Textbook Interview Questions Equal Textbook Answers

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer, right? Well perhaps your questions aren’t silly, but if they’re straight out of the textbook, you’re likely to receive the same textbook answers from all of your well prepared candidates. And as a recruiting employer that’s only going to make life more difficult for you. After all the main purpose of interviewing is the get to know each individual candidate and determine who will best suit your role, so it’s down to you to carefully craft some intelligent interview questions that will tease out some interesting and revealing answers.

Who Uses Textbook Interview Questions Anyway?
If you’re part of a well established organisation, you may have interview procedures and guidelines in place, and sometimes a lack of innovation or slight complacency can mean interview questions are rarely updated. Styles change, skills change and candidates expectations change, so it’s always important to refresh and review interview questions. Textbook style questions are often found in technical job interviews, and they’re often genuinely needed to validate a candidate’s skills and knowledge. However, perhaps these kind of questions are best off in an initial screening process, a written or online test if appropriate? They will not reveal the real caliber of your candidates, and that’s exactly what you should be doing in your face to face interview.

What’s Wrong with Textbook Answers?
Those who can give you the perfect definition or theory may be well educated and informed, but how do you know if they’ll fit into your team, how do you know they’ve experienced this theory in action? Anyone can revise, but not everyone has the depth of experience and practical workplace problem solving skills that can only be revealed by asking open-ended and ‘tell me about a time when…’ questions.

Digging a Little Deeper
Chances are many of these textbook interview questions can be answered by looking at a candidates CV, application form or online portfolio. You should of course be up to date with these before the interview, so don’t ask questions you already know the answer to. A key part of your role as interviewer is to listen, and you want your candidate to really feel like you are listening and that you’re genuinely interested. Asking questions about experiences and previous scenarios will open your candidate up and allow them to share stories about how they’ve applied their knowledge, not simply what knowledge they hold.

At Langley James, we’ll work hard to put the right candidate in front of you from the beginning, but once it’s your turn to do the interviewing we’ll be there if you need any further help or ideas. To find out more contact one of our consultants.