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In the hiring process, certainly you need to learn how applicants think, work and perform. But many types of interview questions have become outdated.

You’ve probably experienced them when you were job searching, too.

Here are updated approaches to consider:

“Where do you want to be in five years?”

Instead, ask something like: “How does this job fit into your career plans?”


Applicants are savvy enough to know employers want loyal workers. So, they give the typical trite and expected answers employers want to hear, such as wanting to make a difference or excelling in the position.

In this way, you’ll more likely to get an honest answer.

Rapidly changing technology and the coronavirus pandemic have significantly changed the workplace.

So, be sure ask about the applicants about their abilities and qualities in terms of dealing with evolving technology and their flexibility in telecommuting if you think it’s likely to be needed in your business.

“What are your biggest weaknesses?”

Ugh, no longer an effective question. Not only do applicants fear mentioning a weakness that might disqualify them, they’ll segue into a canned disingenuous answer that paints them in a positive light because they’ve come to expect such a question.

Instead, ask: “What will your previous supervisor say on how you need to improve your work performance?”

You’re more likely to get an honest answer and a better insight into the candidates.

“Why do you want to work here?”

Such a question will lead to a complimentary answer about your business but it won’t provide you with revealing information that will help you choose the right applicants.

It’s best to learn whether the candidate effectively researched your company and how they anticipate contributing to the welfare of your organization.

Ask alternate questions: “What are your experiences or talents that make you an ideal fit for this job?”

Or, “What would your recent boss say about you that would make you the perfect person for this job?”

These questions will yield the answers you’ll need to hear.

“How much were you paid in your last job?”

In many regions, this has become an illegal question in the era of concerns about gender and racial disparity and equality.

While this question might help you gain leverage in paying lower wages, it doesn’t give you valuable insights into the applicants’ potential. And potential is ultimately what you need to uncover.

So, ask something like: “What motivates you?”

You’ll learn insights including the persons’ desires, goals and passions that would motivate them to perform well at your organization.

“If you were an animal, which do you prefer to be?”

Employers errantly ask such a silly question which might lead to some humor and shows whether applicants can think on their feet, but it isn’t productive otherwise.

Such a question is only helpful if it concerns your workplace culture.

Instead, get helpful insights by asking something like, “What trends would you like to see us pursue if our financial resources were unlimited?”

The answers will tell you about the persons’ thinking ability, whether they researched your company and how well they’ll fit into your culture.

Or also, ask: “Tell me some things about you that I won’t find in your cover letter, resume or social media?”

You’ll be able to learn more about the persons’ personality and it creates an opportunity for you and the candidates to relate to each other better.

Good luck.

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“Interviewing someone is a very proactive process and requires taking a lot of agency into your own hands to get past people’s general normal self-preservation mode.”

-Brandon Stanton


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.