The personal interview is the final stage of the hiring process for most job profiles. This is when the employer meets the candidate and gets to know the person.
Being a fresh graduate, I am well aware of how people prepare themselves for interviews.
There are certain very obvious questions asked, some of which I feel are useless. They neither serve any purpose nor give any insights. To be very frank, I was asked these questions in most of my interviews and always knew they were coming. In fact, like the majority out there, I even practised the answers beforehand and gave the interviewers exactly what they wanted to hear.
Some of these frequently asked questions are:
• What do you dislike about work?
• Where do you see yourself five years from now?
• What are your weaknesses?
• What is that you have and other candidates don’t?
I am sure these questions sound very familiar to you all. Don’t they make you wonder how they even help the recruiter? More so when it is known that nobody gives honest answers to these questions? After all, who in his right mind will reveal his weaknesses to a potential employer? The candidates will, in all likelihood, give answers that the interviewers wish to hear.
“The purpose of this question is to check both the likes and dislikes of the candidates with regard to the work. It helps us decide whether the person is fit for the job or not”
We asked some HR leaders about the relevance and purpose of these questions, and the kind of responses they expect from the candidates.
What do you dislike about work?
There are a couple of reasons to ask this question. This gives the hiring managers an insight into the candidate’s knowledge of the job description (JD). This also reveals what aspect of the work appeals to the candidate(s) the most and the level of passion for the job.
If the candidates applying for the role of B2B salesperson, for instance, admit that they do not like writing too many mails, the likelihood of them being considered for the job reduces. Therefore, the candidate’s response is judged in the context of the job.
“To know the competencies of the person you can talk about their past performance review”
“The purpose of this question is to check both the likes and dislikes of the candidates with regard to the work. It helps us decide whether the person is fit for the job or not,” shares Nilay, CHRO, India Shelter Finance.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
The response to this question reveals whether the person is preparing for a change in the future, and whether the candidate is change oriented or static.
The candidates’ response will also speak volumes about their level of ambition, and whether they desire to take on more responsibilities or higher positions in the organisation.
“I think this is a very critical question which tells you whether the person has a mission in life. It helps in the progression plan of the candidate,” says Ganapathi Subramanian, head-HR, Lucas Indian Service.
If a candidate does not give a favourable answer to this question, it may not have a very strong impact on the job. Still, it depends on the context and the kind of candidate the organisation expects to see occupying the position.
“I try to avoid this question as much as possible. I know that candidates will camouflage their responses and tell us what we want to hear”
What are your weaknesses?
Nobody really wants to share their weaknesses. Generally, HR leaders do not like asking this question directly. But the only reason they do is to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates and get a fair idea of the skills they possess.
A more common way of finding this out is by giving the candidates a situation or asking them about one of the biggest failures in their lives. The responses will offer an insight into the candidates’ expertise and shortfalls. Again, it is the context that matters here. If the candidate is found to be lacking in an area that is critical to the success of the role, the chances of selection become slimmer.
“I try to avoid this question as much as possible. I know that candidates will camouflage their responses and tell us what we want to hear,” mentions Sudhansu Misra, CHRO, Tata Coffee.
What is it that you have and other candidates don’t?
The purpose of this question is to discover the competencies and selling point of the candidates. While many HR leaders say that it is a question they prefer not to ask, the truth is that many hiring managers do pose this question.
“To know the competencies of the person you can talk about their past performance review,” suggests Subramanian.
While it is clear that these questions do serve a purpose, there is no guarantee how honest the responses will be. After all, the candidates only have to rehearse their answers a few times and word them such that the interviewers like what they hear. It is not difficult to make up convincing stories, but very difficult to determine their accuracy.