Formal interviews are “so yesterday”

Formal interviews are “so yesterday”

The on-boarding and interview process is something that the world is yet to perfect. But one common thread amongst thought-leaders on the topic is that formal interviews are “so yesterday”!

What’s the goal of the interview?

The goal of the interview, however it plays out, is you want to understand the true nature of the person coming on board – their personality, how they cope with pressure, how they communicate, and how you will get along with the team. So then, the goal of the interview should be directly aligned to these goals.


“Where do you see yourself in five years?”


Nothing grates me more than being asked this question, or seeing it on a list of questions about to be asked of a candidate. This may seem direct, but it’s one of the dumbest interview questions EVER. Do you answer saying you want to be in management? What if the interviewer is threatened by that? Do you say you just want to be good in the role you’re applying for? Does that say you have no aspirations of development? Do you say, “Hopefully not still in this same job”? Which is the honest answer, of course. You have no idea what the motivation behind the question is; it’s too ambiguous. And as an interviewer, understand that what you want to hear from this question is much discovered through conversation or better questioning. Just don’t ask it.



So what should I ask in interviews?

Most traditional interview questions have a set of pretty learnable easy-way-out answers. The best interview questions are ones that invoke that “Huh!”-moment. The ones that challenge the interviewee to think of an answer, but not necessarily think of how they should be answering it. App giant Slack have a bunch of great questions they use to weed out the narcissists in the process. These questions really aim at someone’s ability to learn and self-reflect.

    • What’s a personal opinion you’ve had and changed in the past year?
    • What’s the best (or worst) advice you’ve gotten?
    • Tell me a story about how luck played a role in your life.


Google famously challenges interviewees with hypothetical brainteasers meant to expose someone’s thought process in action. These are pretty gnarly and out there, and the actual answer really doesn’t matter. All they are is more cryptic (and fun) behavioural questions. They are in-fact easier, as they are more pointed than “Tell us about a time you were stressed at work? What did you do and what was the outcome?” Seems broad in comparison, doesn’t it? Your questions don’t have to be as weird as Google, but you are allowed to be creative.

Google sees directly how someone processes a thought. And that is an important character in what they need onboard. So think about what it is that you need onboard, and write questions specific to that. And please, think about how you would answer it yourself. And if you find it dumb, or a challenge to determine what the interviewer is really looking for, scrap it. Formal interviews are “so yesterday”.


If you need advice on how to conduct or perform in an upcoming interview, please reach out to a team member or email [email protected]