Let’s replace meaningless interview questions

Adnan Adil
3 min readOct 26, 2020

I remember my father used to tell me interesting stories of interviews related to civil services and armed forces. As far as I remember, all those stories were quite interesting and somehow funny. Three decades back it was all about civil services and armed forces. Times changed now and same is the interview process. The private industry is now taking more interviews in a week than armed forces in a year. Private industry Interviews are getting more technical and nerve-wracking day by day and honestly, it’s started getting irritated when questions like “What’s your greatest weakness” or “Why are you interested in this role” are asked after all those bombardments of technical questions. With the current job market and competition, these questions are really a waste of time and energy for both the interviewer and candidate. These are the standard questions recruiters have been asking for the last 100 years now. Candidates know these questions, and will anyway rig the answers in a politically correct manner. The internet is full of perfect answers to these subjective questions.

Let’s just take a second give a big thanks to COVID-19, which pushed the industry towards online interviews, a change that we were all looking for, and let’s not miss the opportunity by changing the attitude of the interviewer as well. In 5–6 years of my career, I have given numerous interviews and almost every third company was involved in asking these meaningless questions. Time has changed now, let’s take the situation into our favor and reframe our all non-technical interview questions to more behavioral, competency, and situational based scenarios.

Here are some of the examples that can replace our meaningless questions.

1) What will you do when your colleague is exhausted/stressed out by a project?

2) Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your manager’s leadership style or team culture.

3) Have you ever had to make a difficult decision within a team that most people were against? Explain the situation and your decision

4) Describe a situation when you had to complete a piece of work to a high standard while meeting a strict deadline.

5) You have a very strict boss; you are given a project with a very tough deadline. During that project, you made a mistake that can ruin the project in long term, but if you accept the mistake the boiling point of your boss will rise to 150 degrees. What will you do and why?

6) You’re working on a key project that you can’t complete because you’re waiting on work from a colleague. What would you do?

And the list goes on. And it’s not the recruiters that we are blaming here, they are already fed up with candidates not showing up, canceling interviews on time, and facing pathetic attitude of candidates almost on daily basis. Maybe there are reasons behind these [annoying] questions which I missed, but on a serious note, I think most of these questions you asked are outdated and cliche and need to be changed in one way or another.

Candidate should be treated as a human being, they are also fragile and vulnerable just like us. Think about a candidate, how much will he enjoy, and appreciate having an honest discussion about a job rather than feel like they have to lie when asked, what are your weakness or why should we hire you. The Candidate will only be able to give us honest answers if and only if we stick to that job itself, it will also help us gain more respect from the candidate.