What questions should you ask? What questions can you ask? What questions should you never ask?
The interviewing process is obviously is a critical component to hiring the right person. However, most managers are given little or no training in how to interview and have to develop their skills through trial and error. That can be costly in more ways than one. Not only does that mean you might not be finding out the information you need to know, it also leaves you open to discrimination claims and potential lawsuits. Not only should a manager know the following information, but if co-workers in other departments are also interviewing your candidate, make sure they know as well.
When you are interviewing the candidate, stick to pre-planned questions throughout the interview. From a legal perspective as well as properly evaluating talent, the best interviews are those where the interviewer asks every candidate the same questions. By doing so, you can compare the candidates accurately.
The more methodical and systematic your interview process is, the more likely it will provide you the information needed to make good judgments about individuals’ fit for the position. The key is taking accurate notes of their answers so you can evaluate them and documenting in writing each step of the interview process.
For a successful interview, “DO” this:
- Describe the interview process and let them know that you will be taking notes or using a tape recorder.
- Avoid asking questions that can be answered with “yes” and “no”.
- After you ask a question give the candidate a chance to elaborate. Silences can provoke additional responses.
- If the candidate doesn’t have an answer on a question or seems nervous, go to another question. You can always come back to the question later once the person is more comfortable.
- Be careful that your body language or verbal responses are not telegraphing to the candidate the answer you are looking for – remain neutral such as, “I see, how so, tell me more, interesting,” etc.
- LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN! Do not tell stories or go off on tangents, stick to just asking the questions. Conversation can come later.
- After you have asked all of your questions, ask the candidate what questions he or she has for you.
- Know when to bring the interview to a close. Don’t go on too long or drag it out.
- Do not document such things as young, old, good-looking, or any type of physical attribute.
- Do not shorten an interview that is ordinarily scheduled for a certain amount of time. If the interview routine lasts an hour, do not shorten it. It could later be used in a discrimination suit.
- Do not imply long-term employment. The interviewer may defeat the “at-will employment” by statements made in an interview.
- Do not inquire about children or ask if childcare arrangements have been made.
- Do not ask the candidate’s age, what year he or she graduated from school.
- Do not ask for a photograph.
- Do not ask if the person owns a home or how long a person has lived at a particular address.
- Do not ask, directly or indirectly, information about social organizations, religious affiliations (do you go to church?) or clubs to which the candidate belongs.
- Do not inquire about the candidates feelings toward working with co-workers of different races.
- Do not ask the candidates to specify where they or their parents were born. You may ask them if they are able to verify that they can legally work in the U.S.
- Do not ask questions about marital status, number or age of children, pregnancy, or future childbearing plans.
- Do not ask for a maiden name.
- Do not ask the candidate to discuss a physical condition or disability. Do not ask if the candidate as ever been treated for a specific condition or if they have been hospitalized.
- Do not ask candidates if they have ever been treated by a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist; if they have had a major illness in the last five years; or how many sick days they took off from work.
- Do not ask if they are taking any prescription drugs; if they have ever been treated for a drug addiction or alcoholism.
- Do not ask if they have ever filed for workers’ compensation insurance.
- Do not ask the candidate about the type of discharge from military service.
- Do not ask about arrest records. You can ask if the person has been convicted of a felony but cannot automatically exclude people with convictions unless it is appropriate to the job.
- If the candidate has a visible disability (e.g. uses a wheelchair), or volunteers information about a disability, the interviewer may not ask questions about the nature of the disability, the severity, the condition causing the disability, any prognosis, or if the candidate might need any special leave because of the disability.
- The interviewer may describe the specific tasks or functions of the job and ask whether the candidate can perform these functions with or without a reasonable accommodation. Interviewers can ask questions related to essential job functions. If a candidate asks about an accommodation, the interviewer can ask what the candidate thinks he/she needs to perform the job.
And most importantly, write down your impressions of the candidate right after the interview. Otherwise you could forget important details, especially when you are interviewing many candidates over a period of time.
Here’s a fun Infographic on the strangest interview questions ever!