Never Ask These Questions When Interviewing Candidates (And What to Ask Instead)

Do you think of yourself as a Raisin Bran flake or more of a Frosted Mini-Wheat? Who would you rather be: Batman or Superman? Sell me this glass of water. The process to fill a job role can feel as long to interviewers as it does to candidates, and it can be tempting to try to liven up things with some off-kilter questions. But asking candidates which breakfast cereal they most identify with is unlikely to yield useful responses. Nor should you go with the tried-and-tested — but ultimately pointless — standards, such as “where do you see yourself in five years?” and “what is your biggest weakness?” These are both uninspiring and ripe for falsehoods. It’s hard to get it right, particularly when you must also consider the legal implications of your questioning: a survey by CareerBuilder found that one in five employers admit to having asked illegal questions in an interview setting, while one in three are unsure what questions are safe to ask. Even seemingly innocuous questions like, “where did you grow up?” and “do you have children?” can leave you on shaky legal grounds. The following list of questions not to ask, and alternatives you can turn to, will ensure you get the most out of the interview process. 

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