no if someone needs my help’, ‘I really like to be challenged’

4)Can you use MYOB? (or insert name of any system). It’s a waste of time because they will say yes and try and figure it out later. Almost any closed ended question like this hold very little value to helping you achieve the goal of the interview

5)Why do you want to work for us? Whilst the answer will almost certainly give you a little confidence boost and that feel good feeling about your business, this again is loaded towards a fake and dishonest answer. There may be some authentic answers in the mix with this type of question, but ultimately this prompts the applicant to compliment the business and try and ‘sell’ their love for a company they probably at this stage know very little about.

My advice – ditch the time wasting questions and focus on asking questions which are more relevant, better thought through and designed to elicit honest, authentic and realistic answers to topics which are relevant to team fit and job relevant skills and experience.

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