Interviewing 101

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Attracting Employees

Off limits interview questions

You would think after all these years, interviewing would get easier for applicants. It can actually be a breeze if the interviewer has been trained AND you have a set of specific questions that relate to the job to ask the applicant. It’s surprising to say, some executives and hiring managers are STILL asking interview questions that have been off limits since the EEOC deemed them discriminatory.

So what are some of the questions that are off limits? (not a comprehensive list) 

· What’s your race?
· What’s your nationality?
· How old are you?
·Are you pregnant or plan to get pregnant anytime soon?
· Do you have any disabilities?
· What is your religion?
· Have you ever been arrested?
· Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
· Are you married?
· Do you have any children?
· Is English your first language?
· When did you graduate high school?
· Do you have any debt?

A recent financial executive was interviewing with a Divisional CEO. During the interview the CEO asked the individual, “So how old are you?” At this point you need to know the CEO was looking for someone to succeed him when he was able to move up to the corporate CFO position. It was still wrong – the question is off limits. Period.

I think the CEO missed an opportunity to think outside his comfort zone and actually consider hiring someone that was a few years older than himself. The more experienced financial executive could have hit the ground running and worked with younger staff in the group to groom one of THEM to be the ultimate successor. Most of you think one way and don’t see the possibilities of a longer term solution. This Division CEO can only ‘hope’ his younger successor doesn’t get tired of waiting for the corporate CFO to retire. AND who is to say if the younger staff of this Division CEO isn’t disenfranchised because they don’t see the potential for upward movement.

Its a slippery slope in so many ways.

As I stated in my post the Art of Interviewing, a best practice is to set up the interview day where each executive knows what questions they will be asking the applicant. Don’t leave this to chance and let hiring managers ‘wing it’ because it could land you in a law suit.

Use behavioral interview questions that focus on a specific incident or point in time the applicant can think back on and give you a step by step of how they behaved or handled the situation. You are trying to alleviate interview bias by understanding specific behaviors from the applicant. Using behavioral interviews in addition to a job benchmark and a validated pre-hire assessment can get you the best hire for your role. Stooping to discriminatory tactics to cut out a group of people you may not like because of your own bias only shoots you and your company in the foot.

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