The most boring interview questions

Recruiting a crack candidate is a tough process, and for many of you the interview stage can be as nerve-wracking as it is for the jobseeker. Worry not, however. If you are a recruiter who finds interviewing and assessing the ability of candidates challenging, we have an excellent solution. Simply make it easy for yourself by sneaking in so many boring questions that the conversation grinds to a halt or – even better – you send your interviewee to sleep. Hurrah! Here are six of our top, tedious interview questions guaranteed to take the hiring process … precisely nowhere…

 

1.         Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Boring, boring, boring. Let’s face it, this tired old favourite inspires far too many candidates to trot out the same old phrases. You may think that you are asking a knife-hot question that flushes out your candidate’s true talents and aspirations. The reality, however, is that most people are going to tell you what you want to hear. It’s one of the staple questions that everybody will have prepared for with a glib: “I’d like to be running my own company”, “by then I expect to be in a supervisor’s role”, or “I see myself doing my boss’s job”. Sit back and let your eyes glaze over…

 

2.         What is your greatest weakness?

Come on, nobody is going to give you chapter and verse on how they are argumentative, lazy or untrustworthy with money. Anybody worth their salt will have checked out a few interview advice job sites such as totaljobs.com and worked out that they should say their worst fault is being “too attentive to detail” or “obsessive about hitting sales targets”… yeah, yeah …yawn…

 

3.         Tell me about yourself

Woah! If your candidate is egocentric this could go on for hours. If they’re modest, it is impossible to draw them out about their real talents so it’s pointless. There are stories of recruiters being forced to sit through tearful, emotional accounts of painful divorces and ill parents, while others tell glorious tales of their accomplishments in charity work, the local football team… you get the picture. It’s an open question that could go in almost any direction, leaving you wild-eyed and desperate to get out of the room.

 

4.         If you were a food, what sort of food would you be?

Hopefully, very few of you have reason to ask this sort of question. Frankly, all those whacky “if you were an animal what would you be?” and “how many doughnuts do you think you can get into a mini?” interview questions are unlikely to give you an accurate insight into your candidate’s ability to do the job. Not only that, do you really want to know that they see themselves as a sherbet fountain or a playful python? We don’t think so. At best their answer may lead you to think they are a bit weird; at worst, your question might give them cause to think that you are.

 

5.         If you weren’t in this field of work, what would you be doing?

Who knows and who cares? Any question that tries to be too clever is usually dull. Do you really want to interview someone for a number-crunching role back of house and have to sit through them lamenting the fact they really wanted to be an elephant trainer or marine biologist? Worse still, they are more likely to bluff their way through the answer by claiming they’ve always wanted to be a number-cruncher back of house and nothing could sway them from that purpose. Let’s face it, this is the sort of question that doesn’t always get an honest answer and to a certain extent it’s irrelevant what they would be doing if they weren’t in that field of work. Everyone has to make a living somehow…

 

6.         How could you have improved your career progress to date?

Hmmm… Hindsight is a wonderful thing and doesn’t prove much. You may have to sit through 10 minutes of soul-searching and angst while the interviewee regales you with opportunities lost or missed, bosses misplaced, bad luck or planetary misalignment. Alternatively, if they feel their career progress has been textbook perfect, you look a tad confrontational.

Either way, it’s a bit of a dead-end question as it implies that the job you are interviewing them for is not up to scratch. In a nutshell, it’s a negative, uninspiring train of enquiry that will almost certainly put the dampeners on the whole interview.

2 Comments

  1. Jason Meininger March 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    A long-time fave was similar to the food question, but actually proved very useful – “if you were a character from Star Wars, which would you be and why?”

    Didn’t really matter what the answer was, it encouraged creative thinking and if the person didn’t know any characters, well, that said a lot about how well they’d fit in. *grin*

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