Avoiding Leading Questions During an Interview

Ask more open-ended questions to avoid leading the responses of interviewers.
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Leading questions are biased and can elicit the wrong responses from both hiring managers and job candidates. These questions may reflect negatively on you and eliminate you from consideration for a job. Whether you are asking the question or answering it, phrase it so you generate an open-ended response.

Did the Last Person in This Position Get Fired?

    Inquiring about the status of the previous person in a job is an appropriate question for an interviewee to ask, but phrase it carefully. This closed-ended question essentially permits only a "yes" or "no" response. The interviewer may also take offense to the way you phrased the question, knocking you down a few rungs as a viable job candidate. "Is this a new or replacement position?" is a better way of stating the question. You may then ask what happened to the previous person.

Do I Need a Degree and Experience for This Job?

    In the rare instance when you may not have a job description for an open position, it is appropriate to ask if a degree and experience are required. But you don't want to limit possible responses to the question. "What are the qualifications for this position?" or "What do you consider to be the ideal candidate for this position?" are better questions. Once the hiring manager responds, you can then relate your educational background and experience.

Is the Management Style Authoritarian or More Team-Oriented?

    Asking whether the company has authoritarian or team-oriented managers doesn't allow for the possibility that the organization practices a more consultative or democratic philosophy. Consultative management takes into account the interests of employees; a democratic approach encourages greater participation of employees in decision-making processes. A better way to phrase this question is, "What type of management style does your company utilize?"

How Much Does the Job Pay?

    It is best to wait for the hiring manager to ask about your salary expectations. However, it is a fair question for a job candidate to pose on a second interview if the subject has not come up. Instead of asking for a specific figure, inquire about the salary range for the position. That way you get the interviewer to commit to certain parameters for compensation.

Can You Contribute to the Success of Our Company?

    An interviewer who asks an applicant if he can contribute to a company's success leads the candidate toward a more closed-ended response – yes or no. Applicants may agree that they can help the company without offering examples. "Tell me how you could contribute to our company's success," is a better way to phrase the question since it compels the interviewee to provide specific examples of how he can have an immediate impact.

Do You See Yourself in Management in Five Years or in a Non-Supervisory Position?

    Hiring managers should avoid providing potential answers within the context of their questions. This severely limits the information you can gather from a job candidate. Instead, ask, "Where do you see yourself in five years if we hire you?" You can better evaluate an individual's aspirations with this open-ended question, and also get an idea of their communication skills.

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