Why Dumb Interview Questions are Ruining Your Hiring Process

Interviews should be conducted with the intention of determining whether an applicant is a good fit for the culture of your organization and whether they possess the same values your organization requires.

Considering Millennials are the future of our workforce and a typical 9 to 5 job doesn’t motivate them to give their best work, it’s time to re-evaluate how interviews are conducted.

Last years’ Deloitte Millennial Survey discovered, six in 10 respondents said “sense of purpose” is part of the reason they chose their current employer. Adam Miller, contributor to Fortune.com noted in his article on hiring millennials, “….they define that purpose two-fold. The first is self-purpose; how do they fit into the organizational puzzle? How is their work relevant? Does anybody care?”

To get the most out of the interview process you’ll need to answer these questions for your applicants. Answering the concerns of millennials through questioning along these lines will help you to learn more about their true character, needs and motivations to stay engaged.

Put down the gloves!

When applicants feel attacked and have to defend their value, they will not share without second guessing themselves which means the responses they give may be what they think you need to hear vs. how they actually feel on a particular topic. Basically, you lose the genuineness in their responses to your questions when they do not feel comfortable in the environment.

The purpose of an interview should be to learn about a job-seekers character; to learn more of their personality and to see if it blends well with the culture of your organization. Job-seekers shouldn’t have to defend themselves when interviewing for your company.

It’s not all about you. 

Remember, interviewing is a two-way street. Just as much as you think applicants should have to prove their worthiness to you, you should be ready to prove the worthiness of your company to them.

Instead of thinking you’re doing job seekers a favor by interviewing them, try considering that both people in the room need answers to make a very important decision of pairing value with time. The interview is a preview to the culture within the organization. If an applicant feels negative energy in the room, it is likely the environment is negative within the workplace. And who wants to work somewhere they feel they will need to continuously prove their worth?

If you don’t attempt to learn what the needs are of potential candidates during your interview, how will you know if they are a good fit? Just as much as you expect them to prove their value to you, you must be willing to prove yours to them.

C’mon, seriously?

Questions such as “Why should we hire you over the other applicants?” or as featured on Glassdoor’s top 10 oddball interview questions: “If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?” (Asked at Dropbox) put a job-seeker in a panic and on defense, being afraid that the “wrong answer” can ruin their chances at being hired.

Look, chances are, if you’ve called an applicant based on what their resume shows, you’ve already gotten an answer to most of your questions and at bare minimum they meet most of your qualifications in terms of work experience or educational background. So instead of using an “industry standard” line of questioning, try letting them openly share with you why they applied to work for your organization then let the conversation naturally flow. Focus more on learning about the employee instead of marking boxes off your interview checklist.

You must ask yourself, what is the purpose of the questions you are asking? Is it just because it’s the most cliché thing to do or are you really serious about hiring good employees?

Try having a real conversation.

A decent interview is having a conversation, rather than an examination. When there is a positive atmosphere during the interview process, it makes the applicant want to work there. The same goes for a negative atmosphere. Both are telling of the culture within the organization.

A good applicant shouldn’t have to walk away from an interview feeling like they’ve just been interrogated. That doesn’t make them feel excited about working for you. It makes them afraid! With fear comes doubt and are you really getting the best of that employee if they begin with the mindset of always having to prove their value and worth to you? They will second-guess whatever they do instead of using their gut and intuition – the very essence of where great ideas come from and where great decisions are made.

Just for kicks and giggles, here’s a full list of Glassdoor’s top 10 oddball interview questions for 2015

1. Asked at Airbnb. “What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash?”

2. Asked at Squarespace. “What’s your favorite 90s jam?”

3. Asked at Dropbox. “If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them how would you choose which ones to answer?”

4. Asked at Stanford University. “Who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman?”

5. Asked at Aksia. “If you had a machine that produced $100 dollars for life what would you be willing to pay for it today?”

6. Asked at Banana Republic. “What did you have for breakfast?”

7. Asked at Spirit Airlines. “Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind.”

8. Asked at Bose. “If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?”

9. Asked at Redbox. “How many people flew out of Chicago last year?”

10. Asked at Cold Stone Creamery. “What’s your favorite Disney Princess?” am

P.S. Can we bring back 24? I miss Jack Bauer! 

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