6 New Interviewing Questions: Out with the Old, In With the New

As times change, so do the needs of a company. Ordinarily, the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process stays relatively the same with time. However, with the job market becoming more competitive with skilled professionals around every corner, and businesses looking to hire the best for the money, they are ensuring they cover all their bases and asking the right questions during the interview.

Many employment experts and H.R. professionals recommend getting rid of the old cliché questions that used to be the basis of every interview. By doing this, companies get a better picture of what each candidate truly represents and their abilities. Below you will find some interviewing questions that Alternativepowercareers.com believes could improve your interviewing process.

1. OLD: “Tell me about yourself.” The problem with this question is that it is very vague. It’s not that unusually for some candidates to share some very private experiences- it happens more than you would think. There is a possibility that you’ll hear something of value, but more times than not, it makes the candidate uncomfortable not sure what you’re looking for exactly.

NEW: Refine your question to pin-point a specific notation from either their resume or cover letter. (“You mentioned an internship with Global Industries. Can you tell me more about that experience?” or “I see you were a participant in a project that generated more than $1,000,000 in revenues. What responsibilities did you have in bringing it to fruition?”)

2. OLD: “Tell me your biggest strength/weakness?” This question leaves the candidate open to tell you how they perceive themselves. They may not be intentionally fabricating details to make themselves sound good, but that usually is the end result. Often times, candidates don’t even realize their true potential and focus on areas where they are comfortable with talking about. You may be familiar with hearing, “I’m too much of a perfectionist”, or “I’m sometimes too ambitious for my own good.” as answers for a person’s weaknesses. No one wishes to paint themselves in a poor light- even if it is in an interview.

NEW: Again, ask for details about a specific work experience where their strengths were present or a situation where they inevitably learned something due to a skill weakness. Be sure to inform the candidate that weaknesses are not looked upon as deficits, but rather as possible opportunities to improve their skills.

3. OLD: “If I were to ask your boss to describe you in five words, what would he say?” You’re never going to find a candidate who will say their old boss would describe them as lazy, unorganized, unable to meet deadlines, and unmotivated. It just doesn’t happen- they will not paint themselves in a poor light. This questions proves to be useless with the interviewer learning nothing about the candidate.

NEW: “If I asked you to describe yourself going into your last job, what would you say? How would that description be different now?” This question is a better representation of their growth in their last job.

4. OLD: “Tell me about an experience in your last job where you had many obstacles to overcome, or have seen a project to it’s conclusion?” First off, if the person is truly a candidate with experience, they have seen many projects to success, and have experienced endless challenges. It’s too vague and will often times have candidates giving the internal eye roll.

NEW: Choose one of the candidates accomplishments found on their resume and use this as the basis for your question. “What are you most proud of from this experience and why?” “What would you do the same/differently if you were to participate in a project like this again?” These types of questions allow the candidate to talk in-depth about their accomplishments and experiences in a positive way.

5. OLD: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” If the candidate is like the rest of us, they don’t know what they’re doing for dinner let alone next week. This type of questioning doesn’t reveal a candidates true desires for the future.

NEW: “What are some things you wish to accomplish with this a new position?” or “How do you picture this position being different form your last?” It’s better to know where the candidate’s head is now, while trying to learn what they hope to achieve.

6. OLD: “Why should we hire you?” This question is quickly becoming obsolete. With the plethora of skilled professionals out there, many of them can pick and choose where they want to work. It’s the company’s job to draw them in and make them sign on. Even in our tough job market, the professional with experience and skill is the one with the upper hand.

NEW: This is the best opportunity to tell the candidate about the company and all it has to offer. Impress them with the many benefits, perks, flexible scheduling, dress code, and such. Then you can ask them what interested them most about your company or their ideal work environment.