10 More Interview Questions You Can't Ask and 10 Legal Alternatives

We received such great feedback on our first post about certain questions that you cannot ask while conducting an interview that we decided to write about a few more!  Here are 10 question you cannot ask in an interview and what to ask instead.

Marital and Family Status

1. What not to ask: "If you get pregnant, will you continue to work, and will you come back after maternity leave?"

Ultimately, you want to be able to invest your time into a candidate that will end up sticking around, but you can't ask a woman to share her pregnancy plans, or lack thereof, with you.  

Instead, ask: "What are your long-term career goals?" 

 

Gender

2. What not to ask: "How do you feel about supervising men/women?"

This question, although it may seem like a valid concern, is not acceptable.  The candidate may not have any issues working with the opposite or same sex, and you'll seem crass for even bringing it up.

Instead, ask: "Tell me about your previous experience managing teams."

3. What not to ask: "What do you think of interoffice dating?" 

Interoffice dating can be distracting, could potentially break up teams and cause a whole number of other problems in the workplace. However, asking this particular question makes assumptions about the candidates marital status and could also be perceived as a come-on.

Instead, ask: "Have you ever been disciplined for your behavior at work?"

 

Health and Physical Abilities

4. What not to ask: "Do you smoke or drink?"

As an employer, you would want to avoid a potential candidate that has a drinking problem or will take multiple smoke breaks throughout the workday.  It can also be a potential insurance concern.  Instead of directly asking about this, find out if they have had some trouble with health policies in the past.

Instead, ask: "In the past, have you been disciplined for violating company policies forbidding the use of alcohol or tobacco products?"

5. What not to ask: "Do you take drugs?"

This particular question is just a misunderstanding of terms.  Your potential candidate may think you are asking them about prescription drugs, which is off-limits.  Make sure you are specific about illegal substances instead of legal prescription ones.

Instead, ask: "Do you use illegal drugs?"

6. What not to ask: "How much do you weigh?"

This is incredibly personal and is often times an embarrassing for most individuals.  Most of the time it is also not necessarily relevant to a candidates ability to do even a physical-labor job. Avoid making assumptions, and ask about abilities directly.

Instead, ask: "Are you able to lift boxes weighing up to 50 pounds?"

Miscellaneous

7. What not to ask: "Do you have any disabilities?"

Disabilities, whether they're physical or mental, may affect a candidate's ability to do the job assigned, but it is very important, critical even, that you avoid asking about them.  Instead, find out if the applicant can handle doing what is required of the job description. 

Instead, ask: "Are you able to perform the specific duties of this position?"

8. What not to ask: "How far is your commute?"

Although hiring an employee who lives close by may be convenient, you cannot choose candidates based on their location.  Instead, find out about their availability.  

Instead, ask: "Are you able to work at 8 a.m.?"

9. What not to ask: "Have you ever been arrested?"

In sensitive positions, like ones in which people are dealing with money, you may want to find out about your candidate's legal background.  But ensure that you ask only directly about crimes that relate to your concerns.

Instead, ask: "Have you ever been convicted of "X" (fraud, theft, etc.)

10. What not to ask: "Were you honorably discharged from the military?"

A bad military record can be rather illuminating.  However, you cannot ask about it.  Instead, ask about the candidate's experience in the military.  They may volunteer this information on their own.  

Instead, ask: "Tell me how your experience in the military can benefit our company."

Here at GetPayroll, we aim to provide the tools necessary to start and maintain your business in a professional and compliant manner.  Make sure to check back for more useful tips and tricks to use within your own business!

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