Why Shouldn’t I Hire You? Asking Trick Questions During Interviews
Employers often ask me about the kinds of questions they should use to narrow down the final contenders for a position. Lately, possibly due to a weak job market and inflated confidence on the part of hiring managers, a similar topic has come up several times. The conversation usually happens like this:
Hiring Manager: My interview questions are too standard and predictable.
Me: How so?
Hiring Manager: I’d like to change things up a little. I want to put candidates to the test. Ask them something unexpected to see if they have a sense of humor. And, you know, see how they react.
My answer to this proposition is almost always the same. Please don’t. The temptation may be strong to ask quirky interview questions to catch applicants off guard and trip them up. But before you decide to take this path, consider the following:
First, standard interview questions are standard for a reason. No matter what else you chat about, there are a few pieces of information that are an essential part of the process and productive interviews rarely happen without them. By the time your meeting ends, you need to know what a candidate has done in the past, what her long term goals are, and how her skills match up to the requirements of the job at hand. Usually, it takes at least 15 to 30 minutes to establish these details.
Second, remember that an interview is a two-way process. Intentionally quirky questions can easily be mistaken for baiting, demeaning, or expecting a candidate to grovel. And any of these moves can alienate talented applicants and allow them to slip away. Keep your interview process professional and skip any questions that might corner or insult an applicant. Applying for a position with your company demonstrates respect. Respect your candidates in return and use the interview to start building a potentially valuable relationship.