June 19, 2017

Questions , Interviewers should avoid or rather stop asking.


Why interviewers are still stuck to those irrelevant, stupid, not-taking-us anywhere questions, despite the fact that they themselves are fed up of asking them again and again. There are so many articles written about this and so many discussions have already happened on so many panels, but still, we jump back to Stone Age and start asking the same good-for-nothing questions, mechanically almost. This needs to end, high time. I am sure we all have heard these questions, if not all, few of them, once in our life, and we all knew that they make no sense. They don’t facilitate the process of selection or rejection, they just help in wasting time.

Tell me something about yourself

Arrrgggggghh!!! This question has spread so much venom on its own, that candidates have literally started taking interview crash courses just to answer this one. It is such an irrelevant question that I salute the interviewer to have the audacity to still ask this and also the interviewee to have the courage and patience to answer this. What do I tell about myself? All that you want to hear or all that the coach has coached me on or all that I really am. The worst part is, the interviewer gets the sense of accomplishment after interviewee answers the same old rustic question with made up enthusiasm and clichéd’ vocabulary.  Please stop.

Why are you looking for a job change?

Because he/she can, and if they don’t look out for a job change, your positions will remain vacant so instead of asking that stupid question , please go ahead and ask relevant stuff to ensure he is the right candidate. Candidates look for a job change for many reasons and in some cases, no reasons at all, they just want to explore and that doesn’t prove if they are right or wrong. And as many times you heard the answer to that question, trust me, those were lies. So why waste time. Please stop.

Hypothetical Role Playing Questions?

Favorite questions of Hollywood inspired interviewers, asking questions like, ‘If you are a pilot on a plane, and you have the option of either crashing or water landing, what will you do and why? The interviewee shows the fake expression of amazement and appreciation to the wits of the interviewer and after a lot of thought, he answers, I will go for the Water landing. Bingo! This is what he wanted to listen, you know why? Because they both watched “Sully”. Please stop asking these, time eating questions, they don’t solve any purpose. Please stop.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

This is a question I was asked almost three times while I was hunting for a job and I had no clue that time, why was this even being asked. 5 years from now I see myself holidaying in Switzerland or may be flying an airplane or may be a mother of two or may be sitting at your place or may be dead, but how does that matter? How does the answer to this question helps an interviewer decide whether the candidate is fit for not, unless, you are hiring a fortune teller? Please stop.

Why should we hire you?

From all the questions you could ask that candidate, you end up asking this. It’s like the leader of the gang called, “good-for-nothing Qs”. Only you have the idea why you should hire him, if you believe so, and the candidate, well, he has given 4 other interviews too at the competitors’ and has answered the same question, same way with little alterations, so suit yourself, as no matter what he answers, you will make a fool of yourself. Please stop.

Please tell, what’s your biggest strength and biggest weakness?

This again takes the candidate back to the Interview coaching classes with a tagline “How to become successful”. He has scored 5/5 every time he answered this question in the test papers. Now he has some variants too with added quirk and wit as he asked the same question on Quora and got thousands of interesting ways to answer this. So bingo, this one will hit home, straight. Each one of the candidate thinks, we are smart enough to mention our weakness as one, which can be counted as our strength, and we outsmart the interviewer, and interviewer giving the candidate, “I am expecting a great answer” look on his face. He doesn’t even listen to you, just for your information. Please stop.

What is your dream?

Really? You really have the guts to ask that question while interviewing a candidate for a real job. He has a dream of owning a chain of hotels and he is giving an interview for Java Developer, how will it affect your decision. He might have a dream to act in a Bollywood movie and he is sitting there, giving an interview for Accountant, will it help? Please stop.

When are you planning to start a family?

Addressed to women especially, though I know few men also, who were asked these questions. This question stems out of the judgment towards the candidate that he/she is inefficient or will become nonproductive, the moment an extra responsibility crops up. This question clearly indicates the closed mindedness of the interviewer as well as the organization. So, if you are still asking this question with a preconceived notion in your mind, you need to do your job better.  Please stop.

Asking questions from Resume?

To ask questions like, “Ok, so you have dome graduation from XYZ University, right? Your first company was ABC, right? What are these, fillers? Advertisements? Entertainment between the shows. Asking questions straight from the resume, of course you know the answer as it’s written on the resume. Why would the candidate write something else on the resume and tell something else? Why asking what you already know? Please stop.

What are your hobbies?

Ask something else, to lighten up the conversation, please. These are the questions now asked to fifth graders while they appear for middle school interviews. They should be telling their hobbies. Discuss events, trips, projects etc. Because I am sure, there is no interviewer who rejected a candidate because his hobby was swimming and not reading. Get over these silly ice breakers. And ask real questions and strike real conversations.

Please get this, interviewers and interviewees are on same table with equal importance and one need to respect the other, no matter what. Treat the interviewee like an equal not because you are humble but because he is equal. Instead of making it a “Let me judge you” interview session, have a conversation, learn something, teach something and understand how this person can add value to your organization and how can your organization benefit his career? So, just now, quit asking these.


  1. Hey that’s a great list. But what apart from these questions can be asked? aren’t we supposed to ask these questions directly or indirectly to know his willingness?

    Can you tell me about another set of questions that can make the interview more lively for all the parties involved?

    Comment by Suchitra — July 3, 2017 @ 3:56 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment Suchitra. Will soon share a list/method of conducting better interviews. An interviewer is supposed to view the fitment of candidate by keeping him engaged, these questions are predictable and candidates mostly come up with prepared answers for these, interviews end up being boring and disengaging because of such questions, even my father answered these questions swhen he gave interviews almost 3 decades back. As interviewers we all must think beyond asking montonous predictable questions and go for for interesting ways/methods to screen the candidates better. This calls for innovaton and little bit of homework before conducting any interview. Thanks

    Comment by Shalini — July 6, 2017 @ 11:45 am

  3. Hey, Shalini,

    Thanks for the article. I just wanted to share other perspective on two of the questions and why I thing these are important.
    1) Strengths and Weaknesses – I believe this is a good question for one reason – it shows whether you know and evaluate yourself or not. Of course, cliché answers like “I have good organizational and time management skills” are simply lies (there I dig deeper). But I believe that is also the place where you can understand if that person is honest to you or not. For me it is very important to know what I am good at and what I am not. And a good recruiter can always distinguish honest and fake answers.

    2) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? – Well, not asked exactly this was. I believe that most of the people want to grow within an organization and for me it is important to know what career path this person wants to develop. Is my company able to meet these expectations? If no – I would prefer to tell the candidate that and discuss what we have to offer.
    Also, answering this question shows me that this person thinks of his future and know where and what he strives for.

    You can ask these in many different ways without using the cliché phrases, but I believe recruiters should not completely exclude the questions from their list.

    Comment by Violina Petrova — July 25, 2017 @ 8:23 pm

  4. Hi Violina, Thanks for sharing your views. The basic idea of writing this article was just to probe and encourage the interviewers to work a little extra and smartly on the interview methodologies. We all have been asking these questions for so long. There are tutorials on the internet on how to answer these questions. There is no originality left anymore in asking these questions because the answers you will receive are also rehearsed. these questions are not irrelevant because of their subject but because they have been around too much and they no more add any value to the interview outcome. These questions never engage the candidate but only make him repeat the same thing again and again which he has been saying in all the other interviews. This just makes the process boring.That’s my opinion. Thanks for your views again. Please keep reading and keep commenting. You can also follow me on twitter @Shaliniharnot.

    Comment by Shalini — July 26, 2017 @ 3:42 pm

  5. Hello!! That was good to read the list of some irrelevant questions but can you tell some which are relevant to ask for interviewers. Also please can you suggests how to face such questions by candidate giving an interview.

    Comment by Shweta — July 26, 2017 @ 10:16 am

  6. Hi Shweta, Thanks for reading.
    To give a fresh list of questions to be asked will again make a new list to be repeated hundred of times in every interview, so the most important thing to ask the right questions is to understand the purpose of taking an Interview in an engaging way. Interviews are boring when they are scripted and predictable. They don’t help you in any way to make a better choice. the candidate is just repeating the same answers he has crammed in other interviews over hundred of times or read over the internet. So whats the point?
    The only suggestion I’ll give is to “not cram” or “rehearse” the answers. Let the interviewer hire you for what you really are. Not what you pretend to be. Then only you’ll be happy with that job. That’s what we call job match making.
    Thanks for your views, please keep reading and commenting. You can also follow me on Twitter @shaliniharnot

    Comment by Shalini — July 26, 2017 @ 3:48 pm

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