When looking for the right candidate, the in-person interview is probably the most important part of the process.  It’s important to ask the right questions to determine which candidate will be the best fit for the position and your company. But, there are several seemingly innocent questions that are actually illegal to ask.  Here are a few interview questions to avoid.

Do you have children? – Although you’re probably just asking so that you can get to know the candidate better, you shouldn’t ask this question. It can be argued that you are asking because you don’t want to hire someone who may need to take time off for family commitments.

Do you smoke? – You can’t discriminate against someone for using a legal substance, so it’s best to leave this question out of the interview process.

How old are you? – Since age discrimination is illegal, this question should not be asked.

So, what are some questions you should ask? General qualities that most companies look for are leadership skills, strong communication skills and the ability to work with a team. Ask candidates to provide a specific example of a successful project they worked on with a team. Ask them how their communication and leadership skills helped make the project a success. If they don’t have an example, or the example is too general, they may not be the right fit for your company. Also, consider some of the skills required for the position that can be tested. For example, does the position require analyzing data in spreadsheets? If so, test the candidate’s Excel skills.  A candidate may tell you they are proficient in Excel, but the test will be your proof positive.


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