Helping Clients Ask the Right Questions in Interviews

Gina Deveney
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There are numerous articles providing advice to job applicants about the best ways to answer interview questions. The risk of hiring the wrong person or being on the wrong end of a discrimination lawsuit means recruiters and managers also need a primer on asking the right questions when interviewing potential employees. Here are a few ways human resource experts can help clients ask the questions that will net them the information they need to hire the best candidates.

The training should start with an overview of employment discrimination laws. Equal Employment Opportunity laws prohibit the hiring, promotion, or firing of employees because of their race, religion, sex, age, disability, genetic data, or national origin. In some areas, the protection extends to a person's sexual orientation and gender identity. A review of the law is important because, interestingly enough, some employers are not aware of all the protected classes covered by it. This can lead to them asking awkward interview questions that may leave interviewees feeling they were discriminated against if they don't get the job.

The interview questions should focus solely on candidates' qualifications, work habits, and suitability for the position. To this end, the person doing the interviews should perform an analysis of the job and produce a detailed list of the duties the person in the role would be responsible for. This may require the assistance of the human resources department. The goal is to determine the level of knowledge and skill required to perform the job and avoid asking for qualifications that go beyond what's actually needed. For example, you don't want to require job applicants have a college education if a high school diploma is the minimum education a person needs to complete the work. This exercise also helps interviewers develop appropriate interview questions that focus on working out whether the person is qualified for the position.

To help the person conducting the interviews stay on track and reduce the chances of being accused of employment discrimination, it's best to write down the interview questions. It's a good idea to have the questions reviewed by a human resources expert and possibly even an attorney to be certain they are appropriate. All candidates should be asked the same set of questions during their interviews—this makes it easier to compare the candidates' answers and help you determine the best person for the job.

Asking the right questions during an interview can be challenging. With enough preparation, however, you can develop an effective list of interview questions that will help you sort though hundreds of job applicants to find the one who will work well at your company.



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