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.
– ‘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:
- Over the last few years social media has rapidly changed. How have these changes impacted your work?
- Which would you rather have, XX work from home days or an extra week of vacation. Why?
- Where do you see our industry going in 2-3 years? How are you preparing for those changes?
- Where do see a need for improvement in our organization?
- 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?