So ahhh, are you married or single? How old are you? Are you straight or gay?…..

Not the kind of questions you’d like to be asked during an interview, are they. They’re more like questions you might hear from a sleaze at a Friday night happy hour, and would you believe these are questions some interviewers have asked job seekers before.

After decades and decades of anti-discrimination initiatives through lobbying, legislation and organisations like the Victoria Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission promoting equality and a fair go when seeking and gaining employment, there are still some oblivious managers who might have missed that memo or worse, might think they can get away with it.

Well the reality is, it’s against the law to discriminate a person based on a personal trait or attribute and what you ask in an interview is where these claims could ensue.

Furthermore interview questions are so important in choosing the right person for the job. So why would anyone waste their time on irrelevant questions like that?

The cost of recruitment is estimated to be on average between half and two-thirds of the employee’s annual salary. So getting the right questions prepared is KEY… and that’s only after determining the selection criteria at the beginning of the recruitment process to enable an objective assessment of applicants throughout the whole process.

Am I being too optimistic to think we are all very well aware of what to ask in an interview? If so, I guess my blog article should end here, but then I would lose sleep if I didn’t give a quick refresher. So here goes…

The main principal when interviewing is to keep the questions role and competency focussed and decisions ‘merit based’. Asking questions around qualifications, skills and experience required for the role and exploring the candidate’s alignment to the company’s culture and values is where managers need to focus. These are what make up the selection criteria.

Understanding the selection criteria before developing interview questions is integral to the outcome of your interview- that is – by being confident in your decision to recruit that person or not and the objective reasons why.

So pretty much any questions around age, sexuality, race, pregnancy or physical features etc, are off the table and for a very good reason…It doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from or what you believe in, it’s about finding out via well-constructed interview questions if the candidate has the right skills, experience, qualifications and organisational culture and values fit for the job.

That’s how you get the right person for the right job!

Well-constructed interview questions are obviously NOT the ones that attract yes or no answers, these are questions that encourage the candidate to talk about past work life experiences by giving examples of where they have ‘demonstrated’ a particular skill or had to explain how they handled a past situation, which according to many HR experts is a good indicator of future behaviour in the workplace…. Yes my friends I am talking about behavioural based interviewing.

Questions starting with “tell me about a time when you…” and “give me an example of when you….” Are all hallmarks of the behavioural based interviewing technique.

Questions starting with “if you…” often end up with hypothetical responses which in other words ‘you will be told what you want to hear’. Could you trust a response like? You just wouldn’t know and do you want to take an expensive gamble on that?….between half and two-thirds of the employee’s annual salary…???….???. You get the drift.

So understanding the selection criteria and getting the questions right before asking them is important when interviewing potential employees. Behavioural based interview questions will help uncover the fakers and boost your confidence when making your final decision. Steer well clear of questions that may breach anti-discrimination laws and ensure there is a balance of questions addressing the candidates’ level of experience, skills, and values and cultural fit.

Should you need help or advice with recruitment, including assistance with interview questions or selection criteria, please give HR Gurus a call today. We can help.

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