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Applicants arrive at interviews prepared to answer standard interview questions. Most companies will ask the following or similar interview questions: What are you major strengths? Where would you like to see yourself improve? Tell me about a time …. Applicants have had multiple rehearsals on how to answer these questions. If they are serious about […]

Applicants arrive at interviews prepared to answer standard interview questions. Most companies will ask the following or similar interview questions:

  • What are you major strengths?
  • Where would you like to see yourself improve?
  • Tell me about a time ….

Applicants have had multiple rehearsals on how to answer these questions. If they are serious about the position, they have more than likely planned and rehearsed their answers, multiple times. Is your organization looking to cast the lead role in their latest production; or are you looking for a serious applicant that can be a great employee and grow with your company?

So what do these questions tell you? They may let you know that the applicant is willing to do research, or that they have practiced beforehand or that they know how to “talk the talk.” However, do they give you a true indication of who the applicant is? I would say no they do not, but they do give you two insights.

First, they tell you what this person believes the right answers to be in order to get the job. They may be truthful in some capacities, but they are nevertheless rehearsed responses. If they have very unique answers you also know that they have put much thought into these questions.

Second, they tell you if this person prepared for the interview or has the polish to answer these questions properly. If they aren’t prepared to answer standard interview questions, and they stumble over their answers they probably aren’t a good fit for your organization.

I wouldn’t discourage using standard interview questions, but I would encourage interviewers to ask two additional questions related to standard out-of-the-box questions. Go a level deeper on these questions to truly get to know the applicant.

Question: What are you major strengths?

Follow-up Questions: How would you apply these strengths at our company?

How did you become so strong in these areas?

How far do you think these strengths can take you at our company?

Question: Where would you like to see yourself improve?

Follow-up Questions: How do you think our company will help you improve?

What are doing to improve in this area?

What is a second area you would like to improve in?

Through expanding these standard interview questions you will be able to better judge whether the applicant is a good fit for your organization. In most interviews I will ask 3-5 of these interview questions with follow-up questions. The rest of the interview I spend asking more personal/out of the box questions in an attempt to truly understand the applicant’s motivations and potential. In my next blog I will address this line of questioning and the benefits.

By Last Updated: April 8, 2021Categories: Blog2.2 min read