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3 outdated interview questions and 3 to try asking instead

3 outdated interview questions and 3 to try asking instead

Posted on May 2019 By Nicholas Farley

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Many recruiters and hiring managers have been asking candidates the same tired set of interview questions for decades. Interviews have become less about finding the best candidate for the role, and more about testing to see how a candidate can perform a series of rehearsed answers. 

Our friends at software company & intelligent hiring platform Vervoe have highlighted the below three questions as ones hiring manager & recruiters should avoid.

1. "Why should we hire you?"

As a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s your job to know what skills the position requires. This question asks the job seeker to justify why they are the right person for you – and that’s a problem. “You know the job inside and out, or you should if you are interviewing candidates for it – they don’t. It is up to you as the interviewer to ask real-life, practical questions about work that is performed in the role in order to assess the candidate’s suitability for the job,” says one recruitment expert.  

2. "What’s your greatest weakness?"

This question attempts to learn what an AI-powered skills test can uncover with just a few questions. Not every candidate (or employee) is good at everything – and that’s ok! No one is perfect. But all too often, candidates turn this question around and attempt to highlight a strength. This question will never elicit an authentic or honest response

3. "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

In asking this question, the recruiter seems to suggest what the candidate’s answer should be: with this company, of course. It forces the candidate to be disingenuous (or worse, dishonest). Everyone in the room knows a lot can change in five years, and a candidate may not stay with the company forever. However, answering anything less than 100% confidence you’ll be loyal to the job makes a candidate look like less of a team player.

Instead of the above, try these three go-to interview questions from Facebook, Accenture & Airbnb as highlighted by Samantha Mclaren on the LinkedIn Talent Blog.

1. “On your very best day at work, what did you do?” - Facebook

There’s no denying that Facebook is a talent magnet. To find the best of the best, Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook’s Global Head of Recruiting, says her team asks one question more than any other: "On your very best day at work—the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world—what did you do that day?"

First and foremost, this question reveals what a candidate genuinely loves to do. This helps Facebook find people whose interests align closely with the work they’d be doing every day. But it also shines a light on the aspects of a job where the candidate finds the most purpose and pride—whether that’s working closely with others, taking the lead on a project, or learning something new.

2. “How would you describe your personal brand and how would you bring this to life in this role?” - Accenture 

Global management consultancy firm Accenture wants its candidates to show a strong sense of self-awareness. That’s why Anne Constantinou, Recruitment Director for Accenture Australia and New Zealand, says her go-to question is designed to provide a moment of self-reflection. Anne asks: “How would you describe your personal brand and how would you bring this to life in this role?”

This is more effective than simply asking: “What are your greatest strengths?” That question is so well-known that candidates tend to have a rote answer prepared and ready to go.

3. "How would you go about doing that? - Airbnb 

Airbnb didn’t become the travel staple it is today without a little help. To identify the creative, inquisitive talent that helped the platform grow, Airbnb’s recruiters have historically relied on one key question. After suggesting an idea or feature that Airbnb might want to implement on its platform, the interviewer asks the candidate: “How would you go about doing that?”

Jonathan Golden, Airbnb’s former Director of Product, says that this question is designed to spot “builders, not maintainers.” Airbnb wants scrappy, driven individuals who will get things done. Domain knowledge is not as important—it’s the can-do mindset that matters most.

“If their response was that they’d ask someone else, then they were looking for answers from others,” Jonathan explains in an article for Medium. “If their response was that they would test, try, and iterate their way to making it happen, that was a clear sign that the candidate was used to taking action.”

Ultimately, the best interview questions are tailored closely to the specific values of your company and culture, and to the needs of the role. If you're looking to make a hire and need support in developing your interview process & relevant questions, get in touch with the team at Stopgap.  

*Photo from Jopwell