Interview Questions: the Good, the bad, and the Illegal

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InterviewThey coif their hair, tailor their suits, and shine their shoes. They anxiously wait alongside the ill-prepared for their time slot of as much eye-contact as they can handle without going blind. The millennials scroll down responsive Web pages on their mobiles to cram in as much company knowledge as they can before their time is up. Welcome to the interview life.

They’ve prepared and practiced. Each interview means a great deal t0 the candidates, and each one can mean an even bigger deal to you. As much as 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Making a poor choice can result in lower returns, headaches, and overall negativity. So what is one easy way to squeeze the most out of the 10-15 minutes of an interview? Stay fresh, efficient, and current by learning the good, the bad, and the illegal interview questions.

The Good 

With work schedules, employee engagement, and company culture climbing to the top of priority lists, recruiters must think differently when interviewing potential candidates. Eighty-eight percent of millennials surveyed said they want “work-life integration.” Instead of asking the questions interviewees know are coming (and have prepared their fake answers for), make them think on their toes. Ask:

  • What is your ideal work schedule in regards to flex-time and in-office and remote working?”
  • “Tell me about a time when you were happiest at work. Why did you feel that way?”
  • “How would you handle a team situation where Nina wants to dive right in, Joe is telecommuting, and Todd wants to gut the project?”
  • “What was the worst day you’ve ever had at work and why?”

Make the interview a fun conversation and maybe even put the interviewer on the spot, instead of listening to a rehearsed two-sentence ear hazard. If your company is fast-paced and results oriented, reflect that in the interview through your choice of questions. If your company is stuffy and corporate cog-y — well, go ahead and ask the textbook interview questions.

The Bad

Complacency is an easy rut to fall into — sticking to the same ol’ questions and routines. “So tell me about yourself?” and “what do you consider your strengths?” continue to be the most popular interview questions.  In reality, they are the worst. These questions fail to unearth the true motivations, characteristics, and cultural cues of applicants, because the candidate knows they are coming. Interviewees prepare for these questions, and as a result, they tell you what you want to hear.

Have you ever hired a great candidate just to find out a month later that they are not who they said they were? They told you what they had to in order to get the direct deposit flowing again. Hiring managers admit that 20 percent of their team shouldn’t have been hired  in the first place. This may be an unfortunate truth for an interviewee, but you can make a few simple changes to learn the true identity and work personality of the candidate.

The Illegal

“How old are you?” This one is tough. Does it seem harmless? Maybe. But, this is an example of an illegal interview question. While it’s advised to make the interview more like a conversation than an inquisition, make sure this questions doesn’t accidentally slip into the casual conversation. Never fear, though: you can infer a lot from a resume. Easily determine a rough age estimate by looking at graduation dates and employment ranges. Facial hair or a high-pitched voice may throw you off, so this is your gentle reminder to steer clear of directly asking.

The Outcome

Prior to the interview, candidates prepare a lot. While this is usually a good thing, you must be wary of the fake personality traits that can show up. Recruiters need to hire efficiently.

In a survey of 2,000 bosses, 33 percent claimed that they know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone When those seconds are up and you have determined which candidate you want, dig deep and ask the questions to get to the answers you need. Be real, smart, and consistent to gauge what real strengths the candidate can offer by asking better questions.

By Kerry Pivovar