11 interview questions that will scare top talent away

Hiring can be a scary or stressful experience – however there’s a fine line between being inquisitive and scaring the candidate away

Although you want to conduct a thorough interview with your candidate, you need to be careful that you don’t in fact scare them away.  Insightful, probing interview questions are key to understand the experience and drive of a candidate but some caution needs to be taken too.

Forbes has compiled a great list of 11 scary interview questions which should not be asked… unless you want to scare your great candidates away!

“Why shouldn’t we hire you?”

The candidate will feel pressured to make up a self-deprecating reasons why they shouldn’t join your team, which isn’t going to help anybody. Worse still, their fight or flight response may kick in and they will brag, “I work too hard,” or “I care too much.” This question isn’t going to help anybody in the interview process.

“Who was the worst boss you ever had, and why?”

Although it is good to gain an insight into their past working environment, this is a pretty ineffective way to phrase this sort of question and may portray an element of negativity from the recruiters side. Try phrasing the question like this instead: “In what previous work environments have you thrived, and why?”

“Describe your most embarrassing moment.”

This could go either way.  While you may be humoured at some funny stories, this could also put some candidates in an awkward situation.  Instead, ask them for some fun facts about them or interesting hobbies they may have.  Save the embarrassing stories for when you’ve built a relationship with the candidate instead.

“What are you hiding from me?”

Never assume the candidate is hiding something unless you have factual evidence that they are doing so.  You can find out most of what you need to know by conducting thorough background and credit checks

“How do you feel about unpaid overtime work?”

A healthy work-life balance is key to a happy and productive employee.  This question screams “Run away!” to a candidate. This question would imply that you do not have healthy boundaries as an employer and would repeatedly expect them to sacrifice their family time – for no pay.

“Do you plan on having kids soon?”

This question is inappropriately personal and illegal to ask. Questions about race, gender, marital status, nationality, disabilities, etc. are also illegal to ask in an interview.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

This question doesn’t really help you get to know the candidate’s competency, culture fit, or experience level and has proven to be pretty unpopular among millennials who don’t necessarily have a 5-year plan for their lives.

“Is there anything we might find out if we talked to your family and friends that we might need to know?”

Conducting thorough reference checks makes this question obsolete. If a candidate is not being honest, you’ll find out for yourself, prior to the interview.

“What salary do you think you’re worth?”

The candidate will instinctively feel as though they have to make a split-second decision to either high-ball the number they need to show how high-capacity they are or to low-ball the number they need to show their humility. Rather ask what salary range they are looking to be in, and more detailed salary negotiations can happen once you make an offer.

“On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you?”

Again this will just make the candidate uncomfortable and they may panic blurt out a completely ridiculous answer. Everyone has their own quirks, but this question forces a candidate to either downplay their idiosyncrasies or exaggerate their “weirdness.” There are more effective questions to ask such as, “What do you enjoy doing for fun in your free time?”

“Do you have issues with intimacy?”

Completely unnecessary – don’t even go there.

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