Words are more important in the day-to-day life of an HR manager than we may give them credit for – they form an essential part of almost everything we do.
Sometimes the words we choose can dilute a potentially toxic workplace situation before it escalates out of control. Sometimes it is the words uttered by another that form the basis of a disciplinary procedure. Other times we are focusing on written words of contracts, recruitment adverts and the corresponding glut of resumes.
However, even HR managers can (very occasionally) pick the wrong words.
Writing at Forbes.com, former HR senior vice president and head of humanworkplace.com, Liz Ryan questions some of the most common interview questions starting with the classic “what are your weaknesses?”.
While this may seem to be a legitimate way to assess a potential hire’s self-awareness, Ryan suggests that the interview should be a two-way street and that it is “arrogant and rude” to ask a candidate to share their weakness with them. (As an over-used question it is also perhaps unlikely to get an honest answer but one that has been rehearsed.)
Next on her hate list are: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Why should we hire you?” and “What’s your USP?”
Ryan says that the common theme of these interview questions and the many others of similar ilk are that they presume the interviewer’s control over the candidate. She argues that taking that stance will not get the best candidates but those that are “beaten-down and desperate.”
So what would be a better approach? Ryan’s advice is to aim for conversational and organic interviews.
That makes sense doesn’t it? We’ve all been on the other side and faced questions that have made us wince. If we hire people based on the ability to feign honesty while giving us the answers they think we want to hear, we’ll lose them anyway, to politics!
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