TO ASK or NOT TO ASK, THAT IS
As a Human Resources Consultant, I am often asked by clients
and potential clients, what are some good questions to ask during
an interview. After nearly 40 years of HR experience at the Director
or Vice President level, I can honestly say that I have conducted
thousands of interviews on prospective employees. As a result,
I have been able to pick up a few pointers which may be beneficial
to interviewers. First, let’s start with the questions
which should never be asked such as:
- Never ask a question where you already know the answer (i.e.
Are you a good employee? Will you show up for work every day
- Never ask a question which can be answered in one word such
as “Yes” or “No”. Always ask open ended
questions which require the individual to think about the answer.
Never ask any of the following questions because they could
have potential legal consequences.
- Have you
ever been arrested/convicted of a crime?
- Are you married?
- What religious holidays do you observe?
- Do you have/Are you planning
to have children?
- What are your child care arrangements?
- What country are you from?
- Is English your first language?
- Do you have any outstanding debts?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
- Do you drink socially?
- When was the last time you used controlled
- How long have you been working? How long
have you been out of work?
- What type of military discharge do
- How old are you?
- When did you graduate from high school?
- Do you have a working
automobile which you can drive to work each day?
- How many days
were you out sick in the past 3 years?
- Have you ever filed a Workers’ Compensation
- Do you have any disabilities?
- Do you smoke?
- What is your sexual orientation?
- What is your gender identity?
- What is your Face book login information?
- Have you ever joined
- What are your off duty activities?
During the interview process, you are trying to determine if
the applicant has the necessary skills and aptitude to do the
job. You are also trying to determine if the individual will
be a good candidate to fit into the culture of the organization.
You also want to determine if the individual has the necessary
qualities to be successful in the job. Questions can be developed
depending on what specific quality the interviewer is trying
to find out about, such as:
- Leadership. Tell me about a time when
you were able to step into a situation, take charge, muster
support and achieve good results.
- Initiative and follow through. Tell
me about a situation that you had significant impact on because
of your follow-through.
- Thinking and problem solving. Tell me
about a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed
- Communication. Tell me about a situation
where you had to be persuasive and sell your idea to someone
- Working effectively with others. Tell me about a time when
you were able to motivate others to get the desired results.
quality. Tell me about a specific project or program that you
were involved with that resulted in improvement in a major
- Creativity and Innovation. Tell me about a situation in
which you were able to find a new and better way of doing something
- Priority setting. Tell me about a time when you had
to balance competing priorities and did so successfully.
making. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an
- Ability to work in a changing environment.
Tell me about a time when you had to change work mid-stream
because of changing organizational priorities.
- Delegation. Describe for
me a time when you had to delegate to a person with a full
workload, and how you went about doing it.
- Customer service. Tell me about
a time when you made a lasting, positive impression on a customer.
Please note that all of the questions above begin with the words “tell
me about, or, describe for me”. These are open ended questions
which will require the applicant to actually think about an appropriate
response which is recalled from past working experiences.
A company’s best defense against the potential expense
and aggravation related to federal or state law violations is
to proactively review and revise as needed all Human Resources
policies, handbooks, hiring procedures, compensation, benefits,
training programs, communications tools and other functions.
The professionals of PHHR are ready to assist your organization
with this type of training as well as to maintain compliance
with the latest state and federal mandates.
Paul Hilton Human Resources Consulting works with our clients to insure that all required documentation is correct and sufficient to successfully defend against a claim to any unemployment compensation commission.
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Paul Hilton is a certified Human Resources Consultant, located in
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