What You Can’t Ask Candidates in a Job Interview

What You Can’t Ask Candidates in a Job Interview

When browsing for interview advice, you’re likely to come across the Dos and Don’ts of what to say when applying for a new job. Rarely, however, do you find guidelines for those giving the interview. Learning how to conduct an interview from the opposite perspective is important for any business owner because it determines how – and it what direction – your business will grow.

Outlining questions to ask during an interview is imperative, but so is defining what not to ask. Here are some general points to steer clear of while conducting an interview.

Age. When it comes to the interview process, experience should be the deciding factor – not a candidate’s age. If you believe an interviewee is a good fit for your business, then their age shouldn’t necessarily matter. Avoiding asking a candidate’s age also prevents any sort of bias in this respect. In today’s market, for example, it’s unfortunately all too common for employers to discriminate against hiring a millennial. It should go without saying that it’s important to stay away from basing hiring decisions off of various stereotypes, especially in this case, because most businesses need new, young faces in their workplaces in order to add another perspective to current work processes. 

Ethnic background. Unless there is a specific issue with a candidate’s citizenship status that would prevent you from following through with the correct hiring processes, ethnic or racial background should not be a deciding factor in taking on a new employee. There’s no reason for you as an employer to ever ask about this during an interview. 

Marital status and orientation. Along the same lines, asking about an interviewee’s marital status or sexual orientation is personal information that shouldn’t concern. It’s always a possibility that the candidate may have some questions or concerns regarding schedule flexibility if they have a family; but unless they volunteer this information, it’s best to base your decision off of how well the interview goes.

Religious and political affiliation. Once again, your job as an employer is to hire capable team members that will further the growth of your business. Structure your interview around other points that will give you a sense of a candidate’s character without having to ask about religious or political affiliation. If you were in charge of hiring a campaign manager for a political party, then this would be the obvious exception to that rule. Nine times of out 10, however, this information shouldn’t matter for your purposes. 

Stop and reflect for a minute about how much time potential candidates put into preparing for an interview. As an employer, the same should go for you. Yes, it’s all about finding your rhythm and defining what values you believe are important to further your firm’s success, but you can effectively execute this process without asking an interviewee too much personal information. When it comes down to it, adding skilled, qualified individuals to your firm’s team should be your main goal for the hiring process. If a candidate is a good fit and you think you’ll work well together, the rest will come naturally.

Editor’s note: Check out Sullivan Tankersley’s companion article "The Top 5 Questions to Ask a Candidate in a Job Interview."