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Inappropriate Questions Interviewers Need To Avoid (Part 1)

Posted by Thanh Le on Apr 27, 2015 3:08:00 PM

Interviews plays one of the most vital stage of employment process. Therefore, a lot of caution needs exercising. The main role of interviewers is to identify and select the best person for the position on the base of principles of non-discrimination and affirmative action. The following suggestions of changing inappropriate questions into more appropriate ones will help you approach the subject you want to involve your candidates.

Subject: Age and National Origin/Citizenship

Unless candidates don’t state birth year it in their resume, you can avoid asking directly their age to see if they are legally able to do the job. Otherwise, questions dates of attending school, dates of military service, requests for birth certificates is considered inappropriate.
Instead of asking them personal information such as where they were born or where their parents were born, which might be already included in their resume, you may about legal authorization to work in the specific position.

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Subject: Address and Name

Again, if this information is not stated in their resume, a simple ‘What is your address’ is enough. There is no need to ask if they own or rent their home or how long they have lived in their current address.

Speaking of Name subject, there are questions that needs changing.

Should ask: Is additional information, such as a different name or nickname necessary in order to check job references?

Should not ask: What is your ancestry name or prior marital status?

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Subject: Arrest record and Convictions

This is the most sensitive question one can be asked during interview. If the policy requires a criminal background check prior to hire, you can let the candidate know, or else, do not mention it at all.

The same attitude should be applied for asking conviction, you must also state that a conviction will not matter your decision, which is to be based on substantially related questions to the particular job.

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Subject: Credit Rating or Garnishments

In most cases, no question is acceptable since they have little or no relation to job performance.

Subject: Disability

Questions encouraged are ones about knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job requirements.

Should ask: Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job-with or without accommodations?

Should not ask: Do you have a disability? What is the nature of your disability? Have you ever made a worker's compensation claim?


In conclusion, interview questions should be directly related to the articulated position responsibilities and to the candidate’s abilities to perform them effectively. Further, focusing on performance expectations will assist the candidate to make a responsible decision about her/his ability to meet those expectations.

(to be continued)

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Topics: right hiring, recruiting, hiring

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