Dr. Nicole Gravanga, PHD Sep 22, 2021 6:47:56 PM 10 min read

What Not to Do When Planning and Organizing Interview Questions

The right approach to interview questions defines the hiring process. A poorly organized set of questions can take your interview in the wrong direction, causing you to miss important details and choose the wrong candidates.

Structured interviews can predict performance about 26% of the time while unstructured interviews can do the same only 14% of the time.

Due to the constant lack of time, many hiring managers rush the interview design, leaving important questions out of the strategy. Learning from their mistakes can help you plan and organize interview questions in the most effective way possible so you can be confident in your next hire.

Let's take a closer look at what to avoid when preparing interview questions.

Not Preparing Ahead of Time

Even an experienced interviewer needs to prepare for an interview. All candidates deserve proper undivided attention and an opportunity to show themselves off in the best light. 

The key dangers of failing to prepare include:

  • Unconscious bias — without a structured set of prepared questions, it's easy to succumb to unconscious bias and continue with a one-sided conversation.

  • Bad impression — when an interviewer is stammering and searching for words, interviewees may feel as if they aren't getting due respect and attention. This could turn top talent away.

  • Wasted time — without proper preparation, interviewers may waste time asking questions they already have answers for. As a result, the interview may take longer than necessary, frustrating both parties in the process.

Once such an interview is over, decision-makers may find that they lack sufficient information for choosing the right candidate, or a top candidate may turn down an offer. 

Proper preparation for an interview includes:

  • Figuring out exactly what you are looking for in the candidate. Make a list of qualities, skills, and types of experience.

  • Creating a set of questions that can help you figure out if the candidate satisfies the determined requirements.

  • Reviewing the job description and studying their resume closely to make sure you don't ask questions you already have answers for.

  • Outlining the interview process in order not to waste time and stay on track.

Overall, an interviewer should consider taking advantage of the structured interview model. Otherwise, it's easy to sway off course, succumb to bias, waste time, and fail to collect sufficient information for making the right hiring decision.

Asking the Wrong Questions

More often than not, the interview time is limited. That's why it's imperative not to waste it on the wrong questions. Asking the wrong questions can:

  • Take the interview in the wrong direction — getting back on track will be much harder, especially if there is a time limit. You may not give the interviewee an opportunity to demonstrate their full set of abilities.

  • Steal precious time — asking the wrong questions robs you of an opportunity to ask the right ones. As a result, you can get the wrong impression about the interviewee and fail to collect sufficient information for further comparison with other candidates.

  • Lead to wrong decisions — when you ask wrong or base level questions, you may not be evaluating the candidate properly. Eventually, you could end up overlooking ideal candidates and hiring people who aren't a good fit.

  • Cause legal issues — an interviewer should have a clear understanding of which questions must be avoided during an interview. Otherwise, they may risk violating a variety of laws, including ADEA, ADA, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and others.

Asking wrong questions means making bad hiring decisions. As a result, the company wastes time and money on onboarding unsuitable candidates and faces high turnover rates.

To make sure you are asking the right questions:

  • Prepare a set of questions before the interview.

  • Stick to the interview outline and try not to veer off course with spontaneous questions or tangents.

  • Avoid generic questions and ask only those that can help you unwrap the candidate's skills and experience that are needed for the position you are hiring for.

  • Consider creating a balanced mix of behavioral and situational questions.

  • Make sure your questions are specific. Vague questions turn into vague answers, which are hard to evaluate after the interview.

Try not to create a long list of questions. It can overwhelm the interviewee, force you both to rush the process and keep the candidates from revealing their potential.

Asking Different Questions to Candidates for the Same Position

Asking different questions to candidates who are interviewing for the same position doesn't just make decision-making complicated, it can interfere with your company's DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) practices.

By asking different questions to candidates interviewing for the same position, the interviewer:

  • Risks succumbing to bias.

  • Doesn't obtain sufficient information for scoring and comparing candidates.

  • May have to come up with questions on the spot, thus looking unorganized and unprepared.

Having a clear interview script format can prevent the above issues from occurring. When interviewers ask the same questions to candidates interviewing for the same position, they get an opportunity to score the interview and simplify the decision-making process.

To make sure you get the most out of each interview while upholding equity practices:

  • Ask all candidates interviewing for the same position the same questions. This can eliminate unconscious bias, keep the interview on track, and give every candidate a fair and comparable interview.

  • Always keep an open mind. Don't foster the idea of the kind of person you want for a position (i.e. expectation anchor bias) but instead focus on what the role requires.

  • Use a scorecard for each interview to simplify the interviewing and decision-making process.

The easiest way to make sure you have the right set of questions for candidates interviewing for the same position is to use an interview question bank.

Planning and Organizing Interview Questions With interviewIA

The quality and integrity of the interview process directly depends on the questions you ask. Without proper preparation, it can be tough to ask the right questions, avoid bias, and collect the necessary information.

interviewIA's interview platform helps you plan and organize interview questions by providing access to a robust question bank and useful scorecard templates. By streamlining your interview preparation, these tools improve your hiring process.

For more information, please contact us at any time.

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Dr. Nicole Gravanga, PHD

Dr. Nicole Gravagna is trained as both a neuroscientist and an executive coach. Nicole blends neuroscience, behavioral economics, and organizational psychology into healthy human-centered design that drives business. She is well versed in venture capital and angel investing and is a co-author of Venture Capital for Dummies. Her second book was MindSET Your Manners, a guide for behavior change.

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