I remember when I interviewed for a job as an Assistant Golf Professional at a resort in Scottsdale, AZ. I was 21 and had just graduated from college. I was moving to AZ with my boyfriend, who already had a job at another golf course. Both courses were managed by the same company, so the Head Pro interviewing me knew my personal background before I even entered the state. Then came the question:
Claudia, if it doesn’t work out with your boyfriend, what are you gonna do?
Quit your job and go home to Pennsylvania crying?
Yup. He said it. But I was 21, and I didn’t know that it was improper – heck, potentially illegal – to ask me a question like that. I replied, “Of course not. I’m here for me and my career as a golf professional, and that’s what matters.” Well, I’m not with that boyfriend anymore, and I’m not a golf pro, but I think things worked out just fine!
Interviews are essential to the hiring process, but you can be stepping on landmines without even knowing it. Certain topics such as family, children, religion and age simply are off limits unless you want to find yourself being deposed in a failure-to-hire lawsuit or being interviewed by your compliance department. Spare yourself the agony and keep these few points in mind:
- How do you intend to arrange for childcare?
- What year did you graduate from school?
- What country are you from, because your accent is really cool?!
- Do you intend to have kids?
- Should I call you Miss, Mrs. or Ms.?
- Can I see your driver’s license?
- Did you file any workers’ compensation claims at your last job?
- Why are you wearing that wrist splint?
- Do you have any mental health problems? How about a heart condition or anything chronic?
- Are you currently on reserve status?
TRY THESE INSTEAD:
- Required attendance hours are from 9 to 5. Are you able to meet the attendance requirements?
- Can you tell me your highest level of education? [Be sure a certain level of education is a job requirement.]
- If hired, can you provide proof of your eligibility to work in the U.S.?
- Do you have a valid driver’s license? [Assuming driving is a job duty.]
- What can you tell me about your prior work experience?
- The job requires long periods of standing. Are you able to meet that requirement, with or without a reasonable accommodation?
- Did you serve in the U.S. Armed Forces?
The key is to focus on questions that speak to the ability of the candidate to perform the job duties. Above all, be prepared. Prepare interview questions in advance. Take objective notes, meaning direct quotes or objective observations. Avoid writing things like, “sounds weird” or “looks funny.” Comments like that aren’t helpful, and they might be evidence of bias. At the end of the day, hire the candidate who is most qualified. The application, together with your interview questions and notes should be the proof you need to support the hiring decision.