Here's something to think about. Why is it, that while there are almost an infinite number of questions that could be used in a job interview, recruiters end up always asking the same old ones? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you want this job? You can expect at least one of these questions to be asked in every job interview, and while, yes, there are good, legitimate reasons why hiring managers are so hung up with using these questions, there are also some, perhaps overlooked, reasons not to.

1. Generic questions force candidates to lie

If job candidates are asked, "What are your biggest weaknesses?" what other choice do they have but to lie and make something up? No candidate is actually going to reveal that they are terrible at working in groups or that they are so bad at math they need a calculator to do simple addition and subtraction.

The underlying issue with many generic questions is that there really are "right" and "wrong" answers to them, or at the very least, a certain etiquette required to answer them that often clouds the truth. As a result, instead of learning more about what an interviewee really thinks, you're really just learning how well they're able to muster up a lie.

2. Generic questions are given prepared responses

It's no secret that job applicants prepare for their interviews. In fact, they're supposed to, and the most basic form of their preparation involves getting acquainted with what the most common interview questions are as well as how to answer them. As a result, all you're getting as a response are eloquent soliloquies that don't tell you much about what candidates really think. You want to hear genuine responses, not artificial ones.

3. Generic questions don't screen for top talent

What's the point of putting candidates through a tough interview where they're forced to come up with responses on the fly? A huge part of it is to see if a candidate really has the critical thinking skills required to excel at the job position. Are they articulate, sharp, cunning, and logical? Unfortunately most common interview questions never let you find out. From questions like, "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" to "Why do you want this job," none of them gets at the heart of identifying who's truly the more capable and talented candidate.

4. Generic questions are well-hated and awkward

If you didn't know this already, you do now. People hate being asked stereotypical interview questions, and it's for many of the reasons I've already mentioned. These questions force them to lie, to give artificial responses, and quite frankly, many of them are just awkward to answer. What's someone supposed to say when they're asked, "Why do you want this job?" Let's be real now. Pretty much everyone is doing is for the money, yet that's no an answer anyone in their right minds are going to give.


I'm not advocating that you avoid all generic interview questions like the plague. They do serve a purpose when asked in the appropriate situation and there's nothing wrong with getting the ball rolling with a warmup question such as "can you tell me a little bit about yourself?" However, try to mix things up more with your questions. Be more unique and creative with what you ask and you'll get more noteworthy responses that'll help you decide who to hire.