When you’re interviewing job candidates for an opening at your company, your questions need to do more than just see if the person is a good fit for your team and the role. You need to make sure you are following all laws when preparing your questions and evaluating candidates during job interviews.
The interview process can be far more complicated than asking questions to determine if the person is qualified for the position. The small talk you make, and the personal, getting-to-know-you questions you ask all need to be carefully planned out to ensure you don’t violate any anti-discriminatory laws during job interviews.
To ensure you are following all employment laws, consider these Dos and Don’ts when conducting job interviews.
What To Do While Interviewing a Job Candidate
Job interviews serve the purpose of ensuring the candidate is the right person for the job. You need to make sure they can do the work and that they fit with your company’s culture. If these are not aligned, then the candidate likely will not work out long-term. To make sure you are hiring the best candidate, you should do the following before and during job interviews:
- Prepare for the interview by reviewing the candidate’s resume and researching their background and work experience. This is legal to look at their LinkedIn profile, review their resume, look at their provided work samples, and get a feel for their skills and qualifications. This will help you create questions to ask them during the interview.
- Ask open-ended questions that allow the candidate to provide detailed responses. While there are restrictions on what you can ask a candidate, it’s fair game if they volunteer the information (as long as you don’t hold the information against them). For example, you can’t ask if they have children, but if you say “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” and they mention they have two kids, then you have your answer. You can then follow up with family insurance benefits you offer, child care credits, etc. What you can’t do is not hire them because they have young children.
- Listen actively to the candidate’s responses and take notes. After an interview, you might forget the key information the candidate provided. Take notes during the conversation so you remember what they said. This is especially important if they asked you any questions that you need to follow up on.
- Provide a comfortable and welcoming environment for the interview. Make the candidates feel at ease. Unless you’re interviewing for a CIA position, this interview is not an interrogation. You should remember that they are evaluating your company as much as you are evaluating them, so it’s important to show them around and let them get a feel for the environment and culture.
- Be respectful and courteous to the candidate throughout the interview process. You don’t want to be rude to a candidate. It’s just not nice, for one, but it can also open you up to potential lawsuits if the person doesn’t get the job and they think you were being cruel or unfair during the interview process.
- Take time to explain the job requirements and expectations to the candidate. This will let you discuss the job in detail so they know what is expected of them and you can determine if they are up to the task. It will also let you lay out requirements so they can make an informed decision about the role.
- Provide an opportunity for the candidate to ask questions about the job and the company. Make sure they can ask any questions they have. This not only gives them the information they need to learn more about the role and your company, but it’s a way for you to see if they did any research on your business and the role.
What Not To Do Candidate Job Interviews
Interviewing potential job candidates is extremely important. It determines who will be added to your team, and what talent they might bring to the role. However, there is also a lot of room for error. Asking the wrong question can land you and your company in trouble. To avoid this, avoid the following during job interviews:
- Don’t make assumptions about the candidate based on their appearance or background. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often companies make a mistake like that. When someone walks into your office for an interview, just stick to the job questions and their qualifications. You can only look at a candidate’s resume and evaluate them on their answers and qualifications.
- Don’t ask questions that are discriminatory or irrelevant to the job. This might surprise you, but you cannot ask personal questions during an interview. This includes, “Are you married?” “Do you have kids?” “Where are you from?” The answers to all of these questions can be used against a candidate. If you pass them up for a job after they tell you they were born in a different country, or they are homosexual or have 10 kids at home, you are opening yourself and your company up to a lawsuit.
- Don’t interrupt the candidate while they are speaking. Be respectful and let them answer the question. This is about you interviewing them, so let them answer the question entirely before you move on.
- Don’t rush through the interview or cut it short. If the interview is running late or you need to go to another meeting, or if you already decided this is not the right person for the job, show them respect and complete the interview. Rushing them out the door could be used against you later.
- Don’t ask leading questions that suggest a particular answer. Let the candidate answer the questions in the manner they choose. If you like them and you need them to provide a specific answer, leading them to it is not the solution. It could result in the wrong hire. And it can be used against you if another candidate finds out you gave preferential treatment to another applicant.
- Don’t make promises that cannot be kept. Even if you like a candidate and you are trying to woo them to your company, making promises during an interview is a bad idea. What happens when you can’t follow through? They might quit, and you have to start the process all over again. Instead, be honest.
- Don’t allow personal biases to affect the hiring decision. This is the biggest factor during the hiring process. You cannot discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, or anything other than their ability to perform the job.
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