As you grow your own business, you’ll soon be looking for the right candidates who can help you take your company to the next level. There are dozens of valuable qualities in a new employee that you can use to your advantage, but uncovering those strengths can be difficult. You have a resume in your hand that probably doesn’t do the person justice. So you schedule an interview to get to know your potential candidates a bit better.

Phone interviews are a great way to qualify your potential hires without investing a huge amount of time or money. This first step is the best opportunity to weed out the MVPs from the LVPs, but you need to make sure that you’re on top of your game also. If you’re new to the hiring process, take a look at some of the worst interview questions below and avoid them at all costs!

1. Don’t Ask Illegal Interview Questions

As the interviewer, you never want to offend your applicants (or bring on a lawsuit) by asking illegal interview questions. These include questions about an applicant’s personal life such as their race, religion, age, marital status, disabilities, etc. You don’t want to pry too much into an applicant’s life outside of work. There are plenty of ways to get the information that you need.

It is important to ask questions that are related to whether or not an applicant can perform specific tasks related to the job.

For example, instead of “Do you have a car?” try asking, “This job may require you to come in early and stay late. Are you able to meet the necessary time commitments?”

2. Don’t Ask Leading Questions

If you really want to get to the crème of the crop, give your candidates a challenge. Leading questions such as, “Our sales pitches usually require a visual element. Would you add a visual element to a sales pitch?” should be avoided as much as possible.

Part of your job as an interviewer is to make sure that the applicants really have the skills and experience you need.

So, don’t give them the answer and be surprised when they show up at work and aren’t nearly as effective as you expected.

Try asking questions about how they’d handle common situations or give them a simulation to work through.

3. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions

Yes or no questions offer very little insight into your applicant’s experience and skill set. Picking between two answers is overly simplistic and non-challenging. Give your candidates meatier questions that require more in-depth analysis.

Ask open-ended questions that allow the applicant to select his/her best qualities or professional experiences that relate to the job at hand. Qualified job applicants should be able to think on their feet and come up with complex answers by listing examples, highlighting several key points, and addressing the entire question efficiently and thoroughly.

4. Don’t Ask Inappropriate Questions

I had a hiring manager who would randomly ask long division questions in his sales interviews. It invariably threw the candidate off and left a weird taste in their mouth about him and the company. I tried to talk him out of doing it, but he really loved it and thought it showed him how good people were at math.

True, math skills were important in the job, but they would have been verified more accurately with a pre-hire project of using blueprints to do take-offs and create an estimate, rather than randomly asking what 96 divided by 12 was. Likewise, don’t ask about management experience if the role doesn’t have any direct reports and don’t ask about prospecting experience if you are hiring an inbound sales person.

Keep your questions focused on the skills and experiences needed to do this job well.

5. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Finally, always remember to keep a professional demeanor during the interview process, stay focused on the job and its requirements, and remember that both the interviewer and the applicant use interviews to determine if it’s a good fit.

Applicants won’t pursue a job opportunity if the interview is painful or unpleasant, and you don’t want to lose out on a great candidate due to mistakes made during the interview process. Do most of the work ahead of time and only interview people that are a strong fit in the first place.

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