Ask the Experts: What Questions Should We Ask and Avoid During a Job Interview?

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Question: What sort of questions should we ask and avoid asking during a job interview?

Are your clients aware of the questions they should absolutely NOT ask during an #interview? Keep your clients out of trouble with direction from @RealThinkHR. Click To Tweet

Answer: The questions you ask in a job interview should all be job-related and nondiscriminatory. You should avoid questions that are not job-related or that cause an applicant to tell you about their inclusion in a protected class. For example, if the position requires someone to lift 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day, you should ask the applicant whether they can lift 25 pounds repeatedly throughout the day. You should not ask whether they have back pain or any other physical issues that might prevent them from lifting 25 pounds throughout the day. The latter question would be discriminatory.

Protected classes include race, national origin, citizenship status, religious affiliation, disability, pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity, past illnesses (including use of sick leave or workers’ comp claims), age, genetic information, or military service.

You should also avoid asking about things that might be protected by state law (like marital status and political affiliation). If you were to ask any questions pertaining to these matters, rejected candidates could claim that your decision was based on their inclusion in these classes rather than their credentials.

It can be difficult to navigate these sensitive topics. Help your clients protect themselves and get their unique questions answered with ThinkHR’s Live Advisors. Our certified HR and benefits advisors average 18 years of experience in the HR trenches and are accessible by phone, email, and the ThinkHR mobile app. Request a consultation to get started.

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is an HR certified professional author, editor, and researcher specializing in workplace culture, retention strategies, and the employee experience. He has previously worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, nationally-known business leaders, and non-profit organizations. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, The Week, and elsewhere.

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