There seems to be some common, standard interview questions that always get asked during interviews – ones that seem to be popular but aren’t always effective. “What’s your greatest weakness?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Why should I hire you?” These questions might provide a little bit of insight, but they’re not great indicators of future behaviour – nor do they help to identify whether a candidate has the right personality for the job.
In many cases, asking a candidate about their weaknesses is not really a question about their weaknesses – according to The Interview Guys, it's a way for potential employers to see how self-aware their candidates are. And asking candidates about their plans for the future is really just a roundabout way of seeing if they’re planning on sticking around for long. But these are boilerplate questions that were probably invented around the same time as the interview itself. Candidates know how to answer them in a way that makes the interviewer happy, so the value that can be gleaned from them is relatively minimal.
There are better ways to find the answers you’re looking for, while also getting insight into the kind of value that a candidate could bring to your organization. Discussing a candidate’s successes - instead of where they’ve previously failed - fosters a sense of contribution to your organization, and you’re more likely to hear success stories that correlate closely to the position you’re interviewing for.
“What can I tell you about our company and this position?” “If you envision yourself in this role, what do you see could be your biggest challenge(s) at the beginning? What approach would you take at the start of this role to tackle these challenges?” “How does this role align with your career plans?” “What work experiences do you feel will support you in this role based on your understanding of the outline?”
These questions provide valuable insight into a candidate’s knowledge and awareness about your organization, and how prepared they are for the interview. It also offers up scenarios to visualize how the candidate would work in the role, and how thoroughly the candidate considered the requirements outlined in the job description and job profile. The more they can articulate that they truly understand the role, beyond just the basic day-to-day tasks, the clearer it is to see how they’ll handle the position. These kinds of questions also allow candidates to display how they solve problems, come up with solutions, and provide information in a clear and timely manner. With questions like these, it's also easy to use the SARR method to clarify answers and get more details.
When you run your next interview, try avoiding some of the clichéd questions. Instead, use a few questions that really validate the candidate’s ability to fulfill the role and become a valuable addition to your organization. If you’re stuck on ideas, the right personality assessments include interview questions that you can ask. Verify if your candidates’ strengths fit what the position requires, and if their personality aligns with the temperamental requirements of the job. This approach avoids focusing too much on the negatives, and it also helps to avoid canned responses. But most importantly, it gets more value out of your interviews, and provides a more comprehensive view of your candidates.