7 Interview Questions to Stop Asking & What to Ask Instead

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If you’re like most hiring managers, you have a list of overused interview questions that you tend to ask all of your job candidates.

You might think that these questions will give you the answers you need to make a decision, but that’s not always the case.

In fact, some of these questions can actually hurt your chances of finding the best candidate which is why there are certain questions hiring managers shouldn’t waste their time asking during an interview.

Why hiring managers shouldn’t ask common interview questions

Hiring managers sometimes think they have the perfect question to ask in an interview, but more often than not, these questions are overused and can be easily answered by prepared job seekers.

Canned questions will almost always elicit canned answers.

By asking the same cliche questions as everyone else, you may be missing out on qualified candidates who have insightful answers and perspectives that you’ll never hear about because the questions you’re asking aren’t inspiring the right responses.

Asking alternative questions instead provides an opportunity to get the most out of the job interview and elicit more thoughtful answers that will help you better assess each candidate.

Top 7 most common & overused interview questions

1. Tell me about yourself.

Not only is it an extremely vague and broad question, but it also puts the entire burden of the conversation on the candidate.

You’re essentially asking them to give you an overview of their entire life and career which is a lot to ask from someone especially since you should have already taken time to review their resume and social media.

What to ask instead of “Tell me about yourself.”

Try narrowing the focus of this question by asking specific questions about their experience or skills as it relates to the role.

Ask them what they enjoyed about each role they held and what motivated them to leave each position and take the jobs they did.

This will give you a greater sense of their goals and priorities.

2. Why are you interested in our company/this role?

Any half-decent candidate will have done their research on your company and the job description and will have rehearsed cliche answers prepared.

But the point of these interview questions is to separate the half-decent candidates from top-level talent.

What to ask instead of “Why are you interested in our company/this role?”

Ask them what it is about your company that intrigues them or how they think they could add value to the team.

This will give you a better sense of how they would fit in with your company culture and what they’re looking to get out of a new position.

3. What are your strengths?

This question is often used as an opportunity for candidates to spotlight the areas they feel most confident about, but it’s not very helpful in assessing their qualifications for the job.

What to ask instead of “What are your strengths?”

Instead, ask them about a time when they had to use one of their strengths in a difficult situation.

This will give you a better sense of how they define and think about their strengths as well as whether or not they’re able to apply them in a real-world setting.

4. What are your weaknesses?

Another common interview question, “the weakness question” is often used as an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their level of self-awareness and their willingness to grow and evolve professionally, however, it does little to assess their qualifications for the job.

What to ask instead of “What are your weaknesses?”

Rather than asking them to list their weaknesses, ask them about a time when they faced a difficult challenge at work and how they coped with it.

This will give you a better sense of how they deal with adversity, whether or not they seem like a team player, and what kind of support or resources they need to be successful in a new role.

5. Why do you want to work in this industry?

While you’ll want to hire a candidate that has some interest in the industry they’re interviewing for, it shouldn’t be one of the main determining factors in whether or not they’re a good fit for the role.

The truth is, they may never have considered working in shipping and logistics but given their experience, skills, and expertise, they may be able to bring just what you need to your team.

What to ask instead of “Why do you want to work in this industry?”

Ask them how they think their skills and experience will translate to the role and the specific industry they’re applying for.

This will give you a solid indication of whether or not they can apply their expertise to your industry and if they believe they can bring unique value.

6. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

One of the most common interview questions, this question is often used as an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their long-term career goals and commitment to the company.

However, in today’s employment landscape, nobody can say for certain where they see themselves in 5-10 years. Not to mention, plans change!

What to ask instead of “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?”

Instead of asking them to map out their entire future, ask them about their professional goals and how they plan on achieving them.

This will give you a better sense of their work ethic, drive, and determination as well as their ability to set and achieve tangible goals.

7. Why should we hire you?

Finally, asking a candidate why you should hire them may be the most cliche and overused interview question on the list.

However, why you should or shouldn’t hire a candidate should not be left up to the candidate.

If you’ve done a good enough job of asking the right questions throughout the interview process, the answer to this question should become evident.

What to ask instead of “Why should we hire you?”

Take this as your opportunity to ask them if they have any questions for you.

This will give you a chance to assess their level of interest and engagement in the role as well as get a sense of what’s important to them in a new position.

It will also give you an opportunity to further sell them on the role and your company as well as prep them for the next steps in the hiring process if need be.

Why hiring managers shouldn’t ask cliche interview questions

By avoiding these overused and irrelevant questions, you’ll be able to get more out of your interviews and get a better sense of each candidate’s qualifications, skills, and experience.

You’ll also be able to get a better sense of their work ethic, drive, and determination.

Finally, and arguably most importantly, you’ll avoid getting the same pre-rehearsed, scripted answers over and over again, giving you the ability to find the perfect candidate and unique talent you’re looking for.

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