5 Common Interview Questions That We Should Retire

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ThoughtMaybe they have been superseded by better alternatives, or maybe they serve no purpose, or maybe they have become so cliché that everyone knows the right answer, but whatever the case, some interview questions just need to be retired. Here are five of the most common questions we should get rid of:

1. “How Would You Deal With…”

Hypothetical questions that ask the candidate to guess how they might deal with a given scenario in the future are not the most reliable indicator’s of performance. They might not even reflect how the candidate actually behaves!

A far more reliable alternative is to use a behavioral question, such as “Can you describe a situation in which you successfully dealt with …” Past behavior is thought to be a much more reliable predictor of future behavior than asking candidates to hypothesize what they might do.

2. “How Many Golf Balls Can You Fit in an Airplane?” (and Other Such Brainteaser Questions)

While I have to admit to finding these kind of brainteaser questions fun, they really don’t serve much purpose in interviews. Google did some data analysis of these brainteaser questions and found that not only did they annoy most candidates, but also that the link between answering these kinds of questions and future job performance was questionable and inconsistent. As a result, Google stopped using these brainteaser questions, preferring to rely on behavioral questions like those mentioned above.

3. “What Are Your Greatest Strengths?”

It is probably fair to say that interviewers ask this question far too often  — it does sit at the top of Glassdoor’s list of the 50 most common interview questions, after all. This questions is probably pretty useless, too, as it does little but invite interviewees to make a lot of unsubstantiated claims about how good they are. It seems bizarre that interviewers would accept this kind of unsubstantiated evidence. This question makes it very easy for the candidate to lie, exaggerate, or just say something that sounds good. Interviewers would be better off asking a question like, “Can you describe a working situation you have been in that best demonstrates your personal strengths?”

4. “What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?”

This question suffers many of the same problems as “What are your strengths?”: it allows the interviewee to edit out any real weaknesses and share only their “good” weaknesses. Better to ditch this question and ask something like this instead: “Can you describe a challenging situation that exposed your weaknesses? How did you overcome those weaknesses? What steps have you taken since then to mitigate those weaknesses?”

5. “Where Do You See Yourself in Five (or 10) years?”

As the concept of a lifelong job grows increasingly outdated, thanks to all the volatility, uncertainty, and change in the modern economy, few people can realistically expect to have a clear vision of where they want to be in five years — let alone 10. This question’s parameter’s should be shortened drastically to a more pragmatic 2-3 years.

I’d love to hear about questions you are tired of hearing at interviews, or questions that you believe offer little to no value in the assessment process!

By Kazim Ladimeji