What Not To Ask a Job Candidate in an Interview

employeescreeningblog.com, employment screeningWhether you’re new to interviewing job candidates, or have been at it for years, we’ve got some news for you: the same old questions won’t do.

The purpose of the job interview is to find the person who can do the job you need to fill, fit in with your company’s culture and stay out of trouble. Not all questions will get you to that goal.

A few questions that employers should not ask:
“Tell me about yourself” – This question is just too general to result in the information you need to know to hire the right person.

“Would you like some coffee?” – Don’t distract yourself or the interviewee from the task at hand. If they say “yes” out of sense of politeness or obligation, you’ll then have to find out about cream and sugar, fetch a mug, make the coffee. Skip the beverage service and get to the interview.

“Do you have your references?” – Again, this detracts from the interview and puts the focus on former employers, friends of the family or semi-influential community members that the candidate might want you to know all about. Save this question for later in the process.

“Where to you want to be in five years?” – There are few good answers to this question. If the candidate answers with “in your chair,” or “president of the company,” is that really what you want to know? They can’t say that they’d like to stay for two years and then jump ship to their buddy’s startup. And if they say they’d love to be in the same job, in the same cubical, doing the same work, what does that say?

Of course, there are questions that can get you into big legal trouble, specifically those that lead to claims of discrimination. Employers are not allowed to ask family-related questions, such as asking a woman how many children she has, or about an applicant’s religion, national origin, marital status, race, disabilities, health or physical abilities, or age. Asking whether an applicant is a U.S. citizen is also illegal.

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