Hiring managers don’t know interview questions

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Apr 28

Here is something to remember about interview questions: most hiring managers lack training on how to interview. Nor trained on the best interview questions to ask during an interview. Or even how to set up a job description that defines the work done in the job to build interview questions.

If they are lucky, hiring managers received training on questions that are illegal to ask. If they are lucky.

The weird interview question is OK

For many, we are better at answering interview questions than managers are asking them. Think about it. A person has to interview many different people in many different companies to get a job. Plus they have to interview one or more people before ever getting to the hiring manager for an interview. And then often have even more interviews with others besides the hiring manager to get hired. Thus, we hear many different types of interview questions that a hiring manager would never think of asking.

The hiring manager has to interview many candidates – but usually asks the same questions. So a candidate thinks some questions coming out of a hiring manager interview are weird – and that should be OK. Hiring managers don’t hire that many people. And in this environment, they are better at telling people about layoffs than they are about hiring someone for a position they have.

The illogical interview is OK

Because the hiring manager doesn’t hire that many people, you will often experience an interview that is disjointed, wandering and illogical. It’s not a conversation that a hiring manager often has. The hard part for an experienced candidate is they often fail with a hiring manager who is inexperienced at asking interview questions. The candidate can’t follow the logical progression of the interview – because there isn’t one.

The key here is to look at each question as a separate entity not necessarily connected into a conversation. Every question is a conversation onto itself. Focusing on that quality allows you to stay in the moment.

The key is comfortable

In many ways, the hiring manager is under the gun more than you are – the manager has to hire someone to work with and help carry out their goals. Screwing up the hire says more about the manager than the candidate hired. By expecting the weird, the illogical and the meandering conversation, you can stay focused on showing the manager why there are only three answers to any interview question.

Showing that you can fit within the manager’s organization and management style – if it matches your own – will give you a significant advantage to other candidates. Other candidates fail from the interview questions asked by an inexperienced interview manager whom the candidate thinks is an expert interviewer.

There are great interviewing managers, of course. But too often we assume – because we need or want the job – the hiring manager is skilled at interviewing. When, in fact, the opposite is true.

What are the weirdest interview questions you’ve been asked?

  • […] to learn about culture and management style. Besides, people like talking about their work and this many people are not expert interviewers so talking about their work is easier than […]

  • […] that “past performance does not predict future performance” stuff simply doesn’t matter in the interview. It doesn’t matter that your former (or current) supervisor is prejudiced, hypocritical, […]

  • […] ‘Hiring Managers Don’t Know Interview Questions,’ from the Cube Rules blog, focuses on reassuring candidates that their impressions are correct: many hiring managers really don’t know what they’re doing. Don’t worry too much  about the occasional weird question, awkward silence, or meandering conversation, they say. The key, they stress, is that there are really only 3 basic interview questions that you have to answer. They all boil down to: Can you do the job? Will you love the job? And, what people do you like to work with? If you can bring anything the hiring manager asks back to this, they say, you’ll be golden. (Still, it couldn’t hurt to start training hiring managers to be more talented as interviewers!) […]

  • Chris says:

    Weirdest Question during an interview: If I were to go out to eat lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and what would I eat? What exactly was that to determine?

  • Rick Saia says:

    Any manager who feels completely at ease in letting someone go needs a sensitivity transplant. Maybe that would help him or her “tune in” better when interviewing a prospective employee so that the interview becomes more of a flowing, rather than disjointed conversation.

    • Scot says:

      I don’t think any manager feels at ease letting people go. I said that I think they are better at doing a layoff than an interview — they’ve had more practice at it in this recession. Plus, companies train managers how to do a layoff to ensure they don’t get sued.

      But the lack of practice doing interviews, or even the preparation for the interview by the manager, is telling. Hiring is a high priority skill if the manager wants to achieve their goals. Yet companies don’t train managers on how to do interviews or how to select the best candidate.

      Thus, candidates are better at answering interview questions than managers are at asking them.

  • Scot says:

    Hi Joe…I didn’t say “comfortable,” I said they were “better” at it than doing interviews. ;>))

    But, I agree that one would hope that laying people off will never be comfortable.

  • Joe says:

    Interesting insight. But I don’t think anyone can get ‘comfortable’ telling someone “you’re fired”.

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