Navigating the Interview Minefield: Questions to Avoid for Employers & Candidates Alike
Interviews are a critical part of the hiring process, allowing employers to assess potential hires and for candidates to learn more about the company and role. However, not all questions are fair game. Some can lead to legal issues, while others can simply leave a bad impression. In this article, we’ll explore the top questions that should not be asked in an interview from both the employer’s and the candidate’s perspective.
For Employers: Questions to Avoid
As an employer, it’s crucial to avoid questions that could be seen as discriminatory or invade a candidate’s privacy. Here are ten questions you should steer clear of:
- What is your religious affiliation? This question can lead to discrimination claims and is generally irrelevant to a candidate’s ability to perform a job.
- Are you married? Questions about marital status or children can be seen as discriminatory, particularly against women.
- How old are you? Unless ensuring a candidate is old enough to legally work, this question can lead to age discrimination claims.
- Do you have any disabilities? It’s illegal to discriminate against a candidate because of a disability. Instead, ask if they can perform the essential functions of the job.
- What is your race? This question is irrelevant to a candidate’s ability to perform a job and can lead to discrimination claims.
- Do you drink socially? Questions about drinking habits can be seen as an invasion of privacy and are generally irrelevant to job performance.
- Have you ever been arrested? It’s more appropriate to ask if a candidate has been convicted of a crime, as arrests do not necessarily lead to convictions.
- What country are you from? This question can be seen as discriminatory. It’s more appropriate to ask if a candidate is authorized to work in the specific country where the job is located.
- Do you have children? This question can lead to discrimination claims, particularly against women.
- What is your political affiliation? This question is generally irrelevant to a candidate’s ability to perform a job and can lead to discrimination claims.
For Candidates: Questions to Avoid
As a candidate, it’s important to avoid questions that could make you seem uninterested in the role or company or that could come off as presumptuous. Here are ten questions you should avoid:
- What does your company do? This question suggests you haven’t done your homework. Always research the company before an interview.
- Can I change my schedule if I get the job? This question can make it seem like you’re not willing to work the required hours.
- Did I get the job? This question puts the interviewer on the spot. It’s better to ask about the next steps in the process. Even worse is the corny, “when do I start?”
- What is the salary for this position? While discussing salary is important, the first interview is usually not the appropriate time. We suggest waiting until a job offer is made or the employer brings it up.
- How soon can I take a vacation? This question can make it seem like you’re more interested in time off than working. That said, at the offer stage, you will want to discuss any vacations that have already been planned.
- Who is your competition? This question suggests you haven’t done your research. You should already know the company’s main competitors, but you can ask if your research on their main competitors is correct. It will show you did your due diligence. Plus, it can lead to the company sharing even more about their organization, who they compete with, and current/future initiatives.
- How often do you give raises? This question can come off as presumptuous. It’s better to ask about opportunities for growth and advancement.
- Will I have to work long hours? This question can make it seem like you’re unwilling to put in the necessary time to get the job done. It’s better to ask what the average week looks like for someone in this role on their team.
- How did I do? Again, this question puts the interviewer on the spot. It’s better to ask for feedback in a follow-up email.
- Do you monitor emails or internet usage? This question can raise red flags about your use of company time and resources.
In conclusion, employers and candidates should approach interviews carefully, avoiding questions that could lead to legal issues or leave a bad impression. Both parties can make the most of the interview process by focusing on the skills and qualifications needed for the job and gauging if they will enjoy working with one another (culture/team fit).