You would think that employers would have the job interview process down pat, put there are still a remarkable number of mistakes made. And some of the mistakes don’t just result in picking the wrong employee; they could potentially result in an EEOC complaint or even a lawsuit.
Here are some of the things you should never do when conducting a job interview:
Don’t ask illegal questions
There are a number of questions that you are barred by law from asking. They include questions with regard to:
- National origin
- Place of birth
- Marital and family status
- Health and disability
So you cannot ask a woman if she is planning on starting a family soon, or a grey-haired man how old he is. You also cannot ask somebody how often they go to church, or if they were born in this country.
One would think that employers would know not to ask questions on these categories, but there are some who still push the envelope here, and potentially put their employers in danger of a lawsuit because they did so. When in doubt, don’t.
Don’t hire somebody based on superficial reasons
People like people who have the same interests as them, and who have similar personalities, may bond with job seekers who remind them of themselves. However, just because you could be great friends with the job seeker in real life, that doesn’t mean that they are right for the job.
And it should be obvious that it is a bad idea to hire an employee based on looks, unless you are running a gentlemen’s club. Yet some employers still have a bias in favor of attractive people, instead of focusing on their qualifications and skills.
Don’t insult job seekers’ intelligence
Try to keep your questions smart and relevant. Barbara Walters may have been able to ask Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be, but if you ask a job seeker such a question, you will look wacky. Besides, what kind of answer would you expect from that type of question, anyway? Instead, some executive coaches recommend coming up with smart questions that you ask everyone, to make things more fair.
Don’t be a jerk
Being a decent person costs you nothing, and you will end up with better results. So why be a jerk? Sure, you can ask “gotcha” questions and be a bully and make job seekers feel uncomfortable, but how does this help you find the best staff? People may forget exactly what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Why not leave a positive impression, even if you’re not going to hire the person?
Don’t talk too much, and listen to the answers
You will never get a good picture of who the people you interview are if you make it a monologue, not a dialogue. You should let the job seeker talk for at least 75% of the time during the interview. Your job is to ask the questions, not put on a one-man show. And you should also actively listen to what the job seekers say. That also means taking notes. Don’t rely on your memory or you instincts. Write it down.