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Four Questions NOT to Ask Your Candidates
Four Questions NOT to Ask Your Candidates

Automate pre-screening with these tips that will help you filter the best candidates

Support Team avatar
Written by Support Team
Updated over a week ago

We’ve listed some of the best practices when pre-screening your candidates, and how this can create a better user experience both for you and the candidate.

1. “Do you consider yourself a good communicator?”

❌ Don’t ask leading questions

Leading questions are those that prompt an obvious answer. More often than not, these are Yes or No questions pertaining to a desired characteristic for the position. Though it is important for us to verify that the candidate would be a great fit, this kind of question doesn’t actually help us determine whether or not the candidate is indeed a good communicator.

✅ Instead, do have your candidate showcase their skills

Allow the candidate to demonstrate their communication skills by requiring an audio or video answer. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate additional factors like vocal clarity and body language which are especially important for customer-facing positions.

Try it this way: “How would you explain [concept/service] to a five-year-old?”

Protip: Different skills are highlighted in different ways. For creative positions like writers and digital artists, you can create a question that asks them to upload a sample of their work. Alternatively, you can ask how many years of experience they have by creating a multiple-choice question.

[Discover what response type best suits your questions and how you can create them here.]

2. “What about our company interests you and made you decide to apply for the position?”

❌ Don’t ask compound questions

With some interviews being conducted within thirty minutes or less, it’s convenient to bunch together similar questions. This, however, could decrease the quality of the answers you’d be receiving for two reasons. First, it’s easy for a candidate to get carried away and focus more on one question instead of giving both equal emphasis; and second, the questions may be redundant to each other.

✅ Instead, do break it down and prioritize questions

Separate compound questions to allow the candidate to give equal importance to each question. If doing so exceeds the allotted time, then it is time to take a look at your list of interview questions and prioritize them according to their added value to the decision-making you’d have to make at the end of the interview process. Look at which ones tend to produce similar answers and narrow it down to a single question.

Try it this way: “What made you want to apply to our company?”

3. “How old are you?”

❌ Don’t ask questions prohibited by the law

Many countries have now created laws against preferential screenings based on a candidate’s age, race, disability, marital status, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. This is to ensure that all candidates are given an equal opportunity; and that the basis for hiring (or rejecting) a candidate is solely based on the relevant qualifications.

✅ Instead, do check for legal alternatives

Basic fact checks like is a candidate within the legal working age or do they have any criminal records related to the job (e.g. fraud) are still okay to ask. These are the type of questions that are in direct conflict with the job and are often, irreconcilable. Of course, other fact checks like the educational background and industry experience are allowable as well.

For more details, here is a comprehensive list of illegal interview questions. However, it is always best to check in with your local government.

Try it this way: “Are you of legal working age?”

Protip: For hassle-free prescreening and sorting, you can set up Autoflow, Talkpush’s drag and drop feature. It allows you to design workflows for each job campaign, and once it’s all set up, your team can sit back and enjoy the automation magic.

[Want to get started on Autoflow? Click here]

4. “Do you have children?”

❌ Don’t ask irrelevant questions

Asides from the fact that this question is illegal in many countries, this can be problematic especially when a candidate is unable to recognize the underlying question here -- would she be able to commit to this job? When we beat around the bush, we might not get the answer that we are looking for. Thus, we deduce an answer by asking irrelevant questions.

✅ Instead, do focus on competency-based questions

Ask what you really want to know. If you are concerned about attendance, overtime, or commitment, then ask questions on how the job fits into their long-term plans or if they’d be able to fulfill the position’s demands. A good rule of thumb is to check if your interview questions assess specific competencies that are crucial for success in this position. If they don’t, it’s likely that they are irrelevant or worse, illegal!

Try it this way: “Will you be able to do overtime when asked?”

Protip: You can create candidate attributes that will help organize, filter, and map this kind of information.

[Learn more about configuring candidate attributes here.]

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