What Can I Ask? Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Mar 31, 2021


Conducting an interview is a major step in the process of hiring an employee. The interview is an employer’s chance to obtain information from an applicant that expands on their application or resume and establish rapport. Part of this process includes knowing what interview questions to ask, how to ask them effectively, and perhaps even more importantly, the questions you shouldn’t ask in an interview.


DO vary the types of questions you ask: 

Closed-ended — These are simple, straightforward questions that can often be answered with a yes or no response, or a specific fact.

Example: “How many years of kitchen experience do you have?”

Open-ended — This type of question requires thought and elaboration and is great for getting to know a candidate’s motivations, work ethic and personality.

Example: “Why do you want to work for this company?”

Hypothetical — In this type of interview question, the candidate is asked to respond to a situation he or she may face on the job.

Example: “If you encounter a customer who is offensive or belligerent, what would you do?”

 Off-the-wall — Unusual questions can provide insight into a candidate’s personality and communication style.

Example: “If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?” (Limit these to 1 or 2)


DON’T ask questions that can lead to a perception of discrimination.

Examples: Are you married? Do you plan to have a family? Are you religious?


DO confirm the candidate’s ability to work the required schedule. If you are concerned that an employee may not be able to work when you need them, you can say: The schedule for this role requires open availability on weekends, are you able to work both weekend days?


DON’T respond to or document any information a candidate voluntarily offers that could lead to a discrimination claim down the line. Even if an applicant chooses to share information from a protected category, do your best to re-direct the conversation to neutral subjects and job related questions.


DO ask for specific examples. Hypothetical questions have a place, but it’s better to ask for a concrete example of a time candidates had to resolve a conflict than to ask them to imagine how they’d react to a hypothetical conflict.


DON’T ask leading questions. That’s when the answer you expect is implicit in the question, such as: “I bet you’re good at time management, aren’t you?”


For more interview tips, reach out to our team of HR Experts for compliant templates, customizable tools, and direct hiring support. 

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