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“Forced-Choice” Interview Questions: AKA The Psychology Of Interviewing

job interview suit
flickr: Alex France

“Are you a team player?” “Do you work well under pressure?” Typical interview questions. And Dr. John Sullivan says they suck.

Why? Because it’s obvious what the answer to these questions are. Who’s going to say “No, I’m terrible under pressure?”

Sullivan recommends asking “forced-choice” interview questions, which journalists might call “open ended” ones. He gives some examples that apply more to hourly workers, but here’s one that struck us as particularly useful: “How many hours of overtime would you be willing to work on a routine basis?”

You could also ask, we gather, “What do you read?” rather than “Do you read newspapers?” or “What are you most passionate about?” rather than “Are you passionate about our work?”

These are different than the behavior-based questions (“Tell me about a time when…”) but still useful. Sullivan suggests using them early on in the process. How do you feel about these types of questions?

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