one man interviewing another

5 Interview Questions You Should Never Ask

The art of the interview is a delicate one, indeed.  Many HR people don’t frequently conduct hiring interviews and while they may be recruitment professionals, anyone can get rusty if they don’t practice their skills.

It’s also possible that some interviewers forget where they are and that the process of interviewing a candidate for a job can be a bit of a minefield.  That minefield is peppered with laws governing discrimination, among other things.

This post shares with you our top 5 interview questions you should never ask.

1. When Did You Graduate From High School?

You and the candidate may have attended the same school.  While that’s heartwarming, asking the year they graduated is the wrong question.

Age discrimination is very real (and very illegal), regardless of the candidate’s age.  It may be unconscious or conscious, but it’s still discrimination when the age of an applicant governs your decision as to whether to hire that person.

While finding common ground is a relationship builder, you’re interviewing a candidate.  Wait to build the relationship until you’ve found a keeper.

2. Where Are You From?

You’ve detected that the candidate has an accent which is unfamiliar to you.  You ask where they’re from.

By doing so, you’ve stepped over a line.  All candidates are from wherever their resume says they’re from.  There’s no need to ask, when you have the documentation in hand.

Asking where a candidate is from can open the door to suspicion.  You have asked the question out of sheer curiosity, but if that candidate comes up short, it’s that question they’ll remember and it may provide grounds for a claim of discrimination.

3. Are You a US Citizen?

This is very similar to the question above.  But even more problematic is that this question will have been asked in the application.  Establishing the legal right of candidates to work in the USA is a preliminary and fundamental part of the hiring process.

The question should already have been asked.

4. Do You Attend Church?

We would hope this would be an obvious “no no” question, but some people can’t help themselves.  If you’re one of those people, please understand that asking this question is (once again) not within your legal right as an employer.

Perhaps if you were hiring for a job in a church, or for a faith-based organization the question might be valid.  But in most cases, you’re stepping over a line.

5. What Didn’t You Like About Your Last Job?

If ever there was a question that set the stage for a negative interview environment, this is it.  It’s obvious that the person you’re interviewing is seeking change, or they wouldn’t be there.

Frame the question differently.  Ask “What are you looking for in this role?”.  Give the candidate a chance to say something aspirational, instead of something negative.

Precedent HR is setting the standard for 21st Century recruitment and retention tools.  We help you find the right people and keep them aboard for the long haul.  Contact us.

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