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Interview Questions That Might Make Candidates Look For Employment Elsewhere

You schedule interviews to learn more about candidates and to make better hiring choices. However, don’t forget that the street goes both ways. Potential employees are also judging your organization, trying to figure out if they want to join your team.

One study discovered that more than one in six job offers (17%) are rejected. And, of course, rejection becomes more common for the most in-demand candidates. For the best performers, you need to make your sales pitch at every step of the process.

That includes during the job interview. While there likely aren’t any questions that will instantly entice a job candidate, there are a few that will immediately drive them away. To help you avoid these deal-breakers, here are a few categories of interview questions that might make candidates look for employment elsewhere:

How to Find the Best (and best to avoid) Interview Questions

Problematic Questions

When planning your interview strategy, you have two goals to pursue simultaneously. One involves uncovering information about your candidates. The other centers around selling the benefits of joining your organization.

Often, it isn’t hard to push these objectives at the same time. However, occasionally, these goals run counter to each other. To avoid these problem areas, keep in mind these problematic question types:

Illegal Questions

Some questions are simply outside the bounds of an interview. Discrimination laws and other considerations make it outright illegal to attempt to gather certain information. Here are a few categories to avoid:

  • Age
  • Birthplace/country of origin
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender/sexual orientation
  • Marital status/size of family/pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Disability status

Some of these might seem extremely obvious — topics you would never dream of bringing up in the interview. However, casual small talk can also lead you into dangerous territory for some of these categories.

For instance, think of questions like “where are you from originally?” or “how many kids do you have?” You’d likely ask questions like these without thinking when chatting with any new acquaintance. However, they could conceivably violate protocols for some of the categories listed above.

To avoid these unintentional missteps, meet with HR ahead of time and designate safe questions to include in the interview.

Anything Political/Controversial

Job interviews have a social component. You are meeting someone for the first time and trying to get to know them. However, the conversation also comes with firm boundaries. Don’t think of an interview as the same as jabbering in a bar over drinks.

As such, many conversation topics are off the table. Don’t bring up politics or controversial news items. You can stay friendly, but joking around can cause misunderstandings as well.

Aggressive Corporate Culture Signaling

Culture is a key subject to discuss in an interview. However, certain signals can turn away good candidates. As such, you should decide how you want to present your expectations.

Think about questions like these:

  • Do you mind working 12-hour days?
  • Are you willing to work for free?
  • Will you be available to us 24/7?

Of course, you probably wouldn’t ask these precise questions. However, some employers aggressively push hustle culture during their interviews, searching out candidates that are willing to put in as many hours as possible.

Yes, these employees are valuable. They are also rare and subject to burnout. Make sure you don’t characterize your company as a sweatshop during the interview. You’ll just end up losing many strong candidates while you seek elusive superstars.

How to Frame Questions

To maximize the value of your job interviews, consider how to create the best questions possible. Small variations in a prompt can make a big difference in a candidate’s response. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Know the Rules

Going into a round of interviews, understand the limits. Research the law and what topics sit out of bounds. Also, contact HR about internal rules they have in place. This background will keep you from straying off track.

Stick to the Job

As you ask questions, focus on the open position you have available. It is always acceptable to gather information related to the job. Skip questions about the candidate’s family status, but feel free to inquire about their willingness to travel or the flexibility of their schedule.

Have a Script

Avoid slip-ups by having a set question list. Determine what you want to know about each candidate ahead of time. Then, in the interview, you’ll have a clear process ready to go.

Looking to Best Locate Top Candidates for Your Organization?

Running a comprehensive recruiting process can get complicated. Partnering with a top recruiter, like Elby Professional Services, lets you find the best candidates, without the added headaches.

Contact Elby today to upgrade your hiring efforts.

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