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Interview Questions I HATE!

Stop Asking These Terrible Interview Questions!!

Want to hire a qualified team?

Use great interview questions to get good information in an interview and stop wasting each others' time.

Look, we've all had a bad interview in our lives. But terrible interview questions are way more common than they need to be.

I'm on a personal mission to eradicate BAD JOB INTERVIEWS from the face of the earth!! (seriously, I'm that nerdy....)

I want you to STOP asking these terrible interview questions, so I'm offering some alternatives in today's post and over on YouTube.

Here's a rundown of three questions I truly HATE, why they don't work, and what to use instead:

1. "So, tell me about yourself...."

This may be the most popular interview question of all time, but in my opinion, it should be on the chopping block first.

Why? It's way too vague and open-ended.

Please stop opening interviews with this question. At best, you will get a very strong communicator's elevator speech, but that will be extremely rare. You could get a person's sad life story. You could get a deer-in-headlights stare. You could get a 10-minute spiel on something that is utterly unrelated to your hiring needs.

Usually this question is employed to get a summary of a person's career. That's not a bad idea, and could really give you an insight into their story, their communication style, their motivators, and their strengths. But you should not ask in such general terms.

Try this instead:

"In about 3 minutes, can you give me the "Reader's Digest" version of your career story?"

Why this works better: With this question you have given your candidate a time limit (3 min), and asked specifically for a summary of their career. All of these directions are more precise parameters to help you get right to the important information in their career story.

I do not recommend using this question with entry-level candidates or new graduates. This is best used when you have a person with about 8-10 years or more of a career under their belt.

What to look for: listen for motivations in career or geographical moves, common threads despite career changes, and red flags like always blaming others for career problems.

2. Weird psychological questions.

This is more of a category of questions but you've probably heard or used them before in hopes that you can learn something in-depth about a job-seeker's personality. Questions like:

"If you were an animal, what would you be?"
"If you could be any type of cereal, what would you be, and why?"


Sometimes, conducting a job interview causes us to think that suddenly we need to become a clinical psychologist, delving into the depths of a personality with unusual questions that reveal their innermost being.

Just stop right there.

Unless you actually are a psychologist, don't try to impersonate one. You are most likely woefully unqualified to interpret answers to these types of questions anyway, resulting in precious interview time wasted in what is essentially a silly parlor game.

Try this instead:

"How would your coworkers [fellow students/boss/customers] describe you? Why do you think they would describe you that way?"

While this approach is still technically theoretical, it gets them thinking about how they come across to other important stakeholders in their current job, and allows opportunities for you to ask for examples of their work situations and challenges.

What to look for: their answers may reveal strengths, weaknesses, or blind spots that you can dig into with further questions. Also, if you use reference checks, go ahead and figure out if the answers match up.

3. "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

This is another often-asked, favorite interview question. But it can be scary to candidates, and I understand why. It seems like there are a lot of ways this could go wrong.

I want people to stop asking this question, and it's more than just a pet-peeve.

Today's worker is simply not planning or expecting to stay in a job for 5+ years. That's not exactly a value judgement against the workers at all: increased mobility, questionable global economics, and even just being good at what you're doing and getting recruited away are all reasons not to stay in job for decades like our dads did.

Try this instead:

"What skills do you think you have that will make you capable to take on this job on day one?"

The better discussion centers around what an employee could bring to the table NOW and whether that would make all of this effort and investment in hiring someone on worthwhile.

And if you want you can follow up with:

"What goals do you have, and how do you think this job will lead you to achieving those goals?"

What to look for: does this person's current skills line up with the job? Will they be able to hit the ground running, or take months to train? Do their long-term goals seem like a potential fit for your company in some way? Or are they just biding time until a completely different career comes along? Is that a problem, or are you ok with that?

I hope these tips help you implement better interviews right away, and hire an amazing team. Drop me an email and let me know how it's going at

Want even more help with hiring? Sign up to get my Guide to Interviewing Like a Boss, a free eBook with tons of ideas and interview questions to use now. Click here to sign up. I'll pop in your email inbox from time to time with other new ideas and updates on the blog and the How2Hire YouTube Channel.

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