10 Deadly Interview Questions

If you are like most managers, interviewing is not your favourite task in the world. As a result, many managers avoid the topic. Yet, for something people dislike so much, it is one of the most important tasks a manager must execute. Hiring great people is critical to a company’s success. In a survey, Grant Thornton reviewed 1000 companies in the UK and found companies with the highest growth placed having the best people as the most important factor contributing to their company’s growth.

Even more surprising is in another study, only 8% of corporations in the US have any formal interview training program for hiring managers. When was the last time you had interview training from HR?  Since hiring is a task that comes around infrequently, once or twice every six months for most managers, are motivated to invest the time in training.

In absence of formal training the one thing we suggest you can do to improve your interviewing skill is: prepare. Spend 15 minutes before the meeting reviewing the job description, jointing down some questions to ask and think about what information you need that is not in the resume. Interview can be easier than you think but like every successful meeting it all starts with a well orchestrated plan. And if nothing else, please at least read the resume before the interview.

Still need some help? Here are some interview questions that may give some inspiration to step your interview game up.

1. Tell me why I should not hire you?

Probably one of the toughest question to ask and slightly unfair.  Answers are ripe with pit holes and can really throw a candidate off.   This question is designed to test their ability to think on their feet. The best answers are ones that take an apparent negative and make it positive.  Recommended not to start your interview with this question.

2. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten.

Yikes, who wants to answer this one? If you give yourself a 6, then you are showing a lack of self confidence and may not hire you. On the other hand, if you think you’re a 10, you maybe labelled as unmanageable and miserably egotistical. The safest response is the middle ground lies between 8 and 9. This says they are confident, capable, and hard-working, but they know there is always room for improvement.

3. Everyone takes home the occasion pen from the supply room. What is the most expensive thing you taken?

This is a great question to challenge someone’s moral compass. What makes this a tough question is it implies everyone steals from their employers and it is okay to do so. A person must be confident enough to challenge the first statement. Since the interview is usually stressful many people will let their guard and reveal the craziest things. Make sure you preface the question with the question with the initial statement; otherwise you are just accusing some of stealing.

4. Tell me about your greatest error in judgment.

A nice question to determine if your candidate is a model employee or if they have the ability to do the job correctly. The story they choose to tell in response should be unrelated to their previous jobs and should have occurred sometime in the distant past. Also they must be able to talk how they have grown and learned from this mistake. Choosing something recent and/or work related may highlight weaknesses and indicate incompetence.

5. What did you tell your boss get the time off to come to this interview?

Great question to start the interview. It may seem like an icebreaker question, but they are establishing they integrity. They either declare themselves a liar or said they had a doctor’s appointment. The only answer to this question is they are there on your own time, either using a vacation day or part of their lunch hour.

6. Your Manager gives you a large important project to complete by end of day and the president of the company asks you to clean up the office for an important client coming in what do you do?

This questions less about the answer given and more about the ability a person ability to make a decision they can justify.  It also gives insight to prioritize. The natural response for most people is to do as the president asks. The candidate will ask themselves what answer does this person want to hear?  It becomes a dilemma from candidate. Asking more questions to learn about the scenario better is a good sign.

7. Tell me about a situation you would be willing to take a pay cut?

Another killer question; are they a team player, would they take on for the team, and are they here only for the money? This question can lead many responses, but use it to drilling down to learn about their money motivations.

8. What is more important money or time off?

A simple question but one that will without fail will stump many candidates. If they answer the question, money then it will seem greedy and that they will leave at the first job offer that pays higher. Or if they time off then it would they may feel they would be perceived as a slacker. This is a trap question.

9. Have you ever been fired from a job?

Direct question few people are willing to ask directly. Use it sparingly. If the answer yes, do not jump to any conclusion, investigate more. There may be a good reason.

10. Tell me about the job you hated the most

Using this question is only effective if the interviewer spends sometime understanding why and exploring what the person was doing. Dig deep on the specifics of the job duties. Do not take a one or two sentence answer.