Interview Questions That May Do More Harm Than Good

Steve Lowisz
Interviews are naturally stressful. There’s no two ways about it.

However, the way you conduct an interview can add to or alleviate a candidate’s stress.

If a candidate is too stressed, they’re likely to give a worse interview performance. As a result, it may cause you to lose out on quality talent.

Furthermore, when a candidate feels at ease, you’re more likely to get a better impression of who they really are.

With that in mind, here are three interview questions to retire – and some better options to get the same information.

“Would you be willing to take a short test?”

There’s nothing wrong with asking a candidate to take a test. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise during the interview!

Let candidates know ahead of time that there will be a test and provide a simple description. This will dramatically reduce the candidate’s stress during an interview.

Additionally, you can let the candidate know when the test will occur. For example, give the candidate a rough schedule of whether the test will happen before the interview, after the interview, or between different interviews.

That way, the candidate is not full of nervous anticipation bracing for when you’ll put them to the test.

"Do You Know What We Do Here?"

It’s good to find out how much a candidate knows about your company. But the way this question is phrased is a little loaded.

It may give candidates the impression that you think they aren’t prepared, which can create an adversarial atmosphere or come across as condescending.

Instead, consider asking the candidate what made them want to apply, or what about their mission resonates with you?

This lets you get all the same information, but without putting the candidate on the defensive.

“What Would Your Last Boss Say About You?”

The problem with this question is that it’s very open to conjecture. For many candidates, they won’t know exactly what their last boss would say!

If the boss was a reference, they may be stressed about making sure whatever they say matches up with whatever you heard on the phone.

Some candidates will also have had a negative relationship with their last boss for unfair reasons. This also puts them in an uncomfortable situation.

Instead, you could ask about the best manager they ever had – and why they admired that person, or why they got along so well.

By focusing on the positives, you can learn about someone’s values, working style, and what’s important to them in the workplace. 

If you're a recruiter who's serious about advancing your career by making better hires, start our Recruiter Certification Program today!