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EEO Laws

The Best Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees


Nov 17, 2015

best interview questionsIn our previous blog post, we covered three types of questions you shouldn’t ask potential employees: questions that violate EEO laws, fall into a gray area, or are just plain outrageous.

In this blog post, we are going to go over questions that you can and should ask candidates.

Interview Questions that Don’t Violate EEO Laws

When you’re first speaking with a candidate, you want to ensure they meet the basic requirements of the job. But of course you don’t want to violate EEO laws. Here are some better ways to phrase your interview questions to get the answers you need.

Minimum Age Requirements

Sometimes you need to know if a person is of a legal age to work, especially when hiring younger seasonal employees. In this case you could ask the candidate provide proof of age once they are hired.

Foreign Language Skills

At other times, speaking a foreign language might be part of the job. For example, if it’s a customer service position that frequently communicates with international clients, you can ask a potential employee about their foreign language skills because it specifically relates to the job.

Authorization to Work in the United States

And instead of asking where a candidate was born or asking outright if they are a U.S. citizen, you can ask them if they’re authorized to work in the United States.

Scheduling Availability

Also, if your business is open every day of the week and on most of the major holidays – as many retail and service business are – you’ll want to know if the candidate can work those days. Instead of asking about religious or child care conflicts, ask the candidate if they are willing to work the required schedule.

Open Ended and Behavior Based Interview Questions

Besides finding out if the candidate meets these minimum requirements, you’ll also want find out more about their previous work experience. Betsy Milton, human resources business manager at Workplace Answers, recommends asking open ended and behavioral based questions.

“These types of questions provide more authentic answers from potential employees,” she states. “They also give a strong indication of past behaviors that will let you know how they might perform in the role you are looking to fill.”

Here are some of her suggestions for good interview questions to ask potential employees:

  • Tell me about the most complex issue you faced in a previous position and how you were able to solve the problem.
  • Tell me about a time you had to execute an initiative you didn’t believe in.
  • Tell me about a time you went above and beyond in your position.
  • What’s your definition of leadership?
  • Have you ever made a mistake at work? And what did you learn from it?
  • What’s the most creative idea you’ve brought to your team?
  • In your last role, how was your performance measured? How often did you hit those goals?
  • When was the last time you missed a deadline? And what did you do to turn it around?
  • When coming into a new role, how do you ensure your own success?

Get Familiar with Hiring & Interviewing Best Practices

Asking the wrong interview questions to potential employees – even if it’s unintentional – is asking for trouble. On the other hand, when you ask candidates the right questions, you’re able to find out if they meet the minimum requirements for the job, and you get a better feel for how they will perform in the role.

It’s essential that everyone in your company involved in the hiring process is familiar with best practices. And you can do that by providing training and guidance on how to lawfully interview and hire.

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