7 Questions to Never Ask a Job Candidate

Questions form the basis of a job interview. There are some questions job candidates should never be asked during interview. Asking such questions may create an awkward situation for the candidate and may even put doubts in their mind about the organization. Several state and federal antidiscrimination laws in the US protect job candidates from stereotypes and ensure they are hired on skill. This is why it is important that recruiters must know about the questions they should completely avoid asking in a job interview. Whether you’re in an organization’s recruitment panel, or working as a recruitment specialist with a staffing agency in Dallas or any other city, here’s list of seven questions that you are not supposed to ask a job candidate.

1. Have you ever been arrested?

Background checks on candidates might be a part of your recruitment process, but bluntly asking ‘Have you ever been arrested?’ Or mentioning it in the application form is completely uncalled for. If you want to know whether candidate has a criminal record, you may frame your question as ‘Have you ever been convicted of a crime?’

2.  Are you planning to have kids?

This is an inappropriate question to ask a candidate, especially women. Inquiring about their children or family planning puts candidate in an awkward position. It gives an impression that you don’t want to invest in them because you consider candidate with kids will be less committed to work and more towards their family.  Or if they are planning a baby they’ll be overlooked as they’ll need maternity leave. Instead, just ask a general question about their family.

3. How often did you call for sickness in your last company?

Asking the candidate about their sick leaves in past organization sounds extremely rude and judgemental. Instead, you may ask about their interests and how they unwind from regular office stress. You may inquire about a time gap on their resume. You may also ask about pre-existing medical conditions to ensure it isn’t an obstacle in their professional commitment.

4. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?

Avoid asking questions related to financial status of a candidate. There’s hardly any job position that requires information such as whether candidate owns a home, or previously had their wages garnished. If the job requires a person with a good credit score, the company has the right to perform a credit check. Leverage your right, instead of asking such things up front.

5. Are you a social drinker or smoker?

The question is completely irrelevant for a job interview and should never be asked. Whether a candidate drinks or smokes socially, should not matter to the organization. If the company has vibrant culture where dinners and parties are common affairs, it’s up to candidates if they drink or not and  has nothing to do with their professional commitment.

6. What's your race?

It is illegal to ask a job candidate about their race or skin color. Asking such as question reflects your judgemental mind frame and puts doubts in the mind of the candidate about their chances of getting the job. While there’s no polite way to ask, the employment application form may include it as an optional question.

7. How old are you?

It is illegal to ask the age of a candidate. Asking age or date of birth reflects age discrimination, prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Some states also protect candidates from age discrimination. Asking the age of the candidate during the interview, you are questioning their capability. You can have a minimum age requirement for the job opening and you may confirm if the candidate fulfills the requirement by having date of birth column in the application form.

Wrap Up

You may not ask these questions on purpose but unknowingly stumble into dodgy territory during the conversation in the interview room. Keep these red flagged questions in mind to avoid uncomfortable situations for both the candidate and yourself. If your organization’s recruitment team has been found committing the mistake of asking these questions, you may consider hiring a talent acquisition agencies. These staffing agencies have a team of highly experienced recruiters who adhere to state and federal laws while interviewing job candidates to fill opening in your organization.

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