Interviewers serve as the company gatekeepers, weeding out unqualified candidates and selecting prospective employees who get the exclusive chance for an interview. As a process of getting to know the candidates, interview questions are helpful ways to ask about the candidates’ educational background and work experience, and to know if they are qualified for the position. But in order to get the right answers, one must ask the right questions and ditch questions that do not reflect on job performance.
Some employers think that being single or married affects one’s attitude and time at work, but this is an old misconception. Who can really say how dedicated someone will be just because one has or hasn’t tied the knot yet? There might be fewer disturbances in one’s personal life as a single, but being unmarried does not automatically make one organized and dedicated to his work. If your concern is the candidate’s ability to travel long distances, then it is better to ask that outright, rather than make assumptions through one’s status.
Instead, ask: What is your attitude when it comes to problems at home or at work? How do you perform a work-life balance?
Besides being illegal, this question has already become a taboo at the workplace. One’s sexual orientation is a very sensitive issue and definitely has no effect on work attitude and performance. Judge the person not on his personal preferences and habits, but on how his personality can contribute to the company mission and culture.
Instead, ask: How can you make the company be proud of you? How can you best exude the values of this company not just in the office, but also in your personal life?
Asking about one’s age is also an illegal question as it has become a discriminatory question. In fact, even indirect questions leading up to someone’s age is prohibited. Older people might feel that they are suppressed from jobs because of their age, and younger people think that their age implies their inexperience. If your concern is the candidate’s ability to update himself with the latest trends and technology, then ask about that. Again, do not make assumptions just by the numbers. An exception is when the age is a factor such as firefighters or police officers.
Instead, ask: Do you like to learn new things? What have you learned recently and how did you do it? How do you cope with changes?
Don’t tread on dangerous territory by asking controversial (and illegal) questions about politics and religion. The interviewer also casts doubts on the company’s open-mindedness and fairness to its employees and to society by asking this question. Ultimately, one’s political sector and religion do not at all influence an employee’s work performance. If you want to ask about one’s religion because of their practices that may affect the work schedule, make it clear with the candidate.
Instead, ask: How do you react when you have a difference in opinion with your co-workers? As a team leader/member, how do you work together as a group?
Mike Hall writes about the hottest news and tips for employers and job seekers. He works with Newton International, a leader in workforce solutions, recruiting and placement.