20 September 2018
10 questions to NEVER ask a candidate

Despite the fact that people have unlimited access to free information at their fingertips and see negative headlines hitting the press about candidate experience, people are still getting the interview questions completely wrong. Rather than having a conversation with the person, it turns into a question and answers session with no conversation or questions asked about what the candidate had just said. It becomes a checklist where the interviewer reels off a list of questions, shakes hands, thanks them for coming in before showing them the door. How is that building rapport with the candidate? How is that showing the candidate a glimpse of company culture and insight into the type of people that work for the company? It is the interviewer’s role, just as much as the candidate’s to make a good impression during the interview. Both parties are in the hot seat during this time.

It may be obvious in this day and age but these are the things you should NEVER ask a candidate during an interview. These will be sure to land you in trouble:

  1. Have you ever been arrested?
  2. Are you married?
  3. How old are you?
  4. What country are you from?
  5. Do you have any kids/plan on having kids?
  6. What is your childcare arrangement?
  7. How long is your commute?
  8. How many sick days did you take in your last job?
  9. What do you do in your spare time?
  10. Do you drink or smoke?

Time and time again, we hear the same questions asked in interviews, but are they giving you the answers you really need or are they open-ended? A quick Google Search for job interview questions brings up some of the most common questions asked, but maybe it’s time to step away from them and be a bit more creative in order to find the perfect match for the job.

  • What can you tell me about yourself?

Instead of asking this open-ended question, ask them a question that intrigued you about their CV that got your attention in the first place. This shows that you have taken an interest into the candidate and builds a relationship with them.

  • Why are you leaving your current job?

This question may lead to a lie or an awkward response. Instead, ask them about the biggest challenge of their current role or what they enjoy most out of their day. This will allow you to understand what they like or dislike and if this applies to the current job on offer.

  • What’s the project you’re most proud of?

Again, this can lead to a broad open answer that may not give you any insight into the candidate. Instead, ask them to explain about how they completed a task with multiple different teams. This shows teamwork, but also leadership.

  • What’s your biggest weakness?

The dreaded interview question for most candidates. You are asking them to think of something bad about themselves yet put a positive spin on it. Instead, ask them to describe a challenge they faced in a role and how they handled it. This will highlight problem-solving skills, yet still puts them on the spot to think fast.

  • What’s your five-year career plan?

This question can put people off, especially for women who may plan to start a family, but feel they can’t say anything. Instead, ask something like “How does this role fit into your long-term career plans?”

  • What makes you passionate about your work?

Not everyone is passionate about what they do, they may just be really good at it and enjoy the success. Instead, ask them what makes them passionate about a company. The answer will tell you about their culture priorities and if it fits in with yours.

  • Are you a team player?

Of course, everyone is going to say yes. But what does the answer actually give you? Instead, ask the candidate what their ideal team dynamic is. This will provide you with an answer to if they value a team or like being on their own.

  • Sell me this pen.

This is obviously only relevant to a sales role, but we hear it time and time again. Instead, ask them how they would handle a common step back that your team currently faces. The answer will prove if they’ve done their research, and it will give you an idea of their persuasion skills if they were on a call.


Nobody wants to feel stressed out, put on the spot, or tricked during a job interview. After all, you wouldn’t want to experience that in your day-to-day job, so why do we demand it of candidates? Instead, think of questions that relate to the individual candidate’s CV and the challenges that they may face during the role if they were successful. This will give you a much clearer indication if the person is right for the role along with finding out a little more about them.

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