Illegal Job Interview Questions to Avoid
Conducting an employment interview is stressful for every party involved. You are looking for the best possible new team member, and the person being interviewed is hoping to make the best possible first impression.
In today’s competitive environment, the quality of your team is paramount to your success. In your enthusiasm to find the right person, you may not think about what you should and should not ask. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) prohibits you from asking questions that might lead to discrimination or the appearance of discrimination.
This sounds easy, but can be hard, especially if you develop an easy rapport with the candidate during the interview. It is natural when getting to know someone to ask about family, friends, education or other off-limits topics, but that can get you into trouble during an interview. [Interested in background check services? Check out our best picks.]
“It’s important to ask the same questions to every candidate you are interviewing for a particular position,” said Shobi Nunemacher, president of Referral Staffing Solutions. “You may have a different set of questions for different positions but when you are comparing two or more candidates for one opening, keep your questions the same.” Looking to outsource your hiring process? Working with a staffing agency can streamline the hiring process.
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Do I need to ask my interviewer questions?
It’s highly recommended to ask your interviewer relevant, thoughtful questions. Doing so will give you a better understanding of whether the position is the right fit for you. It also shows the interviewer that you have a genuine interest in the position. If the time for you to ask questions comes and you let the interviewer know that you don’t have any, it may come across as a sign that you did not prepare or that you’re not taking the position seriously.
Consider preparing a list of five to 10 questions to ask ahead of time. Having a written list of pre-prepared questions will help in the instance that you get nervous and don’t remember what you wanted to ask, or questions don’t arise organically during the interview. With the right questions, you’ll be able to illustrate your knowledge of the company and industry, along with your drive to excel in the new position.
Best questions to ask in an interview
Come to your interview with your questions prepared. Give thought to who you’re interviewing with and what questions would be best suited for them. Beforehand, practice asking at least three questions that demonstrate you’ve thought seriously about what it would be like to do this job.
For example, recruiters will have the best knowledge of company culture, benefits and high-level responsibilities of the job while VP’s or CEO’s are best equipped for questions about the strategy, vision and goals of the company.
Questions to ask about the job
1. Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?
This is a good question to ask the hiring manager. The answer will be important for you to take into consideration as you determine whether or not this job is the right fit for you.
2. What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
Ask this question to the hiring manager or others on the interview panel who you might work with if you accept the job. Their answers will quickly give you an idea of the qualities they hope to see in the person they hire.
3. What’s the most important thing I could do to help within the first 90 days of employment?
4. What are some of the challenges you’ve seen people in this role or on this team encounter?
During your interviews, you want to get a clear-eyed view of what this job is like — why it’s hard and rewarding at the same time. Getting your interviewers’ perspectives on potential hurdles will give you a holistic picture.
5. If I were in this job, how would my performance be measured?
In your interview with the hiring manager, ask this question to get more specific about how you can succeed in this job. The answer to this question will be helpful to you even if you don’t get the job — you may be able to use the insights they share to identify new areas of professional development.
6. What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
7. What other functions or departments does this teamwork with most often? What are the characteristics of a successful collaboration?
This is an important question if the company you’re interviewing with is a large or mid-sized business. Knowing how to collaborate will be a crucial part of your ability to do the job.
8. What does your job look like day-to-day and how would you anticipate working with the person in this role?
Questions to ask about the company
13. What do you like best about working here?
This question can be a casual way to engage your interviewer on a personal level while gaining valuable insights into their experience with the company. If appropriate, be sure to respond to their answer with examples of why you believe this type of environment is a great fit for your personality and working style.
14. Who do you see as your biggest competitor and why?
This question can show that you have an interest in the bigger picture of the company and industry. It can also be an opportunity for you to share that you did research on the company by following up the interviewer’s response with what you found when you looked into this before the interview.
15. What challenges has this company faced in the last few years? What challenges do you anticipate in the coming years?
This is a great question if you’re interviewing with managers or senior leadership. It shows your interest in the performance of the company and can give you insight into the pain points they experience. If applicable, you can follow up their response by any experience you bring to the table that can help with these pain points/challenges.
16. What changes or innovations in the industry are you most excited about?
This question allows you to see how passionate the interviewer is about this company and industry. It also gives you the opportunity to follow up with what excited you the most about the industry during your research or through your past experience.
17. I noticed on your social media channels that you’ve opened several new offices lately. That kind of growth is exciting to me. It made me wonder what lines of the business are part of that expansion?
Formulating next-level questions by asking about something that stems from what you read about the company in the news or on social media shows the depth of your interest in the company.
Questions to ask about the culture
22. How would you describe the company culture?
. Interviewers will often speak to what they like most about the culture, so it’s great to ask this question to multiple people throughout the interview process to get a holistic view of the culture.
23. I came across an interview with your CEO where she touched on several aspects of the company culture. What elements of the culture here do you like best?
Asking about company culture this way shows how you’ve researched the company and its executives. It’s a great way to display a genuine interest in the company and position. This question also shows that you care to understand whether the culture will be a good fit for you and whether you’ll be a good fit for the company.