Posts Tagged ‘interview questions’

Is It Time to Ditch the Ridiculous Interview Questions?

July 25th, 2014

bad interview questionsIt’s natural for human resources professionals to want to go beyond asking such boring questions as, “What is your biggest weakness/strength?” when interviewing candidates. In the scramble to discover the best person for the job, many prominent firms have made it a practice to ask fairly ridiculous questions to avoid getting a programmed response.

A strategy of asking silly questions may seem to make sense on paper. After all, a job interview is not an ideal place for job seekers to present their true selves. Strange, out-of-the-blue interview questions are supposedly designed to catch candidates off-guard because not only will they not likely have prepared to answer them ahead of time, you get to see how their minds work when confronted with unusual situations.

For example, Google would rely on brainteasers, asking potential recruits questions such as “How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane?” Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations, said that such questions only serve to waste time and don’t predict anything, noted a recent article at Business Insider. Google switched to asking behavioral questions along the lines of how candidates solved tough problems at their previous job to improve their hiring process.

It seems like there is no shortage to weird questions asked by HR interviewers at a variety of firms. Consider “If you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put into a blender, how would you get out” (said to be asked at Goldman Sachs, according to a recent Fortune article) or “How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings” (attributed to Deloitte Consulting).

While these questions could force a candidate to “think outside the box” and come up with a unique or creative solution, they typically have little or nothing to do with the actual work the employee would wind up doing. In fact, Bock says these kinds of ridiculous job interview questions serve more to make the interviewer feel intelligent than to get a useful response.

Kristi Hedges offered some useful interview questions in a recent Forbes article that you might want to adapt for your own organization. Ask candidates to tell you about your company and provide high-level analysis. Have an interviewee walk you through the first five things he or she would do upon being hired. It’s also useful to ask a question along the lines of what was the candidate’s proudest moment at the previous job.

If you have been relying on ridiculous interview questions to no avail and are hoping to get more out of the time you spend with job candidates, you will want to come up with sets of questions that will better address the needs of your organization. It may take you a while and some trial and error before you settle on a better mix of questions, but in the long run, you stand to get much better responses and a more capable workforce.