In this extremely competitive labor market, many employers are interviewing candidates to fill open positions. Some companies use outside contractors as recruiters to locate and screen potential job candidates. Others have in-house hiring managers to perform those functions.
Are your hiring managers or recruiters properly trained on the questions to ask during a job interview? If not, they can put your company at risk. They act as agents for your company and if they ask inappropriate questions during interviews, they could expose your company to claims of discrimination based on age, sex, race or other protected categories.
Here are some examples of actual questions posed to members of the Lumen Christi Employment Network during a job interview. Many of these questions are inappropriate, not job related or possibly illegal. The results of this survey of applicants raises the question: Do your representatives have clear guidelines for how to properly conduct an interview that will obtain the information you need to make the correct hiring decision? What standards has your company established to ensure you gather the information needed to make an informed hiring decision?
These questions are too new age:
- If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?
- During an interview with a health and beauty company, a candidate was asked “what shampoo do you use?”
- How are M&Ms made?
- How do you feel about working in a department of all women?
- How much money have you stolen from your last job?
- Give me an example of when you lied, cheated or stole from a job.
- We all procrastinate. Give me an example of how you procrastinate.
- If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be and why?
- Tell me about your family.
- What historical figure would you like to meet and why?
- Did you receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
These questions are somewhat job related, but questionable:
- What was the hardest thing you ever had to do on a job and why was it so hard?
- Why did you leave, lose or quit your last job?
- What have you been doing since you have been unemployed, or since your last job?
- Give me a two-minute summary of your resume.
- What have you done that is not on your resume?
- Give me an example of what you would not be good at doing on this job.
- Why is it taking you so long to find a job?
- What kind of job would you not be good at?
- How would you deal with turnover in your department? (The follow-up question to ask the interviewer is, “Why? Is there a problem with turnover?”)
- Where do you see yourself in five years if you do not get this job and if you do get this job?
Attorney Mark Goldstein of the Goldstein Law Group S.C., said most of these job interview questions are examples of the interviewer trying too hard to be personable, creative or witty, none of which serve the company. First, many companies have long since given up on this approach, finding that it simply did not lead them to the best candidates. Second, to the extent these individuals are serving as agents of your company, make no mistake that they are inviting significant legal exposure to your door.
To protect your company from potential claims of discrimination and project a positive image in the community, you want your representative to be able to collect the information needed to identify the best candidate. To achieve this goal, you need to collect only the necessary job-related information that can defend your decision.
I engaged several highly experienced human resource professionals in this discussion and their suggestions support the need for clear guidance for the individual conducting the interview. This guidance should be in the form of a list of job-related questions that they would like the interviewer to pose to each candidate. There should also be suggested follow-up questions designed to probe further into the candidate’s job experience. It may also be an opportunity to provide this training to any team member who interacts with job candidates.
By taking this proactive approach, the employer is ensuring that each candidate is being asked the same questions and all information being collected will support and potentially defend your hiring decision, should a challenge arise.