Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.
+1 212 318 2000
Europe, Middle East, & Africa
+44 20 7330 7500
+65 6212 1000
Interviewing potential employees is an important part of owning and operating a business. Every organization has to interview people and each interviewer has his or her own way of conducting interviews to determine if he or she thinks a potential candidate will be a good fit and valuable asset to the company. But few interviewers really know what they can and can’t ask.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued guidelines for questions that employers are prohibited from asking, such as:
What is your maiden name?
How old are you?
Do you plan on having kids in the future?
What religion are you?
These questions are fairly obvious, but in my experience, employers get into trouble when they try to engage in small talk. For example, if somebody had a Polish last name and the employer asks about its origin, that can be discriminatory, especially if the interviewer selects another candidate for the job. The key is to eliminate small talk, while remaining polite, and stick to questions that are relevant to the person’s ability to perform the job he or she is interviewing for. Only ask relevant questions that will allow the applicant to discuss and demonstrate his or her capabilities. These questions include but are not limited to the following:
Warm-up questions. For example, what motivated you to apply for this position? How did you hear about it?
Work history. What special aspects of your work experience have prepared you for this job? Can you describe for me one or two of your most significant job accomplishments?
Job performance. Everybody has weaknesses and strengths; describe your strongest attributes pertaining to this job. What are some areas in which you feel you could use improvement?
Decisiveness. Do you consider yourself to be analytical or do you make up your mind fast?
Motivation. What is your professional goal? Can you give me examples of job experiences that you felt were satisfying?
Work standards. What are your standards of success in your job? In your position, how would you define doing a good job?
A Plus Benefits
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.