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Four interview questions not to ask

April 1, 2010
by Bernie Reifkind
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Let's get to the point. Interviewing is an uncomfortable process no matter what side of the desk you're on. No one ever hires anyone unless they believe that revenue can be generated as a result of that hire. Right?

As a healthcare executive recruiter, you might imagine the countless conversations that I have had with my clients-looking to fill job openings-and my candidates-looking for jobs.

After an interview, I follow up with both the employer and the candidate to find out how the interview went. First I ask how long the interview lasted. Obviously, if the interview is short then chances are great that it was a disaster. If an interview lasts longer than an hour, that is a good sign of mutual interest.

There are so many questions that are asked by both candidate and employer as each party learns about the other. Some questions by employers are almost comical.

Here are the top four most annoying interview questions to a candidate:

  1. What are your weak points? Is someone really going to tell a stranger something incriminating? Would someone really say, “I come to work late sometimes” or “Sometimes I spend the entire day surfing the 'net”? Of course not.

  2. Where do you see yourself in five years? If the candidate wants the job badly enough he or she is going to almost certainly lie and say something politically correct such as, “If it's with your company, then where you feel my abilities will be of most benefit to the organization.” Yeah, right. Most people have no clue where they see themselves tomorrow!

  3. How would others describe you? Well doesn't that depend on who the “others” are? If the “others” are friends and family, they'll say great things-they would even lie for the candidate. If “others” are coworkers, then each one would have a different description because each has had different experiences with the candidate-and they, too, would lie for him or her.

  4. Why do you want to work here? Wow, how original. Another completely annoying question that does not provide any useful information in getting to know someone at an interview. Is anyone going to tell the truth and say “I'm unemployed and I'm broke-I couldn't care less who I work for” or “I want to work here because I've been turned down by every one of your competitors”?

For some great responses to these difficult questions, feel free to contact me.

Bernie Reifkind is CEO and founder of Premier Search (, a healthcare executive search firm in Los Angeles. He can be reached by e-mail at or (800) 801-1400. Long-Term Living 2010 April;59(4):41