Stop Giving Away the Answers to Your Interview Questions

By: Ron Bower

Are you asking interview questions that can be answered with a yes or no answer? Then stop it!

Unless you are asking a candidate if they would like a bottle of water, you shouldn’t be asking any questions during an interview that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Are you providing a lead-in story to your interview question that gives away the punch line? Then stop it! I guarantee that candidates will never give you a wrong answer. Ever.

“Do you know how to use Excel?” Dumb question. There’s only one right answer.

“Do you take accountability for your work?” Also, dumb. One right answer.

“We here at Joe’s Manufacturing Solutions have a very strong team-oriented culture. Do you prefer to work as part of a team, or do you prefer to work by yourself?” Dumb. One right answer.

You get the idea!

When you need to clarify a candidate’s level of spreadsheet skills, then ask them to describe how they have used a pivot table to solve a business problem or tell you about the most complex spreadsheet they have ever developed. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Ask a candidate to tell you about a time that they took accountability for a mistake they made at work. Follow up with questions like, What happened? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Now you are going to get some real insight into who they really are.

Feel free to set the expectation for a candidate about your team-oriented workplace. That’s a great way to validate an important aspect of your culture. Just follow up with a question that feels more like, “tell me about the most memorable team experience you have ever had at work?” Nice wide-open question. Not forcing them to provide you with a positive or negative experience. Not letting them off the hook with a simple yes or no. You will make your candidate think. You will enable them to provide you with an example of a real-life situation. You will get a much clearer picture of whether they are going to be successful in your culture. Or not.

Admittedly, questions like these take a great deal of time to develop. If you would like access to an amazing database of meaningful, thought-provoking, and legal questions, then check out this solution to create your next interview guide.

Ask better questions. Make better hires. And stop leading the witness!