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Avoiding Inappropriate Interview Questions

Avoiding Inappropriate Interview Questions

BLD Connection Magazine Industry News/Information Rikka Brandon Hire Power Building Gurus

Rikka Brandon - Building Gurus - Hire Power

Note - this is the sixth article in a series of 12 provided by Rikka Brandon andwas featured in the April/May 24 issue of BLD Connection Magazine. The seventh article will be included in the May issue of our monthly newsletter, Material Matters.

In my last column, which appeared in BLD Connection’s Material Matters e-newsletter, I discussed three types of interview questions that can help you hire the best candidate for the job. But there are also questions you should avoid, including some that could get you into hot water, some that are simply unhelpful and some that could lead you to hire someone who isn’t the right fit.

Here are the types of questions you should never ask job candidates.

Illegal Questions

As the interviewer, you never want to offend your applicants (or bring on a lawsuit) by asking illegal interview questions. These include questions about an applicant’s personal life, such as their race, religion, age, marital status, disabilities, etc. You don’t want to pry too much into an applicant’s life outside of work. There are plenty of ways to get the information that you need.

It is important to ask questions that are related to whether or not an applicant can perform specific tasks related to the job. For example, instead of asking, “Do you have a car?” try asking, “This job may require you to come in early and stay late. Are you able to meet the necessary time commitments?”

Leading Questions

If you really want to get to the cream of the crop, give your candidates a challenge. Leading questions, such as, “Our sales pitches usually require a visual element. Would you add a visual element to a sales pitch?” should be avoided as much as possible.

Part of your job as an interviewer is ensuring the applicants really have the

skills and experience you need. So, don’t give them the answer and be surprised when they show up at work and aren’t nearly as effective as you expected. Instead, try asking questions about how they’d handle common situations or give them a simulation to work through.

Yes-or-No Questions

Yes-or-no questions offer very little insight into your applicant’s experience and skill set. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow the applicant to select his or her best qualities or professional experiences that relate to the job at hand. Qualified job applicants should be able to think on their feet and come up with complex answers by listing examples, highlighting several key points and addressing the entire question efficiently and thoroughly.

Inappropriate Questions

I had a hiring manager who would randomly ask candidates to solve long-division equations during interviews. It invariably threw the candidate off and left a weird taste in their mouth about him and the company. I tried to talk him out of doing it, but he really loved it and thought it showed him how good people were at math.

True, math skills were important in that particular job, but they could have been verified more accurately with a pre-hire project simulation that showed how the candidate used math in a real-world scenario likely to be faced in that role. Likewise, don’t ask about management experience if the role doesn’t have any direct reports, and don’t ask about prospecting

experience if you are hiring an inbound salesperson. Keep questions focused on the skills and experiences needed to do this job well.

Finally, always keep a professional demeanor during the interview process, stay focused on the job and its requirements, and remember that both the interviewer and the applicant use interviews to determine if it’s a good fit.

Applicants won’t pursue a job opportunity if the interview is painful or unpleasant, and you don’t want to lose out on a great candidate due to mistakes made during the interview process. Do most of the work ahead of time and only interview people who are a strong fit in the first place.

If you take some time to think about these questions and really tailor them to the position and workplace you have in mind, you’ll end up with a workforce you will get more value from. 
Rikka Brandon is a leading recruiting and hiring expert in the LBM industry. She’s the founder of Building Gurus, a boutique training, consulting, and executive search firm for building products manufacturers and distributors. She’s also the creator of Hire Power   an on-demand training for recruiting and hiring in the building products industry. If you’re interested in working with Rikka, schedule a call at

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Source : Rikka Brandon

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