Why Even Ask? 4 Interview Questions You Should Retire

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It’s easy and convenient to continue asking job candidates interview questions you’ve used in the past.

But some interview questions, just like hairstyles and diets, may have been better suited to earlier times. [ Tweet this!]

Consider, are some of your “tried and true” questions actually no longer useful?

Are you starting to hear the same answers from multiple candidates, or find the answers aren’t helpful to you in separating the best from the rest?

If so, you might consider a few alternatives that we’ll cover below.

But first, are you asking any of these:

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

This may have been a revealing question when it was new, but by this time, every candidate has heard this one before and probably has a stock answer memorized.

You’ll probably learn nothing from the answer because you’ll likely be hearing something some “authority” came up with years ago.

Besides, what would be a good answer?

What response would either recommend the candidate or negatively impact your hiring decision?

2. What’s your greatest weakness?

It’s unlikely you’ll find a candidate who hasn’t anticipated being asked this question, and doesn’t have an answer prepared.

The odds are that what he or she tells you – just like with the “where do you see yourself in five years” question – will be rehearsed and unoriginal.

The only thing you’ll learn by asking this question is how well the candidate can recite lines.

Even if candid and honest, the answer may not reveal much about the candidate.

It’s doubtful you’ll hear anything truly negative, such as “I spend too much time at work on Facebook” or “I’m lazy.”

So consider retiring it.


3. Why should we hire you?

“I’m a hard worker.” “I’m a good fit for the position.” “I’ve got what it takes.”

You may hear some original answers with this, but again, what are you going to learn that you won’t have already gotten from questions regarding their previous employment or aptitude for the position offered?

It’s vague and not as probing a question as you may think.

Perhaps there are better ways to pose this question and get a useful answer, as you’ll find below.


4. Tell me about yourself

This frequently-asked question invites a response that may wind up consuming more time than you anticipated.

What you hear may have nothing at all to do with qualifications for the job.

If you want to ask it, consider beforehand what answer(s) would impress you.

Are you looking for someone who will discuss his or her hobbies or focus on career-related information?

Since it’s such a commonly-used question with myriad canned responses readily available, know in advance what a good answer would be for your unique opening.


Design Your Own Interview Questions

OK, now that you’re considering retiring these questions, consider designing your own original questions that are pertinent to the job and your company. [ Tweet this!]

For example, rather than ask about weaknesses, it may be far more revealing and practical to ask what specific strengths the candidate possesses and how the position could make best use of them.

This will also reveal how much homework they’ve done to learn about the position and why they see themselves as the perfect candidate.

Are there things on the resume that are germane to the position offered and pique your interest?

Ask for more details, let the candidate embellish and flesh out the bullet points.

Ask questions they can’t have anticipated or copied from someone else.

What’s the last book/movie/play they enjoyed and what about it sparked their enthusiasm?

What did they learn from it?

Although it may have little to do with the actual job, such a question may reveal more about their interests and while requiring them to come up with an answer on their feet.

Do they play a sport and what position, if any, do they prefer?

As oblique as this question may appear, it could tell you if they are comfortable being a leader – do they like playing pitcher or quarterback – or are they OK playing a supporting position and letting others take the lead?

Ask about what they know about your company and what about it appeals to them.

Find out if they’ve done their homework, are perhaps more ambitious than other candidates, and are sincerely interested in this job and this company as opposed to just any job.



As much as possible, give thought to your interview and the candidate.

Come up with your own questions rather than fall back on standard interview questions.

You’ve done the first part of the interview process by reviewing their background and potential applicability for the job.

But just as you’d expect the candidate to have done some research on your company, the position, and maybe even you, do him or her the favor of asking your own questions which draw the candidate out, require a demonstration of how well and how quickly he or she can come up with a great answer, and if you’re talking with the best candidate for your particular company, department and job.

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Lewis Lustman

Lewis Lustman is a content marketer who enjoys developing materials that engage, inform, challenge, and hopefully entertain my audience. Lewis is a former journalist for Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, and has worked for a number of leading advertising, marketing, technology, and PR firms over the years. Interested in a topic that he hasn't yet tackled? Drop him a line in the comments section!

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