10 Questions Employers Should Ask During the Job Interview...and 3 to Never Mention

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Properly interviewing job seekers to fill your company’s open roles has always been important.

Now, however, with the quest for talent being as competitive as it is, asking the right questions is vital. 

Moving quickly is essential to land top talent before they take a job somewhere else. You need a step-by-step plan for filling open positions. In addition, the right interview questions help you dig into the candidate’s education, experience, soft skills, and technical skill sets. Good answers to your questions give you confidence in extending an offer. Bad ones are reasons to pass on the candidate altogether. 

Remember, though, you don’t have carte blanche to ask any question you want. There are limits, both by etiquette and laws, of what you can ask during the interview. 

Here are 10 of our favorite questions to include in every interview, along with 3 we recommend you NEVER ask. 

Related Article: The Most Costly Mistakes Companies Must Avoid During the Hiring Process

Always ask:

1. Tell me about yourself. 

This question gives you a good overview of the person’s experience and skills. It also offers insight into their communication style. If they clearly explain their past, that’s positive. If they randomly ramble, that’s negative. 

2. Why do you want this job?

Knowing what the candidate expects of the job helps employers manage expectations. If they have a rosy picture of the role (travel to conferences and take clients golfing, for example), the hiring manager should be clear about all aspects of the role and what it will entail. The best answer to this question will showcase an understanding of the position, the candidate’s drive, and their desire to work hard.

3. What skills can you bring to our company?

Listen closely to this answer. If the applicant has done their homework, they’ll closely relate their skills and expertise back to your original job description. 

4. What is your greatest weakness?

Being able to discuss where they’re not perfect shows that the candidate is self aware. If they say they can’t think of anything, this is a sign they aren’t being honest and may not take constructive criticism well. 

5. Tell me about a positive contribution you made at work. 

Diving deeper into their experience is smart to ensure they’ll be able to perform well. If they have an example that shows ingenuity and measurable results, chances are good they’ll do the same for you. 

6. What was the reason you didn’t get along with a past manager?

Workplace conflict sucks resources and zaps productivity. If the candidate goes on and on about detesting a past manager, that’s not a good sign. If they emotionlessly point out a few key elements they didn’t agree with in a manager, that’s an honest and helpful answer. 

7. Why are you leaving your current position?

This question gives you an idea of where the job seeker’s head is at. Positive answers that don’t trash their current company, based on “looking for more challenges” or “I love your company culture” play to the candidate’s favor. 

8. What do you like best (and least) about your current job?

Understanding what the candidate enjoys, and doesn’t like, doing in their current job helps determine if they would be happy in your open role. 

9. How would your boss and team members describe you?

Of course, job seekers aren’t going to answer “petty, negative, and lazy” to this question. But, they might share information that helps you determine if they would be a fit into your company’s culture and the team they’d be working with. Specific examples that highlight the traits they mention should get extra points. 

10. Why should we hire you over the other people we’re talking to?

The answer to this question shows the level of self-awareness the applicant possesses, and the understanding of your position. It also shows the candidate’s ability to organize and communicate their experience.

Related Article: 5 Questions to Ask a Staffing Firm Before Hiring Them

Just like must-have questions, there are questions that need to be off the table during a job interview. These are inappropriate, nosy, and, in some cases, illegal. Asking these questions can get you sued. 

Never ask:

1. What is your current salary?

Once a mainstay in every interview, this question has fallen out of favor for a simple reason: It’s discriminatory. 

For example, a woman makes $80,000 a year and a man makes $100,000 a year. If the interviewer asks them both about their salary, the woman’s offer could end up being lower than the man’s offer. For the same work. 

It’s smart best practice to have a salary range for the position set that has no bearing on the candidate’s current earnings. 

2. Do you have (or plan to have) any children?

Avoid asking about children in any context. Basing a hiring decision on whether a person has or will have children is discriminatory and result in a costly lawsuit. Even if you’re just making conversation, once you ask the question, you can’t prove the answer wasn’t factored into the hiring decision. Mark it off your list. 

3. Can I friend you on Facebook?

This sounds innocent enough, but it’s inappropriate. While employers are within their rights to look at a person’s social media as part of their screening process, they should only consider public information. Friending applicants to see their posts, photos, and friends is overstepping. You may see things regarding protected class information like their religion and disability status that could come back to bite you. 

Easing the burden of filling open positions should be every company’s priority. In this competitive job market, you need to land as many high performing employees fast, or your competition is sure to snatch them away. These 10 questions give you insight into the candidate’s fit for the role. 

Need assistance finding a perfectly-matched candidate to your open position? Talent Experts knows secrets about the hiring process that employers don’t..but should. We can help reduce time-to-fill and increase the quality of your applicants. Call us today!

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