At TINYpulse, we often offer up tips to help hiring managers figure out which candidates they’re interviewing have the highest talent potential.
Sometimes, we provide lists of interview questions you might want to ask. Other times, we tell you about questions you might be asking that actually repel great candidates. We’ve also put together lists of the most outrageous interview questions that companies have asked.
This time around, we’ve compiled a list of seven interview questions managers should never ask during interviews. Let’s take a look at them:
You might be tempted to ask prospective candidates how old they are. But beware that it’s illegal to discriminate based on age. Anyone who’s 40 or older that doesn’t get hired after an interview may decide to take you to court if they feel they’ve been slighted because of their age. For most jobs, you only need to know whether an applicant is an adult. You should be able to figure that out by looking at any candidate’s résumé.
Unless you’re running a political action committee or some associated organization, you probably want to stay quiet about questions relating to political affiliations. The United States, in case you were unaware, is currently very polarized politically with about half of the country favoring the Republicans and the other half favoring the Democrats. At the very best, you don’t ostracize half of the talent pool by bringing politics into the interview process. At worst, in some states — like California and New York — discriminating based on political preferences is illegal.
Even if you’re trying to be nice, you should refrain from asking questions that could be construed as prying into where a candidate was born. It’s illegal to discriminate based on national origin. And again, you should probably be able to figure out where a candidate grew up by looking at their résumé.
You might be trying to be nice here too, but asking an applicant whether or not they are married can open up the door for lawsuits. It’s illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It’s also illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. You’ll find out about an applicant’s marital status after you’ve started working with them (assuming, of course, they’re willing to divulge the information).
While you might want to get a better picture of a candidate by figuring out what their hobbies are, this question can solicit answers that relate to politics, religion, or some other protected status. Make sure the questions you ask are job related in order to reduce the chances this occurs.
You may be tempted to inquire about how much alcohol a job applicant consumes. But that line of questioning is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act because it may solicit information relating to a recovering addict’s alcoholism. You can ask whether someone drinks alcohol or whether they’ve been arrested for driving under the influence.
Believe it or not, it’s illegal to ask prospective candidates if they’ve been arrested before. People do get arrested for all sorts of reasons — even when they are not guilty of any wrongdoing. You can, however, ask them whether they’ve been convicted of a crime.