A good interview is a great event for a candidate to remember for a long time and talk about, but a terrible one is an interview a candidate will never forget.
Have you ever wondered whether your interview approach is the right one? Can you drive a good candidate away with your questions? Let's find out together what you should and should not do as an interviewer who cares about their company.
Top worst interview questions to ask a job candidate
1. What are your political views?
Politics is a hot-button issue that should be avoided in the workplace. Asking a job candidate about their political views could alienate them, and it's completely irrelevant to their ability to do the job.
2. What is your religious affiliation?
Like politics, religion is a personal topic that should be avoided in the workplace. Asking a job candidate about their religious affiliation could alienate them, and it's completely irrelevant to their ability to do the job.
3. What is your sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation is irrelevant to a job candidate's ability to do their job, and asking about it could make the candidate feel uncomfortable. It's best to avoid this question altogether.
4. Are you married? Pregnant? How many kids do you have?
If the familial status matters to the job then it should be apparent when the candidate applies not during an interview. It's a personal question to ask and it may put the candidate in a corner to answer such one. Sometimes this question might be triggering to the candidate due to unfortunate reasons.
5. What is your mental health history?
Mental health is a sensitive topic, and it's one that employers are not legally allowed to ask about during an interview. Asking a job candidate about their mental health history could make them feel uncomfortable and could dissuade them from applying for the job.
6.What is your criminal history?
Employers are not legally allowed to ask about a job candidate's criminal history during an interview. Asking about it could dissuade the candidate from applying for the job, and it's irrelevant to their ability to do the job.
7. Have you ever been fired from a job?
This question is relevant to the job, but it can be a sensitive topic for some candidates. Asking about it in an interview could make the candidate feel uncomfortable and could dissuade them from applying for the job.
8. What is your salary history?
Salary history is irrelevant to a job candidate's ability to do their job, and asking about it could dissuade them from applying for the job. Employers are not legally allowed to ask about a job candidate's salary history during an interview.
9. What is your biggest strength?
It's a stock question with a set of predictable answers that don't provide any new information or insight. It's always a trap question to the candidate such as what is your weakness? It is so common that many candidates have canned responses ready to go.
10. What are your hobbies?
Hobbies are irrelevant to a job candidate's ability to do their job, and asking about them could make the candidate feel uncomfortable. Sometimes there are no answers ready for this as there are no answers, so it's best to avoid this question altogether.
While you might think that these questions will help you get to know the candidate better, they will only do more harm than good. Avoid asking these personal questions during an interview, and stick to questions that are relevant to the job.
Why should you avoid poor interview questions?
Bad interview questions can damage a company's reputation, as they can make the company appear to be insensitive or unprofessional. Asking those questions can also discourage candidates from applying for the job, as they may feel uncomfortable answering them. Furthermore, horrible interview questions are often irrelevant to the job, and they don't provide any new information or insight into the candidate's ability to do the job.
- It may put you at illegal risk.
- It should be hard for a candidate to apply for a job and you being a reason for that is a high risk for your public image.
- Those questions will drive away the good ones.
- They may also be indicators of the interviewer's lack of experience or unpreparedness.
What are illegal & legal interview questions?
Illegal questions are those that are not related to the job, and which could be used to discriminate against a candidate. Illegal questions include those about a candidate's race, religion, national origin, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
Legal questions are those that are relevant to the job, and which cannot be used to discriminate against a candidate. Legal questions include those about a candidate's experience, education, and skills.
- May I ask about your experience with X?
- What made you interested in this position?
- Can you tell me a little bit about your educational background?
- Complimentary to the information you already know about the candidate.
- Questions within the legal parameters of the interview.
What is the name of your street? How long have you lived at this address? What is your current address? What was your previous home and how long did you stay there?
Is it possible to change shifts or days? Are there any shifts you are unable to work? Do you have any responsibilities that might make travelling for employment difficult?
- Financial status
Do you own a car? Do you own a house? (only if a requirement of the job)
- Sex (gender, sexual orientation, gender identity)
What gender do you consider yourself to be?
- Race and color
Some employees might ask each other "What is the weirdest interview question you have ever received?", you shouldn't be at the following answer.
How to spot a trick question in an interview?
A trick question is one that is designed to catch you off guard or to test your knowledge. Trick questions are often asked in interviews to test a candidate's ability to think on their feet, or to gauge their level of experience. Sometimes, they are asked for amusement, or to see how well the candidate handles pressure.
Here are some examples of trick questions that might be asked in an interview:
1. "What is your biggest weakness?"
The trap: Another popular and often asked question is this. The aim is to ask the candidate for constructive criticism, but the end result is usually a pre-written response that provides little value to the interview process.
Ask instead: “Tell me about a time when you saw a chance to improve,” or “Describe a situation in which you recognized an opportunity to grow. What actions did you take and what effects did they have?” are examples of conversational Q&As.
2. “ What is your current salary?”
The trap: The candidate is protected by law and their personal space to not answer such a question that seems invasive.
Ask instead: Inquire about their salary expectations
3. "How many gas stations are there in the United States?"
The trap: The answer to this question is not important, but rather how the candidate goes about trying to solve it. This question is designed to test problem-solving skills and creative thinking.
Ask instead: "How would you go about solving a problem that you don't have all the information for?"
4. "What is the square root of 64?"
The trap: The interviewer is testing to see if the candidate can do basic math, but more importantly if they can stay calm under pressure.
Ask instead: "Can you walk me through how you would solve this problem?"
5. "What would you do if you were stranded on a deserted island?"
The trap: This question is an example of an abstract question that is designed to test the candidate's ability to think creatively.
Ask instead: "What would you do if you were given a project with a tight deadline and no clear instructions?"
What's the worst thing to say at a job interview?
There are a few questions employers should not ask in an interview, as they can come across as negative or unprofessional.
For example, avoid saying anything that could be perceived as criticism of the company or the position that you are interviewing for. Additionally, avoid making any promises that you may not be able to keep, such as promising a certain salary or benefits package.
It is also important to be conservative in what you share about yourself, as you don't want to give the impression that you are anything less than professional and qualified for the position.
On the other hand, the best thing you can say as the interviewer is something that will make a positive impression on the candidate. For example, you could tell them that you are impressed with their qualifications or that you think they would be a good fit for the position.
Additionally, you could tell them that you are looking forward to learning more about them during the interview process. By saying something positive, you will help put the candidate at ease and make them more likely to have a successful interview.
It's a difficult experience to interview someone for a job; however, with practice, you'll get better at it. You only have a limited amount of time to talk with each applicant, so make sure every inquiry counts by asking just the finest and most fun interview questions. Create a good experience for candidates that won't even work with you.
Visit Velents and reach for the stars with your recruitment process.