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5 Interview Questions that Should be Asked, But Aren’t [A Guest Post]

September 10, 2016 by Lady Unemployed

I’ve recently found myself on ‘That side of the table.’  You know the one.  The side where you sit alone and face a panel of inquisitors who hold crisp, white sheets of paper with questions that require you to summarize your career in two minute intervals.

It’s been over 10 years since I’ve had to go through the interview process and I can confidently say the interview questions I’ve been asked are nearly the same ones I answered 10 years ago.

Questions like:

– ‘Tell me/us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation and how did you handle it?’

-‘What has been your biggest success?’

– ‘Have you worked with a difficult coworker? How did you you manage your relationship while working with them?

The last one makes me want to grin and shout out, ‘Nope.  In 16 years, I’ve never worked with a single person I didn’t like!  Next question, please.’

These questions have become so standardized that if you Google, ‘interview questions’ you’ll find hundreds of sites offering you the latest, greatest way to answer THE interview question(s) that have been around for 15-20 years.  To put that into perspective, August marked the 10th year since Google’s initial public offering (IPO).  

Driving home from a recent interview, I wondered why we continue to recycle the same, stale questions; why we are using questions that predate the Blackberry or even the wide use of cellular phones.  Perhaps it’s a human resources best practice thing; perhaps these questions are really informative for some people, or perhaps it’s simply because we have too many emails, too many phone calls, too many everything that precludes us from rethinking the whole interview process.  So it gets pushed off.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it … right?

Well, it’s broke.

Interviews are meant to act as the gatekeepers to your organization.  If the art, and importance, of the interview is going to remain a useful tool, then questions need to be updated for the 21st Century.  Here’s an example of what I mean: during the numerous interviews I’ve been on, not once have I been asked about my knowledge of social media and how I used it for a successful campaign (which is necessary for almost every field these days).  I was, however, asked about the jobs I held in the early aughts.

With these experiences in mind, I thought I’d take a stab at five questions that I feel interviewers should be asking, but aren’t:

  1. Over the last few years social media has rapidly changed.  How have these changes impacted your work?
  2. Which would you rather have, XX work from home days or an extra week of vacation.  Why?
  3. Where do you see our industry going in 2-3 years?  How are you preparing for those changes?
  4. Where do see a need for improvement in our organization?
  5. What’s the next step in technology and how do you think we can get in front of it now?

You’ll notice all of these questions focus on today’s technological world and how they are working with/in it.  The questions are also diverse enough to get a better understanding of the interviewee.  Take the work from home question.  The answer may indicate better productivity and less stress on an employee if they work from home, or someone may want an extra week of vacation to take a longer break from work to recharge.  See how easy and fun this is!

Now, like all interviews, it’s time to wrap things up and ask you if you have any questions.  In this case, what questions do you think employers should be asking their recruits?  Is there a particularly painful question you’ve been asked that you’d like to share?



  1. Ludwig Keck says:

    Over the many decades of my working career I have been on both sides of the table. I have made plenty of mistakes as interviewee as well as interviewer.

    My experience tells me that there are basically four questions that can’t be asked but need to be answered. Will the candidate be successful in the position? Will the candidate fit into the culture? Will the organization be a comfortable home for the candidate? And one last but overriding question: Does the candidate want to have a good job or do a good job?

    If your questions lead to these answers they will be useful, whether new and surprising or old and trite.

    Now allow me to improve your organization and put you on the leading edge of technology 😉

  2. “will the candidate fit into the culture”. Hmmm.

    I am now retired, and before that I was on sickness benefits for several years, due to depression.

    Part of that depression was due to rejection in the job market.

    I was in my late 50s and at several interviews the above question was used in a disguised way as an excuse for age discrimination. The legislation had only been in a couple of years at that point.

    As the Job Centre had been involved in arranging some of the interviews I complained to them and said that I had not been given a fair chance. They were not interested in going back to the employer and pointing out that the questions asked were bordering on illegal.

    I was well used much earlier in my career to being repeatedly asked about my parenting intentions before such questions were illegal, but rejection based purely on age was something new and very upsetting.

    I am absolutely certain it is still going on, particularly in some industries like IT – which was what I did.

    One version of the question that I was asked by a national sporting body was ‘The average age in our office is very young, do you think you will fit in’. My answer indicated that I would be there to do a job, not to gossip about TV, Facebook or my favourite music.

    Yes, obviously I would have tried to get on with my colleagues in the office and I would consider myself to have a young outlook but surely I shouldn’t be rejected because I wouldn’t be seeing them outside work on a social basis?

    Whether this question should be asked depends very much on the intention of the questioner.

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