Interview Questions: What Can I Ask?

Questions You Can (and Should) Ask

Questions need to be job related — so you can ask questions that are related to the job for which you are hiring, the experiences of the candidate from previous work, values of the company, etc. In a previous post, we provided a list of ten questions ideal for interviews — stick to these questions.

What To Watch For — Questions That Are Not Job Related

Why are you wanting to ask a question that is not job related? Chances are if it is not job related on the surface, the REAL reason you want to ask the question is job related. So ask the REAL question.

For example, I worked with a manager who wanted to ask if the candidate had daycare in place for her children. No, don’t ask that, and there are multiple reasons why – more on that later. But let’s first focus on the REAL reason you want to ask the question.

I asked the manager WHY he wanted to ask that question. He responded that he wanted to make sure that the person would be at work for their schedule, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. So THAT was the real question: the manager wanted to make sure the new hire was dependable and could meet the attendance requirements of the role – ask that. So we asked this question ‘This position requires you to be here from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – do you have any concerns about your ability to meet that requirement?” This question IS job related.

Risks of Asking Questions That Are Not Job Related
So, why not ask the question about daycare? There are a number of reasons (risks) but I’ll highlight two.

  • Questions that are not job related could be perceived as discriminatory, even if not intended. In the daycare example, the question would have been discriminatory to work (the manager was only planning to ask female candidates). Questions that are perceived as discriminatory could create risk from a legal perspective (and the law doesn’t care about whether or not it was your intent). In addition, questions that are perceived as discriminatory could leave a bad taste for the candidate and you could lose a potential good employee based on the question you asked.
  • Questions that are not job related may not actually get to the point of your concern. The daycare question didn’t really address the manager’s concern about being at work. Someone could have daycare in place but still not consistently work the required shift for other reasons.

Solution

Easy solution – stick to the questions highlighted in a previous blog and tailor them to the job for which you are hiring. If you want to ask different questions, make sure they are job related. If they aren’t job related, what is it you are really trying to find out – and ask THAT question.

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