10 reasons to ditch those Common Interview Questions

common interview questions


  • Get a free document that samples over 200 unique and common interview questions that you can edit for use in your business. 
  • Find out why introducing a few curve ball interview questions is a good thing. 
  • Prevent yawning when conducting interviews.

Bottom Line

Using the same over-rehearsed interview questions is both boring and prevents you from really getting to know your candidate

The Common Interview

Turns out that most of us could recite those prehistoric common interview questions in our sleep. Probably because while our eyes may be open, we're slowly nodding off during those over-rehearsed dances in the interrogation. 

Q:  What are your strengths?  A:  I'm a hard worker.  <yawn>

Q:  What are your weaknesses?  A:  I work too much.  <zzzzzz>

Q:  Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?  A:  I'd like to be an Accounting Supervisor in your company. <snore>

Throw some curve balls into the interview. Ask some unanticipated, out-of-the-blue queries that cannot be rehearsed and see what happens. At the very least, shaking up your interview questions will help both you and the candidate stay awake during the interrogation. 

Examples of not so Common Interview Questions

Too many to list here.  Here's plan B:

  • Take a peak at some Good Interview Questions and download the free editable Word template that includes nearly 250 interview questions categorized by competency.
  • Customize the document to include your company's common interview questions and make this list of interview questions available to your hiring managers.  
  • You can find the more creative interview questions on pages 4 through 6, and pages 16 and 17.

10 reasons to ditch some of your Common Interview Questions

  1. Great icebreaker.  Talking about lighter topics is a great way to make people more comfortable.
  2. Takes the yawn out of the interview.  Like a good suspense movie, you can look forward to getting answers to unique questions.   Eliminates the stilted, canned responses.
  3. Test the candidate's ability to respond under pressure and display their creativity, confidence, and critical thinking.
  4. Allows the real candidate to shine through (for better or worse).
  5. The candidate can't prepare when you ask questions they could never have anticipated. After all, interviewing isn't about getting the right answer by studying before the exam.  It's about candid and real insights that allow the real candidate to shine through - for better or worse.  Sidebar:  Is it a coincidence that 'candidate' includes the word 'candid'?  (Just amusing myself - it's late in the day).  
  6. When even a seasoned 'teflon' candidate is stumped by a question, they usually find it difficult to fake an answer. When there's no where to turn, a candidate will answer honestly. 
  7. You can observe first hand how a candidate makes a decision under fire. Do they pause to be thoughtful before answering or do they want to get the right answer quickly and show you that they think fast and can provide a clever answer?  Both styles have their advantages, but they're each appropriate for certain jobs or company cultures. 
  8. Easter egg interview questions result in reduced time spent interviewing because you can see what your candidate is made of relatively quickly.  Weeding out no-fits takes a lot less time.  
  9. Your candidate will have a solid understanding of your team culture and the hiring manager's personality  based on the interview questions you choose .
  10. And finally, you'll be able to write a compelling book that summarizes everything you learn from these types of interviews.  Some of the answers are brilliant and fascinating.

Tips when replacing Common Interview Questions

When you decide to replace your common interview questions with creative ones, remember:

  • Don't eliminate asking the standard questions related to the candidate's resume.  Example:  "You were an Accountant at ABC company for 4 years.  Tell me briefly about your main responsibilities".
  • Limit the number of Easter egg or wild card interview questions.  Don't eliminate common interview questions all together.  It would exhaust the candidate. Too much creativity is too much of a good thing.
  • Be careful about the position level when asking unconventional interview questions.  Junior candidates or highly nervous candidates may not respond well to them.  Use your judgment.
  • If a candidate begins to sweat profusely or you're pretty sure that you're not going to hire them, put the brakes on the curve ball questions and return to common interview questions. Give them an opportunity to show you the song and dance they prepared for you and let them off the hook.

Ariane Laird Vancouver

Ariane Laird is CEO & Founder of ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her directly from the Inquiry Type drop down menu.