If your job description includes interviewing job candidates, here are five questions to scratch off your interview script immediately:
1. What’s your greatest weakness?
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
3. What’s your greatest failure so far?
4. With all the talented candidates, why should we hire you?
5. What would your last boss say about you?
What do these five questions have in common? They all ask a job-seeker to dance and prance and prove to you that they deserve a chance at the job.
Asking people to dance and prance is not a business skill. It has no place in the professional world.
Whether you intend them to or not, these five questions all reinforce the unhealthy and bad-for-business viewpoint that the employer is mighty and a job applicant is nothing.
It is none of our business what a job-seeker’s greatest weakness is.
It is only a cultural belief that people have weaknesses.
What is a weakness, anyway? It’s something that you could be better at doing than you are.
Of course there will always be millions of things you can’t do well — and so what? What’s important is that you know what you are good at.
It is beneath you as an interviewer to ask a stranger such a personal and intrusive question as “What’s your greatest weakness?”
The answer to this question doesn’t help you make a better hiring decision — but it does diminish you as a professional and as a person to ask.
It is ludicrous to ask a job applicant about their five-year plans given that you are not offering them employment for five years or perhaps even five weeks. This question springs from another deep-seated cultural bias — the bias that people with firm plans are more adult or responsible than people without them.
It is not even responsible to make a five-year career plan these days given the volatility of everything. If a job-seeker has a five-year plan, it might include traveling around the globe or doing something wholly unrelated to your business.