5 Types of Interview Questions Hiring Managers Should Avoid

There was interest in our previous article Top 10 Interview Questions to Ask at Interviews on types of questions that will help you conduct a powerful interview! As hiring managers, it is unlikely for you to recruit all year round but you need to up the ante as candidates are equally savvy. Here are the types of job interview questions you need to avoid asking as Hiring Managers during job interviews.

With over 18 years of recruitment experience, Citadel Search has inspired many hiring managers to interview effectively and recruit the best fit candidates. The following are the types of job interview questions hiring managers should avoid so as to get the most out of the candidates during that important interview. Here is our richness of experience all put together in this article specially curated and written for you, Hiring Managers!

Job Interview Questions to Avoid Asking

#1 Job interview questions that are too personal

Hiring managers should avoid questions about age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other sensitive topics. Candidates may find it uncomfortable to answer these questions and can easily claim discrimination. Such questions may even be considered illegal, and your company will be viewed in a negative light! Instead, you should stay focused on the responsibilities of the role and avoid any questions not directly related to the candidate’s ability to perform the role.

#2 Job interview questions that ask for opinions or views

Opinions and views are not a good indicative factor of the candidate’s competency during a job interview. An example is “What does it mean to be a successful Account Manager?”. For this question, candidates can give all sorts of answers but it does not mean that the candidates practice these values in real life. Sometimes, there are just no right or wrong answers to opinions and anything under the moon can be discussed. Does one’s opinion tell you the ability of a candidate or which candidate’s answer is better? The answer is no!

#3 Leading Questions

Lead questions use biased language to nudge the candidate towards a particular response. Such questions are problematic because they indicate the type of answers you want to hear as a hiring manager, and candidates may give you dishonest responses. An example of a leading question is “Do you face any problems with your manager?” This question suggests to the candidate that he should say ‘Ooh no, I don’t have problems with my manager. “. It forces a fight or flight mode. Most candidates will tend to avoid answering such leading questions rather than being open and candid in their experience.

Instead, make the questions open and ask probing questions to get a better understanding of a candidate’s personal qualities, skills and experience. Asking probing questions using the CAR (Context, Action, Result) approach not only ensures the breadth but also the depth of answers given by a candidate. Remember to look for specific examples of behaviours or past experiences that the candidate has as past behaviour generally predicts future behaviour. Some starters you can use for probing questions are “tell me more about…” or “Can you explain in greater depth about…”

#4 Hypothetical Questions

Questions that lead to speculation are hypothetical in nature. Imaginary situations are not a strong indicator of a candidate’s potential. If you meet candidates who are good with their words, you may be easily influenced and convinced by what they share. Since there is no form of grading, it is challenging to determine whether the candidates’ answers prove their competency.

Some hiring managers like to ask creative questions such as “If you were to describe yourself as a fruit, what would it be?”. Such questions are indeed unique but it fails to determine if the candidate has the relevant competency for the role. Another common example of a hypothetical question is “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” There can be many assumptions to this question and candidates may tend to give exaggerated or even dishonest answers.

#5 Double-Barrelled Questions

Double-barrelled questions touch upon more than one issue yet allow only for one answer. Essentially, it is about combining multiple questions into one. It can lead to confusion because candidates may be unsure of which one to answer.

For instance, “share with me a time when you were proud of your highest sales achievement”. The words ‘proud’ and ‘highest’ are not interchangeable and the types of words used can give very different types of answers. You may be proud of your sales result but it may not be the highest. Such questions should be avoided because it can lead to inaccuracies when the candidate only answers one of the two questions and it is challenging to indicating which one has been answered.

So, if the candidate has a different view on the two topics touched upon in the job interview question, you as a hiring manager could be incorrectly interpreting the response. To correct a double-barrelled question, simply separate the combined questions into distinct questions.

Staying Relevant

To conclude, always remember to keep your job interview questions relevant to the job. Keep in mind that your objective is to learn more about the candidates and assess if they have the required competencies before recruiting them. Only with the right questions asked, it gives you the chance to better assess the candidate’s suitability!

If you are interested in engaging us as your recruitment partner, do check out our Executive Search Serviceor if you would like to train your hiring managers in Competency Based Interviewing Skills, contact us to have a chat.


For companies who are looking for effective ways of assessing candidates, take a look at our Candidate Assessment Tools.


What other Articles to read?

Our article Good Interview Techniques That Work reveals some of the job interviews that not only made candidates all tensed up, but also was ineffective in finding you your ideal candidate.



  1. Leading Questions: Definition, Characteristics and Examples, from Question Pro, an online survey software and data intelligence blog 
  2. Double Barreled Question: What It Is and How to Avoid It in Surveys, by Nemanja Jovancic from Lead Quizzes, an online Quiz Maker built for Marketers, Jul 26 2019
  3. 170 Hypothetical questions, from Conversation Starter World, created by C.B. Daniels, native US English Teacher in South Korea who wants to share conversation starters with non-native speakers
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