"What's your greatest weakness?" 

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

"Why did you leave your last job?"

These are all standard, generic interview questions. I've asked them. I've had people ask me. You've asked them. And everyone lies in their answers because if they told the truth, the hiring managers and recruiters would reject them. 

What a ridiculous game.

I mean, imagine if people were honest. Jill Wohlner, founder and CEO of Underpin, a tech recruiting company, did. Here's what she wrote:

Wohlner concludes that, while these are all valid reasons, they wouldn't fly in a job interview. 

Let's think about that for a moment--why should we reject valid (and true!) reasons people left jobs in favor of the platitudes. ("I was seeking growth and development, and your company seemed like a great place for that.")

Likewise, when we get into people's greatest weaknesses, we don't really want to know. Well, we do want to know, but you won't hire someone who says, "I'm a bit of a micro-manager" or "I'll get every project to you at least two days late, so please build that into your timelines."

And, I believe Covid taught us all that none of us have a clue where we'll be in five years, so let's just stop asking, shall we?

Try asking questions that you actually want the answers to. Like:

  • What attracted you to my company?
  • Tell me about a challenge you faced at work and what you did to overcome it.
  • Are you interested in moving into people management, or are you more interested in growing as an individual contributor?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you handled the fallout.
  • Can you describe your management style?
  • Can you describe the type of manager you prefer working with?

These types of questions will get you the answers you want without the lies and trite sayings. And try being honest yourself when you interview candidates. If you're a micro-manager, distant boss, or a bit disorganized, speak up. Let them know what they are getting into.

After all, the last thing you want is to hire someone who will quit within the next six months because it was a bad fit.