Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts

One of the most difficult tasks for a small business is the employment/selection process, hiring new talent (or talent acquisition as commonly referred to today).  Unless you are contracting your entire search and selection process with a third-party, there are some basics that you need to know regarding the selection process as it relates to complying with the relevant laws.


  • Ask questions that are related to the specific job duties, work schedule and physical/mental requirements of the job. This, of course, means that the interview questions must be tailored to each position to be filled. It also means that you should work from an up-to-date job description for each job to be filled.
  • It is good practice to have every person that you interview complete an employment application. This provides documentation from the candidate concerning their qualifications, and, if the proper “signature block” is included in the application, it puts them on notice regarding how long their application will be active (i.e. kept on file and considered for further openings), pre-employment background checks to be conducted, employment-at-will status of the job, and other legal protections for your business (this will be further explained in a later post about employment application forms).
  • Use a standardized evaluation process in choosing the best candidate(s) for the position.  In other words, evaluate each candidate based on the same criteria, which are based on the specific requirements for that position. Keep a record of this evaluation as it pertains to each candidate.


  • Don’t ask if the candidate has a disability, and don’t ask if they need accommodation unless the disability is self-evident (such as they are in a wheelchair or are blind or deaf). You can only ask if they can perform the duties of the job with or without  accommodation.
  • Don’t tell a candidate that they are overqualified for the position. There should be no such thing as overqualified. They are either qualified or not qualified. The salary requirements of the candidate may exceed your salary range for that position, in which case the candidate is not a fit.
  • If a candidate volunteers information that you should not know (you would not have asked the question as it is unlawful), don’t pursue it further and don’t keep a note regarding that information. For instance, if the candidate tells you that they have to pick up their children from daycare following the interview, this should be disregarded (asking for marital status and number of children pre-hire is typically unlawful).
  • Don’t ask questions that are not job-related, especially those that can be found to be discriminatory. For example, you can ask if an applicant has a high school diploma or equivalent if that is a job-related requirement; however, you cannot ask what year they graduated. The latter indicates to the interviewer the applicant’s age, and age is rarely an allowable, job-related criteria (e.g., it can be in the case of public safety positions or airline pilots).

For more information, see “Keep the Interview Legal” by
Louise Kursmark, Monster Contributing Writer,

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) has published a list of allowed and disallowed interview questions. It provides examples of lawful and questionable inquiries. The law is not intended to prohibit employers from obtaining the information about applicants that is clearly job-related and not used for discriminatory purposes.

Published by Dave Waldorf

Former Human Resource and legal professional specializing in HR compliance advisory services. Finding my new life in Arizona with my wife of 43 years and our two shelties.

One thought on “Interviewing Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thanks, However I am experiencing problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


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