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Hiring Managers: Stop Asking Silly Interview Questions

September 5, 2013

Exhibit A.  Silly Interview Question: If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Anyone who has done their fair share of interviewing has probably been faced with a question like this at one point or another. So, what is the right answer? Should you say a redwood because given the right environment you will be able to thrive and grow to your greatest potential? Or should you say willow because you feel you can sway and adapt as the “winds of change” move the organization?tree

My advice: Find a new organization because if this is the sophisticated tool they are using to hire their employees into the organization, you are likely to have a typewriter issued to you on your first day of work instead of a computer. 

Just as technology is ever-changing, our knowledge of how to gather job relevant, predictive information in the interview continues to develop over time. An interview is considered to be a tool and with any tool its ability to predict performance and turnover is directly linked to the design of the tool and the ability of the interviewer to use that tool. You would not give someone, without any training, a chainsaw and ask them to cut down some trees, would you? But often times organizations hand someone an interview guide (or not even) and say “go find me an employee”. One can obviously see the issue with using either an old tool that is no longer effective or a new tool with an inexperienced operator.

So, here are some tips to make sure you getting the most out of your interview process:

1) Make sure you are using the most sophisticated tool possible.  For example: a tool that is structured, job relevant, and measures both ability and motivation.

2) Make sure your operators (interviewers) are using the tool consistently and in line with common best practices.

3) Always be working to improve both your tool and your operator through  refinement and training.

For more tips and information on how to improve the interviewing process,

download our eBook on the Importance of Training Interviewers:

Importance of Training Interviewers

Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. Steven Jarrett, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant at PSI. He has extensive experience developing, implementing, and validating legally defensible selection solutions for organizations. Steven has worked in a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and education.