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					                             Interview Do's and Don'ts
Job interviews are foremost about identifying a suitable candidate for a position. However,
inappropriate questions can lead to liability for unfair discrimination. Before you use any of the
following questions be sure you can justify a job- or business-related reason for doing so.
Additional information about risks and issues related to interviews can be found below.

   • Once the list of job-related interview questions is created, use it consistently for all
   applicants for the same position. Don’t ask different questions of males than you do of
   females, for example.

   • Try to first put the applicant at ease with introductory and welcoming remarks.

   • Ask open-ended questions which focus on behavioral descriptions rather than simply "yes
   or no" questions (i.e. have them describe a work situation in which they handled stress well
   rather than just asking if they can "handle stress well").

   • Listen; don't do all the talking.

   • Stay away from questions that have more to do with personal lifestyles than job experience
   - phrase the question so that the answer will describe on-the-job qualities instead of personal
   qualities - if the question is not related to performance on the job, it should not be asked.

In almost all instances, the following topics should be avoided in an interview:

   • Age - is irrelevant unless you are concerned about child labor violations under the Fair
   Labor Standards Act, in which case you can ask for proof that he/she is old enough to work.

   • Arrest record - do not ask at all - you may ask about convictions, but even then it would
   have to be relevant to the position in order to lead to immediate rejection. An example of a
   relevant inquiry would be if a candidate for a position with access to company bank accounts
   has ever been convicted of theft or misappropriation of funds.

   • Relationship to any current employees - this information is not relevant to an applicant's
   ability to perform successfully in a particular job, and the tendency to either encourage or
   prohibit the employment of friends or relatives of existing employees may create an adverse
   impact on members of protected classes.

   • Bankruptcy and credit affairs - never ask about bankruptcy since it is illegal to
   discriminate on this basis under the Federal Bankruptcy Law - all credit inquiries must
   comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

   • Citizenship - unless required by law or regulation, you may not ask applicants if they are
   U.S. citizens since it is considered discriminatory under the Immigration Reform and Control
   Act. You may ask if candidates are authorized to work in the United States.
   • Disability - the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to ask questions about an
   applicant's disability or perceived disability - it is crucial to focus on the job, not on the

   • Driver's license - avoid asking about it unless the job requires one since it could
   statistically screen out females, minorities and/or individuals with disabilities.

   • Educational attainment - relevant if it is directly related to successful job performance - if
   not, avoid it because it could potentially screen out minorities.

   • Emergency contact information - unnecessary at the application stage - and it can be
   discriminatory if it reveals information about the applicant's membership in a protected class.

   • English language skills - only ask if it is a requirement of the job (i.e. an English teacher) -
   otherwise it could be construed as national origin discrimination.

   • Marital status/name changes/spouse/children - any questions relating to these issues may
   be construed as discriminatory, especially against women - - none are job-related.

   • Race, color, religion, sex, or national origin - EEOC guidelines prohibit asking questions
   that may reveal this information; rejected applicants could have grounds for a discrimination
   suit if any of these questions were part of the application process.

   • Veteran status/military records - general questions about a person's background in the
   military should only be asked if based on business necessity or job-related reasons. If
   requested, such information should include a statement that general or dishonorable
   discharge will not be an absolute bar to employment but that other factors will be taken into

   • Weekend work/shift changes - unless required for the job, the applicant should not have to
   state whether or not they can work on the weekends - this could screen out applicants who
   cannot work on some weekend days because of their religious beliefs.

Sample Questions

The way in which questions are phrased is very important. The following are examples of
acceptable and unacceptable interview questions. The first question is unacceptable and the
second one is acceptable.

 1. No: Are you a U.S. citizen?
 Yes: Are you lawfully employable in the United States either by virtue of citizenship or by
 having authorization from the INS and the Labor Department?

 2. No: How old are you?
 Yes: Are you over the age of eighteen?
 3. No: Do you have any children? What are your child care arrangements?
 Questions about family status are not job related and should not be asked.

 4. No: What clubs or organizations do you belong to?
 Yes: What professional or trade groups do you belong to that you consider relevant to your
 ability to perform this job?

 5. No: Have you ever filed a workers' compensation claim?
 You may not ask this question or any related question during the pre-offer stage.

 6. No: What disabilities do you have?
 Yes: Are you able to perform the essential functions of the job to which you are applying? (Be
 sure you tell the applicant what the essential functions are).

 7. No: When did you graduate from high school? (Can inappropriately reveal age)
 Yes: What schools have you attended?

 8. No: What is your maiden name?
 Yes: Have you ever been known by another name? (Only ask this question if you need to
 contact a former employer, because a legal liability may exist if an applicant claims that you
 were trying to determine her ethnic background and consequently didn't hire her because of it.)

 9. No: Do you smoke?
 Yes: Our smoking policy is such—can you adhere to it? (Be aware of any state laws that relate
 to smoking. Some states prohibit an employer from excluding applicants for off the job

 10. No: Do you have AIDS or are you HIV-positive?
 There is no acceptable way to inquire about this, or any other medical condition.

                                 Sample Interview Questions
Questions might be phrased along these lines: "Think of an occasion when you…" and then
describe a particular situation. Another approach might be, "Can you give me an example of…"
A follow-up question might be, "What needed to be done about that situation?" And finally:
"What was the result?" Questions are designed to address the various themes of behavior
exhibited by successful incumbents. Examples sought might address values/ethics, work
intensity, relationship skills, problem solving, people management and others associated with
success on the job.

Add functional questions specific to the position.

I. Executive

Would you please describe your interest in becoming (title of position).
Tell me about your current position or most recent position and how you helped the organization
accomplish its goals and mission.

What did you do for that company that made a difference and for which you believe you will be

Tell me about your experience in leading and managing an organization similar to ours.

Do you have a personal philosophy of management?

Tell me about your fiscal management experience: budgeting, reporting, cutting costs, building
and maintaining reserves.

Have you ever had to champion an unpopular change? How did you handle it?

Have you ever faced a significant ethical problem at work? How did you handle it?

Tell me about your experience working with a board of directors. What approach and philosophy
did you follow in working with boards?

What do you think is the role of the President/CEO in strategic planning for the organization?

Give me some example of how and when you were the spokesperson for your current or most
recent company.

As our President/CEO, how would you proceed if the board of directors adopted a policy or
program that you felt was inconsistent with the goals and mission of our company?

Tell me about your experiences with staff development. How do you think your current or most
recent staff would describe you?

How do you stay informed of current ideas on management and the (industry field for the

Based upon what you have read and heard, what ideas do you have about continuing and
increasing the success of this company?

Are there any programs, policies, or actions of (name of company/organization) that you have
heard of with which you have concerns or differences?

If you are hired for this position and are still with (name of company/organization) five years
from now, how do you think the organization will be different.
II. Behavioral

If someone told you that you had made an error, describe how you would react and what you
would say in your defense.

If someone asked you for assistance with a matter that is outside the parameters of your job
description, what would you do?

You are a committee member and disagree with a point or decision. How will you respond?

Describe what you would classify as a crisis.

You are angry about an unfair decision. How do you react?

Suppose you are in a situation where deadlines and priorities change frequently and rapidly. How
would you handle it?

How do you know when you are stressed? What do you do to de-stress?

Tell me about a time when you were a part of a great team. What was your part in making the
team effective?

Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker. How did you
handle the situation?

How do you think your co-workers would respond if you were absent from work?

Can you tell me about a time during your previous employment when you suggested a better way
to perform a process?

Tell me about a personal or career goal that you have accomplished and why that was important
to you.

Give an example of a time when you were trying to meet a deadline, you were interrupted, and
did not make the deadline. How did you respond?

What strengths did you rely on in your last position to make you successful in your work?

What do you do when you know you are right and your boss disagrees with you? Give me an
example of when this has happened in your career.

Tell me about a situation you wish that you had handled differently based on the outcome. What
was the situation? What would you change (or will you change) when faced with a similar
Suppose your supervisor asked you to get information for them that you know is confidential and
he/she should not have access to. What would you do?

Describe a time when you performed a task outside your perceived responsibilities. What was
the task? Why did you perceive it to be outside your responsibilities? What was the outcome?

It’s 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Your supervisor gives you an assignment that needs to be
finished by 8:00 Monday morning. You have already made plans to be away the entire weekend.
What would you do?

If you observed a co-worker who made inappropriate sexual or racial remarks to another
employee, and it was obvious to you that the situation was creating an uncomfortable
environment, what would you do?

III. Interpersonal

What are your strengths?

What would your last boss say about you?

Describe how you like to be managed, and the best relationship you’ve had with a previous boss.

If I asked your previous/current co-workers about you what would they say?

Describe what you see as your strengths related to this job/position. Describe what you see as
your weaknesses related to this job/position.

Explain the phrase ―work ethic‖ and describe yours.

What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with? For example, assume you are in a
situation where you have to deal with a person very different from yourself and you are finding it
difficult. What would you do?

What methods do you use to make decisions? When do you find it most difficult to make a

Describe a difficult time you have had dealing with an employee, customer, or co-worker. Why
was it difficult? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?

How would your co-workers describe your work style/habits?

What do you do when others resist or reject your ideas or actions?

What do you think are the best and worst parts of working in a team environment? How do you
handle it?
Under what kinds of conditions do you learn best?

How would your past employers describe your response to hectic or stressful situations?

How would your co-workers describe your work style or work habits?

If I asked several of your co-workers about your greatest strength as a team member, what would
they tell me?

To you, which is more desirable: A business that is run in an efficient business-like manner OR a
business that is run in a personal and friendly way?

IV. Creative Thinking

What's the best book you've read in the last year? Please take a minute and tell us what you liked
about it.

What was the most creative thing you did in your last job?

What is your interpretation of ―success?‖

Describe an ideal work environment or ―the perfect job.‖

In what way(s) do you express your personality in the workplace?

V. General

Could you share with us a recent accomplishment of which you are most proud?

What would you have liked to do more of in your last position? What held you back?

Tell us a bit about your work background, and then give us a description of how you think it
relates to our current opening.

What are your qualifications in your area of expertise, i.e., what skills do you have that make you
the best candidate for this position? Include any special training you have had (on-the-job,
college, continuing education, seminars, reading, etc.) and related work experience.

Why have you applied for this position?

What skill set do you think you would bring to this position?

Tell me about your present or last job. Why did you choose it? Why did you/do you want to

What was your primary contribution/achievement? Biggest challenge?
What are your short-term and long-term goals?

In what areas would you like to develop further? What are your plans to do that?

What are some positive aspects of your last employment/employer? What are some negative

What do you think about SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures)?

What are your career path interests?

What do you know about our company?

Why should we hire YOU?

If the position required it, would you be willing to travel?

If the position required it, would you be willing to relocate?

If you were offered this position, when would you be available to start?

After learning about this opportunity, what made you take the next step and apply for the job?

If you are the successful applicant, how would you expect to be different after a year in this

Now that you have learned about our company and the position you are applying for, what
hesitation or reluctance would you have in accepting this job if we offer it to you?

Tell me anything else you would like us to know about you that will aid us in making our

What questions would you like to ask me?

VI. Ethical questions and sample answers

Q: If you saw a coworker doing something dishonest, what would you do?
A: Inform the most relevant authority(ies) about specific behaviors witnessed.
Follow handbook, contract, or past practice concerning handling the potential dishonest
Don’t immediately assume that the coworker is guilty of dishonest behavior.
Contact human resources for compliance help.
Don’t spread the potential dishonest activity news to employees or others who do not have
responsibility over the matter.

Q: What would you do if someone in management asked you to do something unethical?
A: Determine how the candidate defines ethics.
Determine how the candidate views their role in cases of ethics.
Determine how the candidate views power.

Q: You feel that you are a very good employee and others, including your boss, are telling you
that you don’t measure up – what would you do in this case?
A: Find out what specific behaviors are inadequate. Even if the impressions are wrong about
you, do not retaliate.

Q: How far is too far for monitoring employee movement, within and outside the confines of the
A: There should be a balance between the need to know information about the whereabouts of
employees and the need for privacy. Keep up with employee handbook policies and laws
concerning this matter.

Q: A Company-provided cellphone includes a pre-set ringtones that includes the song, ―Dixie,‖
and an employee is offended by the fact that this option was chosen. What would you do?
A: Follow handbook, contract, or past practice concerning handling potentially offensive
Don’t immediately assume that the employee is guilty of offensive behavior.
Contact human resources for policy help and interpretation.

Q: Your boss has a principle that he/she strongly believes in and the program has decayed. The
program is hurting the organization and the boss wants you to still push this program with the
employees, what will you do?
A: The buck stops at the top. Contact the boss to discuss specific concerns about the program.
Discuss alternatives
                                    Candidate Evaluation Form

Name of Applicant____________________________________
Department _________________________________________

Answer the following questions as they pertain to the requirements of the job:


[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position


Relevant Job Experience

[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position


Supervisory Experience

[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position


Technical Skills

[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position

Interpersonal Skills

[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position



[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position






Overall Ranking

[   ] excellent
[   ] meets job requirements
[   ] does not meet job requirements
[   ] not applicable for this position


Salary Expectations:______________________________________

Date Candidate Available to Begin Work ______________________


Date of Interview________________________________________

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