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14 Questions for Interviews – From The Essential To The Eccentric

3 months ago - Mark Ashton

Having worked for a long time in UK Technology recruitment sector, I’ve come across a fair few stories in my time.  I thought I would put together a lighthearted list of some of the best and worst interview questions that I have heard about, from both HR managers and candidates.

Why Interview Questions Matter So Much

Maybe you have been asked to use a standardised interview template before and haven’t always agreed with the questions, perhaps you were new to a role and finding your feet.  Or, maybe you were a candidate on the receiving end of a great interview.  The interview process is as much for the prospective employer as it is for the potential employee.  A two-way process that can make or break a perception of the business or individual who is being interviewed.

If you have a bad interview or a bad interviewer; it can completely turn you off.  We all know how much pressure there is on the candidate to perform on demand in this process, but often, the interviewer is under equally just as much pressure to get things right, the first time.

Best Interview Questions

So, let’s start with four of the best questions to ask when interviewing a candidate and why I feel they are so important to ask.

Understanding Their Values

  1. What is your greatest achievement at work?

The response to this question will give you, as the interviewer, a clear insight into what the candidates values and what they feel is important within the workplace.

The Right Cultural Fit

  1. What type of working environment do you like to work in if you want to do you perform to your best ability?

Team fit is vital, and cultural fit forms a significant part of this.  You need collaboration and cooperation with others.  Finding out that you have hired a person who wants to work alone when you need collaboration with others is not something you can afford to do.   You need to try and ensure that once you recruit a person (we all know the costs associated with training and recruitment of new starters), that you are able to keep hold of them, and that they are happy.

Autonomy and Independence

  1. What kind of feedback and interaction would you like your manager to provide?

The answer to this question will give you a clear overview of how self-sufficient a candidate is and how much supervision they expect or are used to having.

Performance History

  1. Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle or something which was preventing you delivering upon a goal or promise. What did you do and how did you do it?

A question I am sure nearly everyone has been asked at some point in the past, and with good reason.  This will give you information about their problem-solving capabilities along with what they consider to be an obstacle.

The Worst Interview Questions

Some of these are absolutely awful, but I assure you, at one time or another, a candidate or several candidates have reported that they have been asked some of these questions.  I have also consulted with the Glassdoor report in order to produce 10 of these stunning examples for your amusement.

So, here we go with the worst questions to ask at an interview. None of which, need any explanation whatsoever for why they are so bad.

  1. How lucky are you, and why? Asked in a Content Manager interview for AirBnB
  2. If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why? Asked at a Sales Associate Interview for Bed Bath & Beyond
  3. If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors? Unbelievably, this was asked at an Apple Inc. interview
  4. Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? Asked in an interview for an IT Account Manager at Dell
  5. Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? Asked in a Client Management interview for Xerox
  6. How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year? This was apparently a great question to ask a Programme Analyst in their interview for Goldmann Sachs
  7. What is the colour of money? The American Heart Association felt it was prudent to ask this to a potential Project Manager
  8. Have you ever been on a boat? Applied Systems asked this question to a prospective Graphic Designer
  9. How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.? This was asked by Factual at an interview they had with a Software Engineer
  10. What was the last gift you gave someone? A Data Analyst reported they were asked this at an interview for Gallup.

Have you been subjected to a questionable questioner? Or, have you had a candidate ask you an odd question at the end of an interview?

If so, please spread the word and share your comments below: I know there must be more out there!