Megan Prescott March 29 3 min read

These Are the Top Questions NOT to Ask in an Interview

Interviewing is difficult enough while making sure not to cross over legal boundaries. Unfortunately, there are a number of questions that pose enormous risk to your business because of real or perceived discrimination. Interview questions need to focus on skills, experience, strengths and weaknesses, motivation and passion. Avoid everything about someone's identity and personal life. Here's a great list of things you should avoid at all cost:

  • Age
  • Medical Information
  • Height & weight
  • Race, ethnicity and color
  • Gender of sex
  • US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission
  • Citizenship
  • Religion or religious beliefs
  • Disability
  • Marital, or family status, or pregnancy

As a company, protect yourself against candidate claims of, “I didn’t get the job because...” in which they disclosed something about themselves from one of these protected categories. Withholding an offer must be based on lack of relevant skills or experience, absence of passion for the type of activities included in the role, or a communication and work style that doesn't align with the existing team a.k.a. poor culture fit. 

Great interview questions typically blend skill based questions (right or wrong answers) with situational and behavioral questions that can only be answered in narrative form and have levels of complexity. For example:

  1. “When you are conducting an audit of a client website, what are you looking for and what types of things do you document?” This can be considered a right/wrong answer question.
  2. “Tell me about the moist recent audit you did. Specifically what did you find, what did you suggest the client do, how did you deliver that feedback and what action did you take to help improve the website?” This can be considered a situational answer question.
  3. “Imagine that your client had reacted negatively and was unhappy with the audit and the suggested courses of action. How would you have handled it? What would you have done to improve the situation with the client?” This can be considered a behavioral question to see how they would act in this scenario.

    Team alignment is critical when interviewing candidates. You are interviewing the candidate and the candidate is interviewing you. Prep your team by sharing the candidates resume, submittal paragraph, previous interview notes, top skills and traits you are excited about, along with any questions you plan to dive into. Can your team describe your company culture, or what has kept them there?

Last but not least, have fun! This is an exciting time for the team to grow and you will be speaking with incredible candidates within the ecosystem. Have ice breakers, get to know them outside of work--this could be someone who you work with for years to come and could become your “family!”

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