Questions you should and shouldn’t ask during an interview
Preparing for an interview is just as important for a hiring manager as it is for the candidate. You must put the time and research into developing a well-articulated series of questions to best understand the personality, skills, education and past experience of each potential employee. If you ask the wrong set of questions, you could waste your time with an under-qualified candidate, squash your reputation as a human resources professional and even shed bad light on the company.
To ensure you don’t make the mistake of poorly preparing for an interview, read through this guide of questions to avoid, as well as questions to consider asking your candidates.
Questions you should never ask
Coming up with a variety of questions for an interview can be a difficult task – you can’t ask whatever you want. Questions considered “bad” often include ones that poke at legal issues, and others simply aren’t relevant to getting to know if the candidate is qualified for the job. Here are a few examples of questions you should never ask:
1. I see we went to the same high school – what year did you graduate? This question may seem harmless, but it’s an easy way for you to determine the candidate’s age, which could bring up age discrimination issues in the future, according to The Balance.
2. Do you have any disabilities? According to The Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not allowed to ask questions that reveal whether a candidate has an unknown mental or physical disability.
3. Are you religious? If so, will you need to take time off for any religious holidays? You cannot base your decisions to hire off of someone’s religious beliefs or practices, so Monster.com stated that any questions regarding religion are off the table. Even something as simple as “What church do you belong to?” is prohibited.
4. Are you married? A question like this can be off-putting to candidates, and could put you in jeopardy for being accused of harassment if the question is asked out of context or in a suspicious tone. Avoid asking questions about home life, even if it seems like you’re just striking up small talk.
5. Do you have children, or do you plan to? This question doesn’t have anything to do with the candidate’s ability to fill the position, and it can come off as discriminatory if you don’t end up hiring the candidate (regardless of the answer.)
“It’s just a bad idea to ask those questions,” Peter Moser, a labor attorney and partner at a Boston-based law firm told The Huffington Post. “It can be used as evidence of discrimination, and why would you ask that if it’s not relevant to the job?”
Questions you should ask
Avoiding the prior questions is critical, but you should also consider asking these nontraditional, unique questions during the interview to get the conversation flowing and best understand your potential candidates, as advised by HubSpot:
- Explain a time you set difficult goals – did you achieve them? If so, how?
- Can you tell me about your past relationships with former team members?
- What would you consider your most positive career accomplishment?
- Do you think it’s better to complete a project late but in perfect condition, or mediocre and by deadline?
- Can you explain something to me within five minutes that most people would find confusing?
Take this question-asking advice and roll with it during your next set of interviews. You’ll save yourself – and the company – time, money and resources during the hiring process.