Interviews. You either look forward to doing them, dread them or get someone else to do them for you. Perhaps you feel you have nailed your interviewing technique by now and typically follow the same process every time. This is great… if your technique is a success and legally compliant.
It might surprise some employers to learn that employment law applies even before hiring an employee. From the moment you begin recruiting, you are bound by laws on discrimination and data protection.
Choosing the right questions can also be a challenge. In a limited length of time you’ll want to find out if they are the right person for the job, the right fit for your culture and to tell them more about your company. Believe it or not, some employers stumble here and get this part horribly wrong.
What not to ask in a job interview
Earlier this year a candidate tweeted about her brutal and humiliating interview during which she was quizzed about her childhood, her parents’ relationship and criticised for her posture.
Unsurprisingly the tweet went viral attracting attention and a BBC radio interview. Not to mention some bad PR for the company in question.
Inappropriate or invasive questions can make a candidate feel uncomfortable and some, such as “Are you married?” or “Do you have children?”, can be blatantly discriminatory and illegal. It’s best to avoid getting too familiar.
In another example, a well-known Caribbean food chain is reported to have asked candidates to show off their limbo skills. Whilst it’s in the spirit of the company culture, this is a risky route for an interview. We would advise that interviewers avoid asking candidates to dance – unless it’s crucial to the job!
What can I ask a candidate?
There are plenty of acceptable questions that you can and should ask an interviewee, that won’t be harmful or embarrassing. We suggest having some prepared ahead of time.
You’ll want to prioritise questions that explore their skills and experience to find out if they are the best person for the job. Questions like “Can you elaborate on your relevant experience for this role?” or “What skills can you bring to this position?” will help you to make your decision.
Questions that instigate critical or creative thinking can also be useful, if they are necessary for the role requirements.
Naturally you’ll also want to know if the candidate will fit in well with your company culture. Open-ended questions like “What are your hobbies?” can be a good ice breaker and are a safe way to find out more without being invasive. Also, a revelation such as regular participation in dangerous sports might tell you a lot more about a person.
Peter Jones runs the HR Dept in Swindon and Wiltshire www.hrdept.co.uk/offices/south-west/swindon