Releasing interview questions before the interview

What do you think?

Didn't find your answer?

Good afternoon guys, 

A little Friday question for you all: 
John Lewis and Waitrose have shared that their job applicants will now be able to see interview questions before an interview in “an attempt to make the process fairer”. 

However, others have argued that this will remove authenticity from people’s answers and candidates might be able to get friends, family or ChatGPT to write their answers. 

This decision has come from the fact that vacancies are still higher than pre-Covid levels by almost a million. 

So would you consider sharing your interview questions with job applicants beforehand? Do you think this approach would help or hinder firms finding the right talent? 

Have a good weekend all and looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
 

Replies (15)

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By Tax is always taxing
26th Apr 2024 16:40

That works on the assumption I write my questions before the interview... I don't.

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By Paul Crowley
26th Apr 2024 16:45

Daft idea
Questions will arise based on answers given.
Questions on prior experience cannot be standard as the prior experience is not the same
Only an idiot would think that questions need to tied down and identical.

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By D V Fields
26th Apr 2024 19:08

Why not make it even fairer and tell them the answers you want them to give too!

I’ve given them “homework” in terms of Excel based questions ahead of the interview with very interesting results.

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By FactChecker
26th Apr 2024 20:13

Your question, Molly, pre-supposes that we are meant to take the 'announcement' at face value ... whereas it's obviously just cheap publicity (for which you and other media have fallen).

* There's a shortage of applicants - so JL et al are desperate for bodies.
* Quality barely comes into the equation - so interviewing is just to weed-out a few

No-one with any experience of large scale recruiting could possibly believe that what is proposed will lead to 'improved answers' (because there should be no pre-determined 'correct answers' unless asking the questions is just a sham exercise).

Whether you're recruiting for specific skills/experience, or for personality profiles and aptitudes, or for trainability, or availability, or just downright cheapness ... the recruiter (of which interviewing is but one component) should be looking for *how* candidates respond - even making allowance for individual behavioural foibles.

It seems unlikely to me that for the likely roles here, testing is a major or even valid part of the process. It's effective within highly technical spheres and (if correctly set up and supervised) for assessing potential - such as civil service assessment centres - but it has no obvious place in the jobs being advertised here.

Bottom-line?
It's a publicity stunt ... free marketing for the brand + adds a few brownie points for managing to burnish some diversity claims (somewhat obviously retrofitted as a post-hoc justification) + it might lead to MORE APPLICANTS (which is the main purpose).
[Of course whether those extra applicants will be the type sought is another matter!]

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Replying to FactChecker:
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By Paul Crowley
28th Apr 2024 15:56

Agree publicity based on made up premises.
A shortage of applicants means the pay is too low.

Come to us, the interview can be completed by your mates.

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By Paul Crowley
28th Apr 2024 15:57

'This decision has come from the fact that vacancies are still higher than pre-Covid levels by almost a million.'
Evidenced or opinion?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By 17RDR12
30th Apr 2024 16:11

Seems absolute nonsense to me:

"The estimated number of vacancies in January to March 2024 was 916,000, a decrease of 13,000 or 1.4% from October to December 2023."

"Total estimated vacancies were down by 204,000 in January to March 2024 from the level of a year previously, although they remained 120,000 above their pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) January to March 2020 levels."

https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employment...

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By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
29th Apr 2024 08:29

It's not just any old job they're applying for. According to their About Us page:
"The John Lewis Partnership's 83,000 Partners own the leading UK retail businesses of Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners..."

It's innovative thinking... award everyone a partnership, from Captain Peacock to Mr Humphreys; and allow applicants to crib the interview sheet. No wonder the customer service in Waitrose is so bad!

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
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By Paul Crowley
29th Apr 2024 09:21

Sharing answers sounds like a certain crooked accounting firm. Firms get fined for that sort of stuff

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Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
By Charlie Carne
30th Apr 2024 12:20

I'msorryIhaven'taclue wrote:

It's innovative thinking... award everyone a partnership, from Captain Peacock to Mr Humphreys;

That's just one rank difference :) Perhaps everyone from Young Mr Grace to Mr Harman!

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By Michael Davies
29th Apr 2024 11:25

Years ago I had a job interview with BEA (yep that long ago );one question was “do you love your mother ?” and another was “do you prefer a drum or violin”.There were about 50 or so questions of that ilk,on a written question sheet.I was offered the job (having failed the programming part of the interview process );but ran a mile from them ,after that experience.

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Replying to Michael Davies:
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By DJKL
29th Apr 2024 12:38

"If I asked your friends what they thought about you, what would they say?"

That was a big eight firm question at the university milk round, 1985, still not sure what purpose it had, I did not get offered training contract with them, in hindsight for that I am grateful.

Most interviews I have been at as the interviewed have been limited, not sure what they really add unless interview touches on testing the meeting skills of the subject or their technical knowledge, as the last one was circa 1994 (Miller Group) I suspect I am very out of date re approach.

As an interviewer I was /likely still am useless, was too pleasant though perhaps these days my world weary cynicism that has developed as I age might make me more competent.

Frankly in my role I now think the way to operate is outsource everything and have no staff and I expect before I retire in 2026 ,that is what we will do.

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Replying to DJKL:
By Charlie Carne
30th Apr 2024 12:32

DJKL wrote:

"If I asked your friends what they thought about you, what would they say?"

That was a big eight firm question at the university milk round, 1985, still not sure what purpose it had, I did not get offered training contract with them, in hindsight for that I am grateful.

That was a very good question as it encouraged the candidate to think of themselves as they are seen by others, rather than stock replies of "I'm intelligent, hard-working", etc.

Michael Davies wrote:

one question was “do you love your mother ?” and another was “do you prefer a drum or violin”.

This sort of question is asked as it is totally unexpected and requires the candidate to think on their feet. The subject matter is unimportant.

On a similar note, I was talking recently to a marketing person in their 20s about vocational degree courses versus a degree in a wider academic subject and I told them that, if I ran an agency and was presented with two candidates equal in all other respects but one did a degree in 'advertising and marketing' and the other in geography or theology, I'd pick the latter every time. I want someone who has been taught how to think, argue, research and be self-reliant. Vocational subjects (other than medicine, and possibly law, which are very academic by nature) are less likely to stretch the student in wider areas and I can teach the vocational stuff on the job in the first few months. And the same holds true for me if I were hiring a new graduate trainee accountant.

I have given prospective interviewees a short task to prepare in advance of the interview and then discussed it in depth with them to ascertain that they really understand it and it wasn't just cribbed from somewhere, but the bulk of the interview is entirely fresh for the candidate. I have a set of questions that I've pre-written, based partly on the job requirements and partly on each interviewee's CV but then I think of ad hoc questions as the interview progresses, based on their answers.

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Replying to charliecarne:
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By DJKL
30th Apr 2024 13:22

I support the point re non vocational degrees, but that is because I have the ultimate one, an MA from Edinburgh in mixed, mainly Arts Faculty ,subjects, so I would say that( per Mandy Rice Davies)-English Lit, Philosophy, History, Mathematics (which was considered Arts faculty for some reason) and Economics I & II courses (as outside courses). Totally useless when seeking employment, hence I later took a PG in accountancy etc, but not bad training for playing Trivial Pursuit (though Sciences/Geography a bit ropey.

Re the question I was asked, it sort of begs the question how modest one is, it also is possibly not a fair question across say the entire UK , or internationally, as there does seem to be regional differences re how much blowing of one's own trumpet is acceptable.

If you asked it in say Sweden I think you could have replies that understated how good those candidates were, certainly Edinburghers, in my experience, often have a more introverted outlook than say Glaswegians (I know I am stereotyping), similar differences can be perceived to arise re those from Aberdeenshire, Borders, Western Isles etc- not so gallus- and I suspect there are similar regional differences down south that may make the question easier for those from X rather than those from Y.

Answering now, with age and experience , I would probably say "Always stands his round", the ultimate compliment, though not sure the implication of regular alcohol consumption would now be an employment selling point.

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By The Brick
30th Apr 2024 11:55

I've run interview processes before where they are given a brief a few days before and then asked to present it/research it. That is akin to what we do in our day jobs - research an answer to a question to provide a good overall answer to the client. So, it's not a new idea at all and can actually work very well for the right role.

Conversely, I've conducted interviews where all we did was discuss TV/sports/something naff all to do with accountancy - because I like to hear them speak, judge their underlying character and see if the "will be able to talk to clients" test is passed. Interview for style/character, test (in advance if you wish) for basic competency & you can teach the rest!

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