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6 Questions NOT to ask at interview

Have you ever interviewed someone for a job and they were truly terrible? Or truly great? Either way, interviewers tend to discuss candidates – and not just to decide on the best person for the job. But how often do those same job interviewers chew over their own performance? Review the questions they asked? After all, as a job interviewer, you’re there to help each candidate give their best (their best is what you’re interested in recruiting, right?).

A recent report from Hyper Recruitment Solutions suggests that 8 out of 10 interviewers have asked inappropriate and even possibly illegal questions …

Why interview questions are important

Put simply, your questions determine what the candidate can tell or show you regarding their experience, knowledge and skills. Yes, a skilful candidate can adapt their best ‘material’ to fit, up to a point. But, as an interviewer, what you ask makes a huge difference.

And then there are problematic questions, like those that indicate you’re assessing the candidate on something other than experience, knowledge and skills – something like race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other difference that is irrelevant to being able to do the job. Did I say “problematic”? I meant illegal.

But let’s be clear. This isn’t about pampering candidates with ‘easy’ questions. Be tough, dig deep, challenge … just keep it focused on the actual job requirements. That way, whatever a candidate’s individual characteristics, they’re being fairly assessed for a job with the same opportunity as every other candidate.

So … what shouldn’t you be asking?

Drawing on the recent survey, the following seem to be the most common interview questions to avoid:

  1. Asking whether the candidate has children (asked by 56% of hiring managers).
  2. Whether the candidate is married (51%).
  3. Where their accent comes from (46%).
  4. Whether they grew up outside the UK (45%).
  5. Anything to do with parenting (40%). (Unless you can absolutely prove it’s relevant AND you’re asking the same question of all candidates.)
  6. Whether they’re planning to take maternity or paternity leave (77% of hiring managers didn’t realise this question could be illegal - it could).

A final finding of Hyper Recruitment Solutions’ survey is that 47% of the hiring managers had had no formal training on what to ask as an interviewer. Draw your own conclusions.

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