How Much Does That Interview Question Really Tell You?

As the economy recovers and companies vie for the most qualified applicants, hiring Brain teasers do not predict employee performance and should be avoided in favor of relevant interview questionsmanagers are taking interview innovation to new extremes. One of the most popular techniques is posing outlandish questions to potential hires and trying to decipher the nuances of their character from their responses.

Does this strategy really work, though? According to Inc. Magazine, although the wildcard question may seem like a unique way of gauging a potential employee’s ability to think on his or her feet, it may not reveal as much about an individual’s aptitude for a position as hiring staff might hope. Rather, human resource managers should focus training and development programs for interviewers on developing questions that connect more directly to the job.

Theoretical Questions Don’t Tell Much

So what kind of quandaries are hiring managers throwing at applicants? According to the source, common questions pose theoretical situations or test the limits of potential hires’ imagination. Applicants at Dell, for instance, have been asked if they consider themselves more of the hunter or gatherer type. At Bed Bath & Beyond, hopeful future sales associates have been asked to explain what type of cereal they most associate with themselves. Although these questions might seem like the perfect means of challenging applicants, they might be more of a dead end than anything else when it comes to providing valuable feedback for interviewers.

“They don’t predict anything,” said Laszlo Bock, a Google executive. “They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

Questions that in no way relate to the position for which the individual is applying offer no insight into how well they would adapt to the role or company. In fact, throwing these sort of meaningless quandaries at a potential hire can give a false impression of both their abilities and the qualities which are valued by the organization. According to Bock, Google found that an applicant’s ease in answering brain teasers and other non-traditional questions rarely correlated with his or her aptitude for a position.

For Most Insight, Ask Relevant, Engaging Questions

Management training for hiring staff should include a portion on optimizing questions to be both informative to the applicant and able to draw out answers that are worthwhile to the human resource team. According to ABC, questions can still be posed in a thought-provoking manner to inspire revealing responses. For instance, asking a person to describe a professional situation in which they felt they could have done better is a fresh way of posing the traditional query about an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Another option to consider includes requesting that applicants answer questions from an outside perspective. What would their current boss say about their work ethic? How would their friends or family members describe their character and values? This method reveals a prospective hire’s ability to think creatively but also assists directly in determining how well they fit the position for which they’re applying. Posing theoretical workplace scenarios and asking applicants how they would react is another way to relevantly gauge their abilities. Whatever the method, interviewers should remember to keep the questions related to their end goal, which is finding an employee who is a good fit for the role.


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