Inappropriate Interview Questions

Interview questions should be concerned with the experience, training, skills, etc.
These answers should provide evidence of whether the candidate possesses the knowledge, skills or abilities (KSA) set by the supervisor of the position. For example, the KSA of "ability to give oral presentations to large groups" may be one to be examined in the interview. A good interview question might be: "What experience have you had in presenting technical information to large groups?" In the questioning, you could ask about the size of the group addressed, if audience addressed challenged the information being presented, and to what extent the candidate participated in preparing the presentation. This type of question is objective; it does not "lead" the candidate to an answer, serves to find job related information. Less effective questions for this KSA would be: "Do you have trouble speaking before large groups?" "Can you speak well?"

Do not formulate hypothetical cases and ask the candidate to provide possible solutions.

For example, a typical KSA for supervisory positions is the "ability to delegate work." A good interview question would state: "What experience do you have in delegating work; what was the workload, how many subordinates did you supervise, what situations were encountered?" Do not ask: "What would you do in the following situation: You have 1,000 cartons of widgets to deliver.......your clerk is on leave; how do you get the cartons delivered?" This type of questions is not objective and there are no right answers.

Do not ask questions that have an obvious answer and provide no means for distinguishing among candidates.

The questions "Do you like working with people?" has an obvious response. A question such as "What experience have you had that shows you can effectively deal with the public?" would be more appropriate.

Some questions have been included in so many interviews that candidates may expect them.

An example of this type of question would be "Why do you want this job?" There is no right answer. Candidates tend to have prepared answers for these kinds of questions aimed at what they think interviewers want to hear. This type of question adds nothing to the interview.

The vocabulary used in interview questions should be geared to the level of the candidates.

Specialized terminology, organizational abbreviations, and so forth, which may intimidate or confuse the candidate should not be used.

There are some areas that are sensitive and should not be part of the interview.

You should be aware of the legal and illegal subjects for interviewing candidates. Legal areas may be addressed in the interview, but should be tactful and appropriate for the job to be filled (see "Interview Subjects".)

Content last reviewed: 6/5/2006-TWD

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This page was last revised: 6/5/2006