Dear employers: Stop asking these interview questions, and here’s how you can ask it better

GeneralOctober 05, 2020 17:43

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Written by Max Loong, Assistant Marketing Manager - Reeracoen Singapore 

We all know the purpose of interviews – to assess whether a candidate is qualified for a particular job role and if the individual is a good fit for the company and its working culture.

A common practice for many untrained hiring managers is to look up “interview questions” on Google before an interview session. What they end up with is asking the most commonly used questions – some that are outdated, pointless, and does not reflect well to your employer branding. Despite having good intentions behind the questions, some questions just do not bring any value to the interviewers and can be a waste of time for both parties in the interview.

Some of these questions got so overused (and laughable), even memes are created around them like this one:

Here are a few commonly overused questions, and how you can better rephrase them to receive more valuable answers!

"Tell me more about yourself."

One of the first questions to ask, this is not a good question because it shows that you did not care enough about the candidate to review any information they provided in their resume. It also does give your candidate any specifics of what you are asking for, leading to misunderstandings and giving you irrelevant answers.

What to ask instead: “Your credentials caught our attention, that’s why we wanted to meet you. Tell me something about your background that you feel we should know.”


"What is your biggest weakness?"

Although this it is good for candidates to be reflective of their weakness, this question has been used countless of times. So much so that you are not likely to get an authentic answer – they will either answer with the “strength disguised as a weakness” solution or answer what they think you want to hear. Such “mind games” will not tell much about the candidate’s suitability for the role.

What to ask instead: “Tell me about a time you saw an opportunity to improve yourself and how you went about achieving that goal.”


"Why should we hire you?"

It can come across as hostile to your prospective candidates and puts them on the spot – and not in a good way. Most candidates will try to answer the question in the way they think the interviewer wants to hear, most of the time with a rehearsed answer. Answers to this question are also often focused on things that are already available in a candidate’s resume.

What you are really trying to figure out with this question is to know how the candidate is as a person, how they work, and whether they’d get along with the members of the existing team. Just because someone can do the job doesn’t mean they’d be a good fit.

What to ask instead: “Why would you be a good fit for this role?”


"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

Does anyone really know where they will be in 5 years? Most candidates know that you are looking for someone who will stay in the job for the long term and will answer accordingly, whether or not they intend to do so. Do you want to have an honest conversation with your candidates or one with standardised answers?

What to ask instead: “What are you looking for in your next job?”



Knowing to ask the right questions will give decision-makers a better understanding of whether a candidate's abilities, knowledge, and more importantly attitude are aligned with a particular job opening. As we stay relevant to the times, keep in mind that our interview techniques should be updated too. Remember interviews not just a one-way conversation - it is also an opportunity for prospective talents to decide if the company matches his/her career objectives.

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