Tag Archives: interview best practices

5 Interview Questions to Avoid

Interviewing job candidates in the 21st century can be tricky. Even with the best of intentions, it’s possible to veer off into areas that can land you in legal trouble. You’re probably aware of the obvious no-nos such as race, disability, gender and religion, but there are five other interview questions to avoid.


1. Do you have children? / How many children do you have?

You may be compelled to ask some variation of this question in order to determine a candidate’s availability or ability to travel. While it may seem innocuous, it’s definitely off limits. Many states have laws in place that prevent employers from inquiring into marital or familial status.

A better approach is to ask if a candidate could work overtime if needed, if they have any scheduling restrictions or if they could travel on occasion.


2. Have you ever been arrested?

It’s common for employers to want to know if a candidate has a criminal past. A sizable portion of companies perform background checks, which is completely fine. However, you’re not allowed to outright ask if a person has ever been arrested. This can potentially get you in some hot water.

What is allowed is to ask if a candidate has ever been convicted of a crime. The difference in these two questions may seem trivial, but the key issue is that it’s illegal to ask about a person’s arrest record.


3. Where were you born?

Employers are not legally allowed to inquire into a person’s country of origin. This would be classified as nationality discrimination and can quickly open a can of worms. An acceptable question would be, “If you’re hired, can you provide proof of your legal right to work in the United States?”


4. What is your native language?

Again, this could be deemed as nationality discrimination, so this is something that should never be asked outright. If you’re curious if a person speaks more than one language, you could ask something like:

“The position you’re applying for demands an individual who speaks more than one language. What languages are you fluent in?”

This is a better way to gather the information you need without being discriminatory about it.


5. When did you graduate?

You may be inclined to ask this question as a means of making a connection or breaking the ice. But as you probably already know, you’re not allowed to base your hiring decision on a person’s age. This can backfire if someone files a lawsuit because they feel they were turned down on account of their age.

Although you’re not outright asking someone how old they are, inquiring into their graduation date from either high school or college is definitely out of bounds.

Some employers unwittingly get themselves in trouble by asking the wrong questions. With litigation running rampant these days, it’s really important that you do your homework on this matter. These are five interview questions to avoid at all costs.


Best Practices for Interviewing Employees

Interviewing job applicants is something that doesn’t always come naturally to hiring managers but is nonetheless a vital component of operations. While being adept at conducting interviews doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll always find A+ employees who mesh perfectly with your company, it does increase your chances of making the right hires and putting together a team of qualified professionals. Let’s now go over the importance of conducting a good interview and some best practices involved with this process.


Why You Need Effective Interviewing Techniques

Your employees are the lifeblood of your company — and being able to assemble the right team is critical for the long-term success and sustainability of your business. You can liken staff to the foundation of a building. When there’s a solid foundation, the rest of the building will be strong and vice versa. When you understand the principles of effective interviewing, you’re better equipped to filter out applicants to find the ones who are best suited for your company.

Not only will they have the right hard qualities such as industry knowledge, pre-existing skills and meet educational requirements, but they’ll also possess the right soft skills like adaptability, work ethic and communication so they’ll fit in seamlessly with your culture.


Adequate Preparation

Like many areas of business, proper preparation is essential for success — and you’ll want to take the time to get yourself ready for the interview process. This typically starts with reviewing resumes and pre-screening candidates based on a predetermined set of criteria such as previous experience, skill set, educational background, etc.

Because interviewing can be inherently time-consuming, this will ensure that you only interview highly qualified candidates who meet the requirements listed on your job description. You’ll also want to have a general idea in mind of what soft skills you’re looking for in an employee. For example, maybe it’s important that a candidate is a team player and able to handle high-stress situations.


Ask the Right Questions

The questions you ask a candidate will often make or break an interview, so asking the right ones is of the utmost importance. While there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for choosing which questions to ask, you’ll want to learn about certain aspects of each candidate:

  • Reliability
  • Level of professionalism
  • Self-awareness
  • Compatibility with your company
  • Desire to work for you
  • Work ethic


To truly get a sense of what a person is all about, you’ll want to ask many open-ended questions where they have to elaborate and go into detail about themselves and their background. If you need some ideas, you can check out Monster’s list of 100 potential interview questions. Also, be sure to take notes along the way so you can remember details.


Avoid Asking the Wrong Questions

It’s equally important to steer away from questions that are considered illegal in the interview process. These are questions that could be deemed discriminatory and could get you in some hot water where you may end up with a lawsuit on your hands. Here are some topics you’ll want to avoid:

  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Disabilities
  • Religious affiliation
  • Pregnancy
  • Family situation


 Assess Candidates

Finally, you’ll want to objectively examine each candidate and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. Using a candidate evaluation form can simplify the process and should give you the best odds of choosing the right employees.

By utilizing best practices for interviewing employees, you can systematize your approach and make the process more efficient. In turn, you can optimize this area of HR and build a strong and capable team.