Favorite Job Interview Questions May Not Be The Best - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I analyzed the first six questions from a LinkedIn article on the “Favorite Job Interview Questions” from 13 CEO’s. I used a simple scoring scale, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 and the “total score” for the first six questions was -7. Let’s see how the score changes with the next six questions.


7. Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

This is an excellent question +2. It could be improved slightly by focusing first on the “most significant accomplishment” in the candidate’s current job. Ask the same question again (and again) for each of the candidate’s previous positions. This creates a performance-based track record that, for an outstanding candidate, will show a progression of increased responsibilities and greater achievements (e.g., greater impact, higher sales, larger team, etc). Every candidate searching for a job should be able to provide detailed answers to this question for different positions. The total is -5.

8. What’s your superpower – or spirit animal?

The lowest score I’m using is -2, but this question really deserves something lower. What’s really a concern, but not a surprise, is that the example led to hiring someone that’s “amazing” at the job. That’s either pure luck or something that was based on other valuable information obtained in the interview. The “favorite animal” question is considered one of the bad interview questions by the majority of professionals who take interviewing seriously. What’s dangerous is when someone seems to think this question “works” and continues to use it. And there’s certainly no objective way to distinguish among the good and bad animal answers! I’m wondering if there’s ever been any objective research correlating animal types to performance. Back to -7.

9. We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more – with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.

This is a good question +2. I’d suggest making sure the candidates knows it’s OK to “think about it for a few minutes” before answering. A professional interviewer won’t pressure a candidate and will even encourage a few moments of silence. I’d also make the question a little more specific, changing “a recent project or problem” to “a significant accomplishment.” I want the best examples, not just another example. The total is back to -5.

10. Discuss a specific accomplishment you’ve achieved in a previous position that indicates you will thrive in this position.

This starts as a good question but then fades – because it’s not clear what’s required to “thrive in this position” +1. The question would be better if it referred to a particular expectation of the position. I developed “Performance Profiles” for camp counselors several years ago. One of the key objectives was “getting to know the campers personally by the end of the first day.” Stating that objective, then asking this question would be excellent interviewing. The total is now -4.

11. So, what’s your story?

This matches the classic “tell me about yourself.” It’s a bad question, -2, but not completely for the reason most people think. It’s bad because the overwhelming majority of candidates aren’t prepared to give a good response. It’s unfair expecting a candidate to know what you’re looking for – it’s even going to be perceived as threatening by some. Read that question again. Does it sound like it’s showing genuine interest or even in printed form does read as a challenge? I’ve tested the “tell me about yourself” question with 100’s of candidates. Less than 10% provided answers that were “A” responses. Most were wandering or irrelevant. It’s not looking good – the total is now -6.

12. What questions do you have for me?

This question is standard and should be asked in every interview – it’s a +2. But the person liking this question states that he loves asking it “early in an interview.” I disagree. It should be asked later in an interview, after there’s been real rapport established, after any nervousness has dissipated, after you’ve created a solid sharing about expectations. Time’s running out but the score is back to -4.

13. Tell me about a time when things didn’t go the way you wanted – like a promotion you wanted and didn’t get, or a project that didn’t turn out how you had hoped.

I’m not a fan of the “tell me about a time…” pure behavioral questions but I still give this a +1. If the interviewer is doing a good job of fact-finding around a candidate’s most significant accomplishments, this is a good example of how to “peel the onion” for details. Put into the context of a significant accomplishment will make it much more valuable than just another “tell me about…” question. The final score over 13 questions is -3 – not the hoped for, but probably the expected, result. In the third part of this series, I’ll provide some specific examples of how to answer these questions. See more on “Bad Interview Questions” at www.212-careers.com

Related Posts

How To Keep Tough Interview Questions From Ruffling Your Feathers #1 Secret To Getting A Job Interview How To Handle Terminations In An Interview

About the author

Jim Schreier is a management consultant with a focus on management, leadership, including performance-based hiring and interviewing skills. Visit his website at www.farcliffs.com.   Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less