HR interviewing a candidate

Forbidden Interview Questions

Nicole D. Garrison on October 22, 2019 in HR Management

To find the best possible employee to fit the vacant job, you need to ask your candidates a variety of questions. It is these questions that will help you determine their skills, past job experience, and desire to land in this job. But sometimes, in the attempt to not fail the company, hiring managers end up asking some questions that may be misinterpreted by the candidates. These are those forbidden interview questions that you should never ask your candidates. In other words, these questions could bring out discrimination claims, which could prove to be extremely bad for the company’s reputation. Your candidates might understand it wrongfully and could cost you your job.

Therefore before conducting the next interview, make sure your list of questions does not include any of the following forbidden interview questions.

#1: “Do you plan to start a family/have children?”

For some employers, this question may seem appropriate, but it can often be misinterpreted. You might think you are asking this out of courtesy or because your candidate saw the picture of your family and mentioned it. You may sound like the company is not willing to employ them because you don’t want to deal with the costs of maternity or paternity leave. It may not be the case, but you don’t want to leave room for any interpretation. Do you? So, it is always better to keep away from such questions that may be too personal.

You might think about asking such questions to see if the candidate is planning on staying in the city for a good time or seeing if they are reliable. Instead of asking about family commitments directly, ask about their plans or the classic “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question. This way, you will be able to figure out from there if they are planning on having children or leaving town anytime soon.

#2: “You have an interesting accent. Are you a US citizen?”

This question is the second one in the list of forbidden interview questions. Issues with illegal immigrants are something that all countries have to deal with. You could be asking this question to find out whether the candidate is authorized to work in the United States. But, there are higher chances of you being misinterpreted. It’s certainly not the right way to get this type of information from your candidate.

However, if you go forward and decide to ask this, you need to make sure you phrase it in a better way. Ask it in such a way that it does not sound like you might be discriminating against them based on their nationality.

Asking something along the way of “If we decide to hire you, can you provide proof of citizenship or visa?” sounds much more professional and, above all, legal. But make sure to ask all candidates this same question, to keep away from trouble and make it part of your standard interview questions.

Another way to avoid asking this question is to tailor the job application process in a way that the candidates will share this information with you all by themselves. Write an engaging job description and create a customized application form so that you don’t leave room for misunderstanding. It will also help you attract more candidates.

#3: “Do you need health insurance?”

This question should not even be on your mind when interviewing someone. Of course, everyone needs health insurance and should be able to benefit from it. No candidate will ever say, “No, it’s ok; I don’t get sick anyway.”, so there is no point in asking this, especially during the interview.

Consider the following situation. The job role doesn’t cover health insurance, and you want your candidates to know about it. How would you do it? You can either write it in your job description or bring it up at the beginning of the interview. Present the situation to them and ask if they are still interested in interviewing for the job. But please see to it that you don’t waste anyone’s time.

If you speak about it towards the end of the interview, your candidates could judge you. They may think some questions you asked them, such as their marital status or health status, pushed you not to cover their insurance.

#4: “What did you hate about your past job/employer?”

While you might want to know what type of issues your candidates faced at the past job, this is not the most efficient way to bring it up. Your candidate and you both know they disliked something about their role. Otherwise, they would not be in your office, interviewing for a new job right now. Isn’t it?

Your candidates know that they should be as positive as possible during the interview. However, by asking them this question, you open up the opportunity for them to become negative. They could say things that may not be pleasing for you or them. “If you want to know what would make them stay, ask them about what motivates them to perform better. It would be a lot better than bringing up their unpleasant experiences,” advises Jonathan Moore, Recruiting Manager for Studicus.

#5: “Aren’t you a bit too old/young for this job?”

Age discrimination is a serious issue, and many companies have had to face trouble because they refused to employ people based on their age. The only thing that should interest you about the candidate’s age is if they are over 18 or over 21 in some cases. You should refrain from asking any questions about their age. You can always read their resume and figure it out before the interviews.

If you fear they might have trouble working with a team of people younger or older than them, bring this up in a more professional manner. Ask how well they adapt to working in a team, or what difficulties they think might encounter along the way.

#6: “What kind of religion do you practice?”

This one is the last and the most sensitive one in the list of forbidden interview questions! Religion is another thing that may come up from the desire to find out a bit more about your candidate, or even in a natural way during the conversation. You should ask such a question unless you are hiring for a faith-based company.

Other times, employers like to bring this up to show candidates that they are inclusive and promote a culture of diversity in their company. If you want to, you can mention this after you have made a job offer to make the candidate feel welcomed and accepted. But never during the interview! If they have some special requirements based on their faith, they will undoubtedly mention that to you when the time comes.

Job interviews can be stressful not only for the candidates but for the hiring managers as well.

No matter how well you plan to take on the interviews, make sure you don’t end up portraying you or your company terrible. You shouldn’t fail your company by vetting for someone that may not be entirely suited for the job. Keep away from questions regarding religion, age, marital status, nationality, or any other topic that may be subject to issues regarding discrimination. If you keep yourself away from asking these forbidden interview questions, we are sure you would conduct amazing interviews. Happy Interviewing!

Nicole D. Garrison

Nicole D. Garrison is a devoted contributor at TrustMyPaper, as well as other websites that specialize in marketing and human resources. Her success comes as a result of the hard work she puts into detail, research, and accuracy in every piece of content that she writes. In her free time, Nicole likes to jog and spend time in nature. For quite some time now, she has also started running a personal blog, called LiveInspiredMagazine.