Think Twice Before Asking These Common Interview Questions

Categories: Advice for HR Professionals, Recruitment Advice, Trends and Learning


As HR professionals or recruitment consultants, you want to make the most out of the time you have with your candidates, but there are interview questions that hinder you from getting to know your applicants effectively.

Sometimes, the most common questions aren’t as effective as what you think. These questions may keep you from building a good rapport with the candidate. Keep in mind that candidates come from all sorts of backgrounds, so you should consider modifying your questions from time to time depending on what’s written on their resume and the flow of your interview session.

Here are some of the common questions you should think twice before asking in an interview.

1. “Tell me about yourself?”

This is probably one of the most traditional questions asked by interviewers. You might think that this is a good icebreaker, but it actually gives an impression that you haven’t read your candidate’s profile.

If you want to find out something new about your candidates, focus on a particular item in their resumes such as previous roles, an extra-curricular activity or goals achieved and let them expound on that.

2. “Why are you leaving your current job?”

While you aim to learn more about your candidates, asking them directly why they are leaving their current job might get too personal and lead to awkward silence.

Instead, ask what they enjoy the most in their current job, as well as their biggest challenge so far. Let your candidates expound their story by continuously nurturing the conversation with follow-up questions. This way, you’ll know the factors that lead them to look for other jobs. It’s also a good way to know if they fit your team’s work culture since you’re knowing how they work on the tasks they love doing.

3. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

If technology constantly changes, what more are human beings working in a corporate environment? Pursuing a career in digital marketing, for instance, wasn’t possible in the past few years. But today, a lot of individuals are shifting from traditional media to digital. A case like this makes this question vague.

To know your candidate’s future plans, ask a more specific question instead such as “how this job helps you achieve your long-term goals?” This way, you don’t put pressure on your candidates, and at the same time, you’ll learn about their work ethics to achieving long-term goals.

4. “What’s your biggest strength and weakness?”

A question like this won’t do you any good. Your candidate might have answered this question before. There’s also a possibility of you being biased if the answer isn’t exactly what you want to hear. Not to mention, this question doesn’t tell you much about your candidates. Remember, they could exaggerate their answer just to please you.

Instead of asking this, let your interviewees talk about how they struggled with a job and what they learned from it. Make them tell you a story that will help evaluate how they deal with problems.

5. “Why do you want to work for this company?”

Don’t be surprised to hear reasons such as “I need a new job,” “I want more money,” or “I hate my travel to work.” You’ll hear the same answers most of the time, and it won’t tell you much about the characteristics of a candidate.

A job seeker will exaggerate or practice an answer to get your attention, but it might also be awkward and personal for some. This can be considered a pointless question because there are other ways to tell if they want to work for you.

A question you can consider asking instead is “What were two things that made you apply for this position?” or “What are the two things you like best about our company and why?” These are great alternatives that can get a candidate to talk more about what they want from you.

6. “How much are you currently earning?”

Avoid asking this question in the first phase of your recruitment process because this might make your candidate uncomfortable. Your candidates want to be treated fairly and disclosing their current salary might mean that you will base their pay on that. It’s also possible for candidates to lie about it so that you’ll top their current one.

Once your prospective candidates proceeded to the second or third level of evaluation, you may already start with the salary negotiation. Align with the hiring manager the best possible salary for the post. Then, ask the candidates about their preferred range of income. In this way, you will be able to negotiate and compromise with the candidates about the pay they would best agree on. It’s also important to offer other benefits like monthly or weekly allowances, bonuses, and other privileges such as gym membership and medical grants.

Consider doing things differently the next time you conduct an interview. Not only will you learn more about your candidates, but you’ll also make them comfortable with the process and even connect with you on a more professional yet engaging level.