Are You Asking the Right Interview Questions?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On November 24, 2017

Most business leaders know the importance of hiring the right people if they want to take their companies to the next level. I’ve written before about how crucial it is to “get the right people on the bus” if you’re going to transform your business and experience significant and sustainable growth. There are times, however, when they way to interview potential candidates for key positions really doesn’t reveal what we need to know. Are you asking the right interview questions in your hiring process?

I recently came across an article by Oleg Vishnepolsky, Global CTO at Daily Mail Online and Metro.Co.Uk that highlighted some of the ridiculous questions we ask of candidates. Here’s a sampling (with appropriately snarky responses).

  • What are your weaknesses? I don’t react well to stupid questions.
  • Why are you leaving your current company? Well, I am not leaving, yet.
  • Why should we hire you? Would you like me to say something immodest?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? At a company that asks smart interview questions.

Vishnepolsky summarizes: “To hire smart people, we should stop asking stupid questions.”

Too often, the interview questions we ask seem to be “gotcha” questions. Or they are crafted to make us sound philosophical or clever. Sadly, they don’t make us look clever—and they don’t really get at what we want to know.

Before you (or your staff) interview candidates, think about what you really want to know. Then formulate questions that will get at that kind of information. What do you really want to know? You should be looking for a combination of skills and character. Ask questions that reveal what skills your candidate brings to the table—and that demonstrate how this person has used those skills in a business situation. Ask questions that help you understand how they interact with others. Ask about how they go about solving problems. Maybe even give them a real problem you’re facing and ask how they would approach it. Here’s another post that talks about how to hire the right people that gets at some of these key issues.

Remember the purpose of good interview questions. They are not designed to make you look clever or smart. They are not designed to reveal character flaws. They should be developed to show you if the person you’re considering hiring is a good fit for your company and culture and if they share the same kind of vision and values that will move your company forward.

Contact me if you’d like to talk in more detail about how to identify the right people for your business. Changing the way you ask hiring questions (and asking the right questions) is part of the transformation process that’s essential for scaling up your business so that you can take your company to new heights.