Don't Ask The Wrong Questions

Many employers see the process of interviewing people before you hire them as a "damned if you do/damned if you don't proposition. To some extent that can be true; however, the benefits of getting certain types of information on prospective employees makes it worth your while to interview.

The way to reduce your risk in interviewing is to ask very specific, very job relevant questions.

Kinds of questions to NOT ask What you can ask instead
  • Do you have any medical conditions that would interfere with you performing this job?
  • Have you ever filed for workers' compensation?
  • Will you be able to lift and carry 75# bundles of shingles?
  • Will you be able to climb a 28' ladder?
  • Are you able to distinguish between the colors on the equipment panel?
  • Are you taking prescription drugs?
  • No question. Asking about prescription drugs is not permitted before a job offer is made since such information might reveal the existence of certain disabilities.
  • Have you ever been treated for drug/alcohol abuse?
  • No question. But you can inform them that your company has a zero-tolerance policy, and does drug testing - both pre-employment and on a random basis.
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have small children?
  • Are you willing to travel in conjunction with this job?
  • Are you willing to work on projects that will have you out of town during the entire week?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
  • What kind of military discharge did you receive?
  • No job-relevant reason to ask this
  • Have you ever been a member of a union?
  • No job-relevant reason to ask this

This form adapted from one developed by the National Federation of Independent Business

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