What Not to Ask Candidates during a Job Interview

April 8, 2019
It's important to prepare a job interview well to assess the candidates as effectively as possible. In this article, discover what no to ask candidates.

While you’re preparing a job interview, you need to consider the questions you’re going to ask the candidates. Since you should focus only on what you need and want to know, in this article, we share some questions you shouldn’t ask candidates during an interview to get the most out of it.

Most people consider interviews one of the best ways to predict whether a person will be good for a job or not. Thus, you should come up with questions that give you the most information in the least amount of time. 

In this article, we’ll share some examples of questions not to ask during a job interview. Avoiding these kinds of questions can help you get the most information from the candidates. Keep reading!

What not to ask candidates during a job interview

1. What do you know about us?

This is a common way to start an interview and break the ice. It’s also a great example of what not to ask. In the end, it doesn’t make sense for you to rule out a candidate just because they haven’t researched your company. 

Besides, most people will answer something along the lines of “Although I’ve researched a bit, I don’t know a lot.” They do this to try to make themselves look good without the risk of talking too much about a company they don’t have an insider’s knowledge of.

A person interviewing a woman for a job.

2. What would your ideal boss be like?

This is a pointless question. No one is going to say they want an authoritarian or incompetent boss. The only answer you’ll get is something along the lines of “An empathetic boss who cares about their employees, values them, and is demanding in a reasonable way.”

Obviously, any employee is going to want their boss to be a good leader.

3. What would your old coworkers say about you?

The problem with this question is that candidates probably prepared the answer beforehand, which means they’ll just tell you what you want to hear. They’ll probably say their old coworkers believe they are a team player, responsible, and punctual.

4. Why did you leave your last job?

All candidates know that telling you they were fired would decrease their chances of getting the job. Thus, if that’s what happened, they’ll just try to cover it up.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t immediately rule out a candidate if they were fired from their last job, as there are many possible reasons why it happened.

5. Personal questions

You should never ask personal questions, as it’s inappropriate and, in some cases, even illegal. Trying to get personal information is uncomfortable and creates tension because no one wants to be judged for their religious or political beliefs or for their sexual orientation.

6. Why do you want to work for us?

Most candidates prepare the answer to this question beforehand. Thus, they’ll say something along the lines of “I love the work you do and I think I’d be a great fit for this company” and also list some positive qualities. You won’t get any real information about the candidate and what skills they have from this question.

Although some of the candidates really do want to work at your company, the problem is that it can be really hard to tell if they’re being honest. Thus, you can ask some extra questions to dig a little deeper.

Two people shaking hands during an interview while another person is using a tablet.

7. What are your main weaknesses?

You can see a clear pattern here: you should avoid asking questions that candidates probably prepared answers to. This last question is a great example, as they’ll probably respond “being too much of a perfectionist” or “being too hard-working”. This question just gives them the opportunity to build themselves up in a more subtle way.