Interview Questions Dos and Don’ts

What can you say?

Things are changing, and new laws are going into effect this year. Know what you can and cannot ask, and rethink your process with our quick guide.


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Hiring Best Practices: What you can, can't, and should be saying

New ideas and good reminders as you staff up for 2019

Schedulehead isn’t just a tool for scheduling and paying your employees, it can also be very useful in the hiring and retention of your staff. Our clients are typically in high turnover industries, which can make the hiring process that much more important.


Before the Hiring Process

This is the time to decide for yourself how important the actual hiring process is, really rethink this for a moment. Maybe that short amount of time you’re spending with a candidate isn’t all that important. Maybe because the speed you’re hiring at, you don’t actually have the time to do a quality interview with each person, or perhaps that’s not even necessary at all. With many businesses, it’s perfectly fine to just weed out the poor candidates during an initial interview, and then evaluate their performance on the job as the real deciding factor. This is called a Working Interview.

Although it seems obvious, this is a good reminder to put additional thought into what you’re looking for in your candidates. If you’ve decided you want go-getters with energy (or perhaps you just need bodies!), that’s a start, but interpersonal issues are guaranteed to arise in the workplace. This is a good time to ask some behavioral questions that can give you better insight into the candidate, and ascertain how their going to handle things like teamwork, client/guest interaction, communication with their coworkers, and problem solving skills.

Here’s a few examples of behavioral based interview questions:

  • Give an example of a time you made a mistake, and what did you do afterwards?
  • Have you ever had to make an unpopular decision or handle a difficult situation? How did it go?
  • Give an example of when you had to work on several projects at the same time. How did you handle that?
  • Here’s a list we’ve found of 100 great behavioral interview questions to get your juices flowing.

Just the process of asking some of these questions will show you how well the candidate is listening and thinking, or if they’re just firing off a canned response to your anticipated questions. Remember, what you’re looking for here is the candidates ability to listen, process, and respond intelligently, demonstrating their problem solving and or interpersonal skills.


During the Hiring Process

One-on-one and in-depth interviews, group interviews, or no interviews at all, each has a specific purpose. Remember that some candidates will present well, know all the right things to say, and perform poorly when it comes time. No matter how you conduct this portion, make sure you’re investing an appropriate amount of time into this part of the process: it’s just as easy to over invest as it is to under invest.

Everyone knows that you can’t ask about a person’s religion, race, and age. I think that’s pretty pretty beaten into anyone by this point in time. However, it’s easy to slip up on some of the lesser known prohibited subjects, especially when the phrasing may seem innocent.See how easy it is to cross the line with these questions:

  • Where’s your last name from?
  • Does your spouse work?
  • Have you ever used unemployment or disability?
  • How much did you make at your last job?
  • Do you own your own home?
  • Are you a US (or UK) citizen?
    Questions about citizenship or national origin are generally not permitted in both the US and UK. However, you can ask if they are eligible to work in the country. The same rule can apply to asking if English is the candidates first language. 
  • When did you graduate high school? (or your regional equivalent)
    Although this question is quite directly asking a candidate’s age, which is generally illegal, you may be allowed to ask a candidate if they are over the minimum age if one is required to perform the job. For example, you may ask candidates intended to work at a bar if they are “21 years of age or over”.

If you’re located in more progressive California, you’re likely aware there’s additional protections afforded to candidates under the law. For example, you also cannot inquire about a candidates criminal history, this may even extend to asking whether or not they are a felon. There’s some caveats to this, though, so you should probably read up on California Fair Chance Act (AB 1008) – “Ban the Box”.

And those of you in New York City, you soon won’t be able to discriminate based on hairstyle. Aimed at helping the discrimination surrounding the black community, the human rights commission of NYC specifically grants people to have “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids Bantu knots, fades, Afros …”


After the Hiring Process

The post hiring process is just as important as anything preceding it. Whether you’re hiring on the spot, doing multiple in-depth interviews, or conducting working interviews, this is where you can now see your candidate in the real work environment. Use Schedulehead to track your new employees performance using our rating system. If you’re using worker interviews, this will give you real-time feedback not just on how their performing and where they may need improvement, but also if they’re late to shifts. Combine this data with time tracking reports, and you’ve got a surefire way to cultivate top tier candidates and weed out the non-performers.

Schedulehead can add value to the entire chain, so be creative, and contact your Client Success Engineer for more advice on how it can be a better fit.