Chapter 83. Three Questions to Avoid, and Three Questions to Ask During an Interview

Lorezn Cheung

When I was first promoted to technical manager and started hiring, I loved asking “tough” questions. One of my favorites was, “What’s your three strengths and three weaknesses.” Most of the candidates would struggle and couldn’t fully answer the question and performed poorly. I thought I did the smart thing and revealed the true characters of the interviewees, until one time I got an answer: “My weakness is that I am afraid of coldness.” That’s the moment when I knew I screwed up. Not only had I been asking a pointless question, I encouraged people to give “fake” scripted answers. This question especially filtered out the more technical people and kept the people that do only the talking and not much of the doing. Thus, this was the first question I learned to avoid.

Another question I loved to ask was, “Tell me what you do in this scenario.” This question seems common enough and quite sensible; we can see how developers would react in the tough situation. The issue is that this is a virtual situation, does not really relate to real-life situation, and does not dig deeper into the usual role and responsibilities of the individual. People can just tell the story of someone else. Most would not give the real answer at work: “I would google it.” Again, this question seems great at first, but I learned to stop asking.

The last one is the famous Google IQ questions like, “Estimate ...

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