Legal Interview Questions

There are many ways to get answers from job applicants
with the right legal interview questions.

Employers may be restricted by law to ask certain questions, but if you phrase the question differently, you can get the answer to what you wish to know.

Our guidelines are aimed to ensure you pose interview questions without showing any bias.

interview room, law books and gavel

The basis of an interview is an accurate job description. If you then ask legal interview questions relevant to the position and put the same question to all applicants, you should not be accused of discrimination.

Your first step could be telephone interviews to shortlist candidates.

Note: Visit our Employment main page for links to more guidelines and the free legal forms you'll need for the work place.

The interview is your opportunity to get additional information not covered in the résumé and for the applicant to learn more about the job and the company. As in the employment application forms, you may not be allowed to ask questions about the applicant's:

  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Marital Status
  • Medical History
  • Criminal Record
  • Physical Attributes

You may ask the following legal interview questions:

  • Are you of legal age to be employed in this position?
  • Do you have a valid work permit or Are you legally authorized to work in this country?
  • Would you be able to work overtime, travel or relocate?
  • How would your perform the duties as outlined in the job description e.g. lift equipment, see signals, hear warning alarms etc.?
  • Have you been convicted of theft (for a cashier's position)?
  • Do you meet our minimum height requirements (a policeman)?

Quite often you'll get the most information by posing your legal interview questions and then keeping quiet! Human nature is such that a silence is uncomfortable and the applicant may be inclined to fill it with additional talk.

The Interview

  • Put the applicant at ease with general talk but do not waste time with idle chatter.
  • Use your written job description as a guideline to structure your legal interview questions and to clarify the "essentials" and the "nice to have".
  • Ask your questions in a clear and simple manner - one question at a time. If your are not satisfied with an answer, rephrase perhaps until you are satisfied that you got the information required.
  • Applicants often list their hobbies on their resumes to indicate their broader interests. You can question them if it is relevant to the job and see if it is genuine or window dressing. If they lie about something seemingly mundane, who can guarantee the truth of other important matters?
  • Ask the applicant that should they be successful would they consent to a pre-employment polygraph test and watch their reaction. Reputable polygraph operators can help you screen applicants on criteria such as honesty, values, substance abuse etc. Check the legality of these tests in you area or industry.
  • Allow the applicant ample opportunity to ask his questions. If you answer truthfully and do not hide negative aspects you cannot be accused of misrepresentation at a later stage. Report all questions in your notes which can only be to your advantage should a dispute arise in future.
  • Does the applicant ask relevant questions about the job and the organization and did the applicant do his homework prior to the interview. Or does the applicant only want to know about the salary, days off, sick leave and increases.
  • You can warn them during the telephone interview that you will do on the spot tests such as typing, knowledge of computer accounting software or trade skills such as welding or machine operating.
  • If the résumé does not state this, attach a simple form to the free employment contracts where the applicant declares that all information supplied on his / her CV or resume is the truth and grants permission that it can be verified. Let the applicant sign this.

Questions not fully covered in the employment application form can be the following:

  • What is your current salary package and your expectations for this position?
  • What are your strong and weak points?
  • What other types of jobs or positions are you considering?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Why would you like to work for this company?
  • What are your career goals and how does this position fit in with your plans?
  • Availability.

Write up your employee evaluation and interview report immediately after the interview whilst you remember your impressions. Keep this report factual and relevant to the job and keep your personal opinions to yourself (the one time when you do not "Get it in Writing"). Do this for all applicants.

(For easy reference to find these free legal forms for employment, please refer to the Employment main page.)

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