Hey Recruiters, We Beg You To Not Ask These 20 Questions To The Candidates

Asking the right questions to the candidate during the pre-screening is hard. We created this guide with 20 questions which will make you a smart recruiter with your pre-screening questions.

As a recruiter you represent your company and the hiring team. Your task is to find the best and fittest candidate for the job. No doubt about it! But that’s no excuse to ask redundant, ancient or irrelevant questions.

recruitring - avoid oops moment with candidate prescreening call

While you are assessing the candidate in the screening call, the candidate is also judging you and your organization – by assessing the quality and relevance of your questions. So, please avoid asking these screening questions, unless there is a strong rationale to it.

  • What are your weaknesses?

Unless you live in 1960, you shouldn’t ask this question. Or unless you are interviewing for MBA schools. This is such a idiotic question – everyone know they have to make some shit up – something which shows their weakness but makes you go “Awwwww” .. like “I pay so much attention to details, that I end up burning mid-night oil”. BS.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

10 years – god only knows what will happen in 10 years. Ask something like, what areas they can make a difference to the company other than they day to day job. Try to learn what’s more about this person you are talking to – probably they are a good teacher and even if they are a coder, could produce really wonderful blogs. Or they are good at breaking ice between team members and foster amazing spirit within the teams and the company.

  • What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

The candidate can make some shit up – similar to what’s your weaknesses. Instead give a scenario and assess for yourself.

  • Would you work holidays/weekends?

This is giving out a bad impression at the onset. I agree that the job could be demanding, but instead of a question tell them the expectation – and then ask – What do you think? Are you ready for such a life?

  • Who are our competitors?

This question is relevant – but could be made better. Ask about the overall space your company operates in and why the candidate likes that vertical. Or has he/ she seen a similar offering? By asking who are our competitors you just will just get few names. By if you ask about the space and business, they will be able to share few more insights which could surprise you.

  • Who’s your mentor?

Unless you are hiring for a CEO, this is one of the most ridiculous question I have seen. Do you like someone who knows who’s who and can start dropping names and influence you?

  • What is the name of our CEO?

I get it. Unless your CEO is on a mission to save the world, probably there is a better question than this – “What do you know about the current team? Or what do you expect from this team? Or Do you know the mission of our company?”

  • What gets you up in the morning?

Some context will be helpful. Ask, what do you like of your current job or role? Why nursing (if you are seeking a nurse) or why are you a pilot? If you ask philosophical questions, you will get similar answers – no good when it comes to hiring a rockstar candidate.

  • What would your direct reports say about you?

See next question’s answer.

  • What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?

Probably there is a good chance that the candidate is looking for a new opportunity because he/ she is fed up of their boss. Hollywood wouldn’t make two movies otherwise, right?

How does it questions even matter to anyone?

  • If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?

You are freaking this person out now – you do not know the equation of this person with their boss.

  • Are you a leader or a follower?

Many followers type people know they are having an interview call and just to sound good, would say Leader – because they know that what you want to hear. Give them a situation and assess for yourself if they are leader type or follower type person.

  • What was the last book you’ve read for fun?

How does it matter? The person could be reading 50 Shades – which has nothing to do with Java position (no pun intended). Remember, the candidate probably is in middle of his/ her day (unless you are using Recruitring 🙂 ) – and so they want to get back to their current job.

  • What are your co-worker pet peeves?

Nah. Just don’t.

  • What are your hobbies?

This is very old technique to ask for or share hobbies. So, here’s a note to candidates too – do not write your hobbies on the resume. And you recruiters, kindly do not ask for hobbies in the prescreening interview call.

  • What is your favorite website?

For what? Business, leisure, learning, utility? Also, favorite can also imply the way it got built and grew it’s user base.

  • What makes you uncomfortable?

Context please. There can be many things which makes a person uncomfortable. Without a context, neither the candidate is going to say anything meaningful, not you are going to get any worthy response.

  • How would you fire someone?

Not a great way to ask this – Probably a better way could be, How do you handle non-performing candidates? How will you make a hard choice to … ?

  • Would you work 40+ hours a week?

This is a confusing question. You could say this is demanding job – but upfront saying 40+ hours brings up a lot of other questions and open up a can of worms.

  • What questions haven’t I asked you?

Go prepared. If you did not understood the job description or a specific requirement, spend extra time with the hiring manager or a subject matter expert. Refer to our checklist to get the best out of hiring manager before you start making those calls to the candidate.

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