The interview is unarguably the most critical aspect of the hiring process. Even though there is no one formula to conduct or appear for a successful interview, there is ample opinion and advice, on the internet and otherwise, to successfully sail through one. However, in this haste to ‘prepare’ ourselves for conducting or sitting through an interview, we almost exclusively focus on preparing the right set of questions to ask. But as any able interviewer will attest, the art of interviewing also involves extracting implicit information through the conversation. For the same purpose, we present you with a list of questions that should not be asked in an interview, both from the interviewers’ and interviewees’ end.
It is often assumed that the prospective employer has an unequivocal right to know everything about your life. That is however, not the case. A few of the questions listed below are actually illegal to ask in several countries. So while drafting the set of questions to gauge the potential of the applicant, skip the following:
1. Are you married?
The fact whether the applicant is married or not should not bias your decision. Any concerns about time commitments are legitimate, but you mustn’t equate marital status with the same. Hence, clearly lay down the working hours required of the candidate and ask them if they can commit to the same.
2. Which religion do you follow?
This is an absolutely unwarranted question, and might just reflect poorly on your company policy or personal views, if you go ahead with it. There is no justification whatsoever that permits asking the applicants’ religion.
3. Do you have children, or Are you planning to have children?
Much similar to asking the marital status, asking about children or planning of children is unnecessary. Similarly asking who would take care of the child if they are working is uncalled for. Your questions should be about how much dedication and commitment they can bring to the job, not assume the factors which might prevent them from doing so.
4. How did you get the mark/scar/impairment?
If the applicant has a visible mark or scar, or some form of physical impairment, queries about the same should not be directed to them. As long as they bring the required skills to the table, the question might just make them uncomfortable, or they might not be willing to talk about it.
5. What is your nationality, or What country are you from?
As long as the candidate fits the bill, their nationality doesn’t matter, and you posing the question will indicate discriminatory practices on the basis of nationality at your end. However, you should ask whether they are eligible to work in the country and have the required permissions to do so.
Whenever the interviewer asks, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ it is often followed by an awkward silence, or an even more awkward question that is likely to put them off. Although clarifications are always encouraged, many people make the mistake of asking the following questions:
1. Tell me about the organisation, or What does your company do?
Anything that can be found from a simple Google search shouldn’t be asked. The lack of basic information about the company, namely, how old it is, who founded it, which are the main competitors etc. shows you haven’t bothered to read up before the interview. However, an exception can be made in case of new start-ups.
2. When will I be eligible for a promotion/bonus/increment, or How soon can I shift my job profile within the organisation?
Don’t jump the gun! Such details will be made explicit, once your joining is confirmed. Such questions might just indicate your lack of motivation to take up the job, and decrease your chances of actually landing it.
3. Questions regarding timings.
How late can I come in before I get a warning? How long is the lunch hour? Can I leave one hour early on Fridays? Questions like these are likely to show your attitude towards work and your dedication for the job, and you wouldn’t want to ask them this during your first interaction, would you?
4. Will you check the references, or Do you do background checks?
Unless you have boldly lied on your CV, or given fictitious references, there is no logical need to ask this question. In fact chances are your uneasy nature of the question might propel the organisation to actually go ahead with the background check.
5. How did I do, or Did I get the job?
Such questions might put the interviewer in an uncomfortable position, for they would need to check with their seniors, or interview other candidates before taking a call. Although it is natural for you to feel excited or anxious regarding the result, it is better to end on a good note, and enquire about the next step, rather than overtly asking if you got the job!
All in all, don’t come across as nosy while you are the interviewer, and do not ask questions that reflect selfishness or indifference when you are the interviewee. As mentioned earlier, interviewing is an art, but is often reduced to an inefficient process with set in stone questions and unethical inquires into the candidates’ life. The applicant on the other hand should judiciously use the opportunity to pose relevant questions that reflect the best of them!