Job interviews aren’t like they used to be. Once upon a time, it was possible for an interviewee to effectively feel ambushed by a strange or unexpected interview question. Today, there are countless career sites on the Web that provide a full rundown of any and all possible interview questions. Plus, in this era of robust focus on company culture, more and more interviewers are asking questions like, “What color crayon are you?” Job applicants practically expect to get off-the-wall questions like these. It’s simply very hard to surprise them.

So what does this mean for your recruiting? What it means is that, if you really want to evaluate someone’s talent, you need to shy away from these easily rehearsed questions and instead ask things that really prove ingenuity and creative, critical thinking.

Some suggestions:

  • First, I recommend looking at and other career sites to see what some of the most common and predictable questions are. You probably know some of them just off the top of your head—where do you see yourself in five years? What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? The list goes on. Scratch these questions altogether; there’s no sense wasting time with something applicants can rehearse for so easily.
  • I’d recommend avoiding questions that effectively ask the applicant to repeat information from his or her resume. You know where they went to school, where they worked before, and so on. Why waste time asking for a recap of these things?
  • Be careful about historical questions, too. Asking an applicant how he or she dealt with a problem at one company, ten years ago, may have little to do with your company and its unique culture.
  • A better approach is to interview for problem-solving abilities. Ask your job applicant how he or she would identify and solve problems in the first week on the job. Ask for a step-by-step process or just some best practices. You can even provide the applicant with the summary of a real problem he or she will face on Day 1, and ask for a potential solution.
  • Ask the applicant to do a little forecasting—looking forward to the future of the company or simply the future of the industry, predicting trends and offering their vision.

As a speaker and author in the leadership space, I know that recruiting is where great company cultures are built. Step up your recruiting game with better interview questions—today!