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At some point in your career you will have to interview and hire a resource. When the time comes make sure you do not end up asking stereotypical, unnecessary questions; they will not provide you with any ‘real’ information about the candidate and will just end up wasting time.

Some questions/statements to avoid include:

1. “Tell me about yourself.” This is perhaps the worst thing to ask a candidate; it shows that you have not bothered to read his/her CV. The person sitting across from you is likely to view this as a sign of how much, or how little, importance you give your employees, and how you treat them.

2. “What is your family background?” A person’s family background cannot be a measure or an indication of how well they will perform in their job. A question like this merely exposes your personal bias. It should not matter if the candidate comes from a drug baron’s family or a scholar’s – good work performance is the requirement, ancestry is not.

3. “What are your weaknesses?” It is hard to give an unbiased answer to this question so most candidates come up with a trait that makes them look good. Would any of us be willing to tell an interviewer that our weaknesses include coming late to work and missing deadlines?

4. “Are you planning to have children soon?” There is no justification for asking this question – discriminating against women on grounds of maternity is illegal. So unless your organisation has day-care facilities, such questions indicate that you are a misogynist, even if you are a woman.

5. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The recession has made this question redundant. There were hundreds of executives who saw themselves becoming CEOs in the near future but ended up being laid off. When you are not sure where you will be in five years’ time, why ask the interviewee?

— Sadya Siddiqui
The writer is an HR and branding consultant and can be contacted via LinkedIn.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 14, 2012.

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