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Need ideas for questions to ask in interviews? In the business world, interviewing potential candidates can be a little nerve-wracking. On top of trying to find the right candidate for the job, you also have to try to get to know that person in a very small timeframe. Whether you are struggling to know what to ask or you are looking to refresh your interview question template, here are our tips of questions to ask and avoid for interviews.

Candidate Motive Question

Avoid asking your candidate “why do you want to work here;” questions that start with “why” immediately put the respondent in a defensive position. Instead, ask the interviewee “what do you know about our company?” It is an altered question that will allow you to see what the candidate knows about your company without putting them in the position to have to spit out a rehearsed answer. Regardless of their answer, it will allow you the opportunity to correct any misunderstandings or to elaborate further on the company’s purpose. Plus, we all know the candidate wants to work because they need money. Unless it has been their dream job for years, the bottom line is that the candidate needs a job to make money.

Personality Question

The question “what do you do for fun?” is commonly asked by businesses, new acquaintances, family, and friends. This type of question will give you another rehearsed answer, whereas “what is a fact about you that is not on your resume?” will make the candidate think more carefully before answering. It will still ultimately tell you what the candidate is interested in outside of work without directly asking. This question also opens up the door for any possible answer – a unique trip they took, a contest they won, a charity project they help with, or anything else under the sun.

The Dreaded Pen Question

Thanks to The Wolf of Wall Street, everyone knows the cookie cutter answer to “how would you sell this pen to me?” Instead, try asking what the candidate thinks would make a successful business to customer relationship. Their answer will give insight into how they think about, approach, and maintain their customer relationships. Even if the position is not a sales or customer service position, this question will also tell you how the candidate values their working relationships in general.

Current Employer Question

Again, a question like “why are you leaving your current job?” implies that the candidate did something wrong. To get a more unique answer, ask “what could your current company do to be more successful?” and their response will shed light on why they are struggling in their job. It will also allow you to see what really matters to the candidate, and if their answer is something your company is currently struggling with, make a note to further explore how to remedy the issue. With the internet and all the technology people have at their fingertips, businesses are experiencing growing trends among employee needs and concerns. It is not uncommon for a candidate to express concern for an issue that your company is already struggling with.

The Work-Life Balance Question

If you know the available position often has to work late hours, don’t ask the candidate if they are okay with that because it is obviously nonnegotiable. Alternatively, ask what their expectations are for work-life balance to get a better understanding of what they need. Some people have circumstances in their personal life that prevent them from being able to work late while others set personal boundaries to avoid it at all costs. Asking this question also sets you up to clarify the company’s expectations for that position once the candidate has expressed what they expect. If your candidate is unwilling to work overtime, you don’t have to write them off immediately. Often times, the candidates that refuse to work late are better at prioritizing their day to complete tasks and ensure they can leave on time.

Interviewers Remember…

Regardless of what questions you ask a candidate, always remember that there are pros and cons to every possible answer. A candidate who is willing to work incredible amounts of overtime might also be more likely to burn out and quit soon after. A candidate who doesn’t like to talk to others and prefers to work alone might become your best communicator for team projects. The interesting fact they provide might tell you what their sense of humor is like or open a door to possible connections they have. If your candidate is answering these questions with some hesitation or “umms,” odds are you are getting a very real, genuine, and honest answer from them.

To summarize, here are the interview questions to ask and avoid.

Avoid these questions in Interviews:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • How would you sell this pen to me?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Are you okay with working late during the week?

Ask these questions in Interviews:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What is a fact about you that is not on your resume?
  • What do you think makes a successful business to customer relationship?
  • What could your current company do to be more successful?
  • What are your expectations for work-life balance?