Video: How Many Interview Questions To Ask?

 

One question I get a lot is how many interview questions to ask when you're interviewing candidates. Five to six is about the right number, assuming your interview is about an hour long. 60 minutes is the median time that most interviews go right now. If you can do longer than that, great, that's super, but most people do about an hour-long interview.

Now, if you take that 60 minutes, and look realistically at how many interview questions to ask, figure ten minutes at the beginning is going to be rapport building, pre-ambly sort of stuff. And ten minutes at the end, that's usually going to be "So what questions do you have for me?" That leaves you about 40 minutes in the middle to really get to know this person, and that’s where we need to focus when deciding how many interview questions to ask.

Now, some people go in and they bang through interview questions, there is no limit to the number of interview questions to ask. They have 15, 20, of these things. The problem is when you do that, the candidate doesn't really give full, complete answers. Here's why that's problematic: most reasonably intelligent people can lie about most things for at least a minute. If you started to ask me about a topic of which I had no idea, say, for example, what's the implications of quantum physics on the gravitational forces of a black hole? I don't honestly even know if that's a real question. But assume it is, I could start and go "Well, you know, that's a really fascinating question, and there have been many times in the course of physics where we've had significant paradigm shifts, and while we knew about gravitational forces of black holes, the real question is what happens with quantum physics and the implication for that?" I can ramble on like this for a good 60 seconds, and if I use the words enough times it might actually start to sound like I have some clue as to what I'm talking about.

When you're doing a job interview, you want to make sure that you get this person to talk to you for at least two, two and a half to three  minutes, because you need to get them past the line where they can keep lying about something. And that’s going to influence the number of interview questions to ask. I could talk for a minute rambling about nothing, but make me talk for two minutes, well now it becomes pretty clear that I have no idea what the implications of quantum physics would be on the gravitational forces of a black hole. I have no idea whatsoever. But you need to keep me talking for at least two to two and a half minutes to figure that out.

So when thinking about the number of interview questions to ask, if you go into an interview with a good five or six really open-ended questions, you're going to force this person to talk to you for two, two and a half to three minutes. And when you start doing the math on that, you'd really like to get them to talk to you for four or five minutes. If you start having people talk to you for even six minutes and you've got six interview questions to ask, that's 36 minutes right there. Give yourself a little bit of time to actually ask the question, and you've eaten up 40 minutes. But if you go into that with 30 some odd interview questions, or 20 interview questions, you're going to get one or two minute kinds of answers, and that is just not long enough to reveal the truth about a candidate.

Related Posts

Posted by Mark Murphy on 08 May, 2017 Hiring for Attitude, Video | 1 comment
Previous post Next Post

Comments

  • Michelle Natale - May 30, 2017

    What if a hiring manager wants to pepper in some technical skill questions during the interview. How many questions should be asked and how much time does it go over (given 60 minutes) if we are to ask 5-6 Brown Shorts questions as well?

Leave a comment

Stay in touch

Call us

We'd love to hear from you. Call us at 1-800-814-7859 and we'll be happy to answer any questions you have.

Latest posts

  • Quiz: How Do Your Time Management Skills Stack Up?
    We all suffer from the “busyness disease.” More than half of working Americans say they don’t have enough time to do the things they want to do. The scarcest resource professionals and leaders have is their time (not money or people or influence). Time. And it’s why the top frustrations of professionals and leaders are typically not having enough time, struggling to balance priorities, and reacting to everyone else’s priorities. Take this quiz to see how your time management skills stack up!

    Read more →

  • You Got Promoted To Manager, And A Coworker Is Mad: Here's What To Say
    New ManagerCongratulations on getting that big promotion to manager! But, what happens if you had to compete against one or more of your colleagues to win the job? And now they’re mad because you won and they lost? Well, I’ve got bad news and good news. The bad news is that you can’t really control whether a few of your former coworkers are mad at you for winning the promotion.

    This article originally appeared on Forbes by Mark Murphy, Founder of Leadership IQ Congratulations on getting that big promotion to manager! But, what happens if you had to compete against one or more of your colleagues to win the job?... Read more →

  • Video: Coachability

    Coachability: Interview Tips
    One of the key interview tips comes from the number one reason why new hires fail. When they fail, it is Coachability, or rather, a lack thereof that is why they fail. Coachability basically means they can't anticipate feedback, they can't accept feedback...

      Coachability: Interview Tips One of the key interview tips comes from the number one reason why new hires fail. When they fail, it is Coachability, or rather, a lack thereof that is why they fail. Coachability basically means they... Read more →