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Avoid Asking Candidates These 7 Questions During an Interview

Posted by Leah Koh on Jan 29, 2020 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights, client, Hiring Tips, icsNYC

As a hiring manager, being aware of how you present yourself while facilitating an interview is extremely important. Because you represent your company, you must always carefully consider your conduct during interviews.

However, as long as you actively work on your interview etiquette, you can uphold your company’s reputable image and avoid the consequences of poor interviews. One way to improve your interview process? Try to avoid these seven topics in your interview questions:


1. Salary

Asking about a candidate’s current salary brings discomfort and is potentially illegal. Several states across the U.S. (e.g. Delaware, New York, etc.) already consider asking salary details as a discriminatory practice. However, if the candidate tells this information without your urges, then you will not be in trouble. Regardless, this detail is not worth the distress it may bring, so the simplest route is not to ask a question about it at all.

2. Ethnicity or birth certificate

Questions like when did the candidate arrive in America and if he or she can provide a birth certificate to verify are awkward questions. If the objective of asking them is because of diversity, you must be careful and be well aware that it is a sensitive topic. By putting candidates on the spot, your interview will likely go awry. If you need to verify their work authorization, you can plainly ask, “What is your work authorization?” and then move on. 

3. Medical conditions

By digging too far into a candidate’s well-being and health, you are risking yourself with a lawsuit. When interviewing potential candidates, avoid questions that involve disabilities, medications, physical or mental illness, and even pregnancy. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination, so you must actively seek ways to mitigate the chances of awkward encounters and potential lawsuits for bringing up medical conditions.

4. Childcare

Never bring a candidate’s personal life into the office. When you ask about their children or their need for childcare, you automatically create a sense of mistrust and defensiveness. Women with children are already at a disadvantage in potentially being hired, and questions like this will make them feel further disadvantaged. If you truly need to know more about their availability, directly ask whether they will be available during your regular working hours. If they say yes, then no further questions are necessary. 

5. Past lawsuits/complaints filed

Most of the time, the ulterior motive of asking whether a candidate has filed for workers’ complaint or a lawsuit is to discover if he or she will cause headaches. However, consider as well that if the lawsuit filed is because of discrimination, the employee has all the right to put the situation under due process. Further, it is illegal to retaliate against employees for reporting harassment or filing workers comp. You also do not want to suggest that your company is hiding anything or that workers face a toxic culture filled with consequences for reporting harassment. Hence, it’s better not to ask questions along this route under any circumstances. 

6. Age

With ageism being rampant in the hiring industry, directing questions toward age is uncomfortable for candidates. Even if your motives are pure, you never want to be mistaken as discriminatory. Avoid asking about age because one, it is rude, and two, it is potentially illegal. If you want to get a feel of whether they will fit in with your company’s culture despite the generation gap, ask about their hobbies and interests. This will give you a glimpse into their lives and what they do in their spare time. Age is a number, but their attitude speaks more about their character.

7. Financial status

Finally, you should never ask a candidate about his or her financial status. This will make the person feel like you are intruding into a personal matter. However, if the job post (e.g. manager for your personal finances) requires you to ask such questions, make sure that you are not violating the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996 or the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Get Expert Advice

If your company struggles during the interview process, contact Infinity Consulting Solutions today. We can partner with you and help you facilitate interviews that are worthwhile for you and your future employees.

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