10 Things IT Managers Should NOT Ask During A Job Interview

by drjim on September 12, 2013

Things not to say during a job interview

Things not to say during a job interview
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As IT managers sometimes we tend to think that we know it all – that we have all of the IT manager skills that we need. This can be dangerous, especially when it comes to conducting job interviews. If you don’t have the right IT manager training then what goes on during a job interview just might land both you and your company in court and that’s something that nobody wants. Let’s take a look at what you must never say during a job interview.

10 Things To Never Ask During A Job Interview

As IT managers we are naturally curious about anyone who has applied to join our team. Why do they want to join? What have they done in the past? Who are they? These are all natural questions; however, rules and regulations have been established to limit the types of questions that we can ask when interviewing a candidate for a job .

Although none of us likes to feel as though a conversation that we are going to be having is restricted in any way, it turns out that the rules surrounding job interviews are actually a good thing. What everyone is trying to avoid is having a job candidate be rejected for the wrong reasons – things have nothing to do with their ability to perform the job.

So what can’t you talk about during a job interview? It turns out that anything having to do with a person’s physical nature, their religious or political beliefs, or where they came from are all off limits. Just to get a bit more granular, here are 10 topics that you need to steer clear of during your next job interview:

  • Age: This is a big red flag – many companies have been sued because a job applicant believed that they were turned down because they were too old. Don’t try to get clever and ask questions about what year they were born in, that’s the same thing as asking how old they are.
  • Religion: This is a bit tricky. You cannot ask about someone’s religion and you can’t ask them if they are going to take time off for their religious holidays. However, you can say that ” …this job requires you to work over the weekend sometimes, do you have any responsibilities that would conflict with this requirement?” Note that this question has nothing to do with religion.
  • Marital Status: If someone is married, divorced, or not married that should have nothing to do with their ability to perform the job that they are interviewing for. This means you need to stay away from these questions and not ask roundabout questions like “what does your husband / wife do for a living?”
  • Children: Asking about children is a natural part of any conversation that we often have with someone when we are meeting them for the first time. However, you need to stay away from this one during a job interview. Don’t even ask questions about any child care arrangements that they might have to make if they got the job – that’s the same as if you asked if they had children.
  • Race: Hopefully I don’t have to tell you that asking any questions about race is off limits. This can sometimes slip into a conversation if an applicant is of a mixed race – their background can be a normal conversation topic. Make sure that you don’t go there. Additionally, in this era of digital images, make sure that submitting a photo is not a part of any job interview. It would be too easy to say that you had discriminated against a job candidate based on what you saw in their photo.
  • Gender / Sexual Orientation: Clearly off limits. In this day and age, the number of possible sexual orientations that a job candidate might have has become a very long list. This has nothing to do with how well they could perform the job that you are interviewing them for and so don’t ask about it.
  • National Origin: What country a candidate was born in or where they are from is not something that you should discuss during a job interview. This can be a tricky one to avoid. Don’t ask about where a last name came from or where their parents grew up.
  • Citizenship: Unless the job that the candidate is interviewing for requires specific citizenship, stay away from this one. The good news here is that you can ask the question “If hired, are you legally authorized to work in this country?”
  • Handicap: Careful here. Even if the candidate’s handicap is very obvious, you can’t ask any questions about it. Keep in mind that a handicap may not be obvious. It could be physical, mental, or it could be related to alcoholism, drug addiction, or even AIDS. A valid question to ask would go like this “Would you be able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?”
  • Arrests: You might find this one just a bit strange, but unless the candidate is applying for a security related job, you are not permitted to ask them any questions about prior arrests or convictions.

What All Of This Means For You

Finding the right person to join your team, just like doing IT team building, is a tough job. The job interview is your one chance to really probe and discover if they have what it is going to take in order to be a successful member of your team. However, danger lurks during any job interview.

During a job interview with a prospective candidate, an IT manager needs to be very careful to stay away from any questions that have to do with the candidate’s personal life. Instead, all of your questions need to have a laser like focus on the duties associated with the position that you are trying to fill and the professional skills that this candidate will be able to apply to the job.

All of the rules and laws that surround the job interview process may seem like a burden some of the time. However, it turns out that these rules are in place to help you out as much as they are there to help the candidate out. By keeping your questions focused on what really matters, how the candidate would do the job, you’ll become a better interviewer and you’ll end up hiring better team members.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: What should you do if you realize that you’ve asked an inappropriate question?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As an IT manager you are hoping you can use your IT manager skills in order to ensure that your team will be successful. That they’ll be able to complete the work assignments that you are given on time, under budget, and at a high quality. That’s a great goal; however, why is it that all too often IT teams fail? It turns out that there are 3 main reasons that an IT team can fail and you had better know what they are if you want to avoid making these mistakes.

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