As a business consultant, I find myself cringing when I hear that a company uses formatted interview questions. These are the companies that require their interviewers to read from a prepared script of questions for each interview so that each interviewee is asked the exact same questions. In my professional opinion, I believe that formatted interview questions do more harm than good for the interview process. If you own a small business, you need to pay close attention. Learn from the mistakes now of the larger companies.
Many of the interviewers that I have spoken to over the years feel they have become distanced from the interview by formatted questions. Many believe that their job is simply to ask these formatted interview questions, and weigh the responses. Since, in many cases, they are only allowed to use the questions that are listed on their page, they wonder if their companies underestimate their abilities as an interviewer. Do you want your interviewer to feel distances from his or her job?
I spoke to one hundred people who had recently gone through interviews. Over seventy percent stated that they felt more comfortable when an interviewer was not asking formatted interview questions. Michel Thomas of Dearborn, Michigan, stated that, “Interviews just don’t come across as personal anymore.” I know that an interview should have a certain amount of controlled stress, but this is uncalled for.
Repetition of Questions
I sat in on the interviews of a dozen different companies in the last few months. I found that some of the exact (or almost exact) same questions were asked by each company. In total, 150 work-related questions were asked at these interviews with forty of them being shared by multiple companies.
Some interviewees that I spoke with stated that they were tired of being asked the same questions over and over again. Some even stated that they had memorized generic answers to these common questions so that they could at least ace part of the interview. Do you really want your interviewees coming in with memorized answers?
There are websites out there that list formatted interview questions from different companies. Not only do they list the questions that will be asked at the larger retail companies, they also list many of the small local companies that do regular hiring as well. An interviewee can go onto Glassdoor or Indeed and not only find the formatted interview questions, but tips on how to answer them as well. I like interviewees to be prepared, but this is ridiculous!
I have advised my clients over the years to get away from asking formatted interview questions. I could foresee the day when they would be getting out of hand, and the day has come. You might be reading this and wondering how to get around asking formatted interview questions.
You can still have your interviewer have a list of questions in hand. Teach your interviewer what types of answers you are looking for and why. Have that person come up with some question ideas to lead to those answers. I call this “Interview Jeopardy.” Go over these questions, and come up with variables that could give you the same kinds of answers. Have the interviewer switch between version with each interview to keep things fresh.