MODERN EMPLOYER:
Helping you make sense
of the evolving HR landscape.

Don’t bother asking a job applicant this typical interview question. It’s weak.

Posted on: August 24th, 2017 | Category: Hiring Methodology, hiring process, Interviews, Our Blog

Recruiting and brandFiguring out what to ask a job candidate in an interview isn’t the easiest task in the world, which might be why some business owners and hiring managers rely on the typical questions.

The problem with too many of these standard-issue questions, however, is that you get standard issue answers—sound bites, if you will. Aside from showing that the candidate has practiced and prepared for the expected inquiry, the responses can offer little else to an employer seeking to find a truly exceptional person to fill a position in their organization.

We recently read an interesting post over at ideas.ted.com by TED Social Content Manager Julia Fawal. It outlined the difference between competency-focused and character-focused interview questions. Even though both types of questions are important, the article explained that most of the time, employers focus on competency more, and neglect to look in depth at other important attributes that can impact business, such as integrity, thoughtfulness and ability to hold their composure.

The article pointed out one question in particular that is often asked in interviews, but does not bring lot to the hiring-decision table. It may surprise you to see which one it is:

“What are your greatest weaknesses?” is a commonly asked character question, but it’s a bust. The interviewer often feels obliged to ask because the answer, if honest, could be valuable. But in reality, the usual responses — “I’m too detail-oriented,” “I work too hard” and “I care too much” — are rehearsed, predictable and disingenuous. And while candidates are aware that they’re not being helpful or truthful when they make such statements, they’re also afraid to reveal their true flaws.

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. When employers ask questions like this, they most often get responses that are little more than expected generalities, clichés and possibly a nice “humble brag” or two. Does this really give insight into how the candidate will fit into your workplace or contribute to your business? Probably not.

So what can you ask to find out more about character?

According to the Fawal, character questions should be an important part of the mix in a job interview. Some of her suggestions include:

  • Asking what traits from a candidate’s parents would they most want to ensure they have themselves. (GOAL: To open a conversation that leads to an unrehearsed responses and a sense of a candidate’s values)
  • “What is 25 times 25?” (GOAL: To see how people react under real-time pressure and how they’ll approach challenging or awkward situations—the math itself is irrelevant)
  • Ask about people whose lives positively changed thanks to the candidate. (GOAL: To find out if this person will be an employee who can help lift up fellow team members and if this person is someone inclined towards compassion and goodwill)

While questions that pertain specifically to competency are still important to the interview process, they should not be the only ones you ask candidates. Remember, the person you hire will be part of your workplace community and will be both affected by and have an influence on your company culture. Since the interview is a crucial step in finding the right person to join your team, don’t miss this chance to finding out more about their character while they are conversing with you.

Want to improve your hiring process to attract, attain and retain great talent? We can help!

Our team of educated, trained and skilled HR professionals can assist you in building your company’s hiring process, and we can perform all or some of those functions for you. Our Hiring Management Services include:

  • Developing a hiring strategy
  • Writing ads
  • Receiving and screening resumes
  • Creating and conducting phone interviews
  • Background and reference checks
  • Job fairs
  • And more!

We learn your culture, stay current on the latest methods, give you quantifiable results and customize our processes to meet your specific hiring needs. You pay us only for the time we actually spend working with you — not for each placement. Our goal is to assist you in putting solid structures in place that will help you grow your business, not just fill a bunch of seats. Ask us about this unique and effective service today!

Tell Me More!
Please fill out the form below or call 610.443.0119 to learn more about what our modern HR services can do for you. We’ll get back to you within one business day—most likely less!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

myHR Partner’s periodic publication, MODERN EMPLOYER, is created for business executives, owners and HR professionals who want to maximize their human resource functions using progressive hiring and HR strategies. It’s informative, fun and practical. Oh, and it’s FREE too!

You’ll discover:

  • Tips on hiring, screening, and interviewing
  • Creative ideas to help retain your best employees
  • Ways to put the “human” back in Human Resources
  • How to perform effective reference checks
  • New HR regulations and how they affect you and your employees
  • How small changes in certain processes can have big results
  • How to tell when partnering with an outside provider is in your best interest
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.