Tag Archives: interview strategies

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.


What Type of Interview Process is Best for Your Business?

Interviewing best practices are one of the most important aspects of recruiting. When you’re able to implement effective interviewing techniques, it helps you filter job applicants and find individuals who not only possess the necessary skill set, but who also fit in with your company culture and will gel with existing staff members. Let’s take a look at some popular techniques to help you decide on the ideal type of interview process for your business.


Behavioral Interview

This technique relies upon the belief that how an applicant handled things in the past will be a good indicator of how they will handle things in the future. Rather than relying on hypothetical scenarios, a behavioral interview requires the applicant to discuss previous job experiences. For example, you might inquire into how a person dealt with a stressful situation at a previous job and what they did to keep things on track. Conduct a behavioral interview by asking questions that start with the following:

  • Describe a situation at a former job when…
  • Give an example of a situation when…
  • Tell me about your…

You can find specific examples of questions you can ask applicants here.


Problem-Solving Interview

During a problem-solving interview, applicants are posed a hypothetical problem to see how they would respond and what their thought process is like. For instance, you might present them with one of the more challenging problems that your business has faced and ask how they would handle it. During the interview, you should examine the process they would use to break a large problem down into manageable steps until they ultimately come up with a solution.


Work Sample Interview

If you’re looking for specific skills and qualities within a candidate, this is a great way to assess them. During a work sample interview, interviewees must provide you with samples to prove that they are suitable for a position. An example would be asking a candidate to point out a section on their portfolio that demonstrates that they’d be capable of performing a certain task if they were hired.

Now that we’ve covered some effective formats, let’s discuss some common interview process methods.


Face-to-Face Interview

This is probably the most standard way to interview job applicants and is a good way to get an in-depth feel for their skill set, personality and traits. The most formal way to conduct a face-to-face interview is to simply have a candidate visit your business at a scheduled time. For this to be successful, it’s best if you only have a limited pool of applicants because it can be somewhat time-consuming.

Another technique that’s becoming more popular is meeting a person for lunch or drinks. This is more casual in nature and can eliminate many scheduling conflicts. It’s also helpful for getting a feel for what a person is really like because of the relaxed setting, so you can tell if they would make a good representative for your company.


Phone or Video Interview

If you’re looking to streamline the process, you may want to consider conducting interviews over the phone or through video chat. This is a great way to interview several applicants and tends to be more convenient for both parties. If you’ve got a busy schedule and have a larger pool of applicants, this could be right for you.

Choosing the right interview process is critical for assembling a staff of knowledgeable and capable employees. The end result should be a stable foundation of workers and great team chemistry.

Photo by Samuel Mann