This article on HR World – 30 Interview Questions You Can’t Ask and 30 Sneaky, Legal Alternatives to Get the Same Info – is making quite a splash on the web today. I think it is an interesting read with some excellent suggestions regarding how to phrase interview questions.
To give you a sample:
12. What you can’t ask: Do you have kids?
This one is for positions in which the candidate may work with children. The added experience of children at home may be a bonus for you, but it’s not an employer’s place to ask about this. Rather, inquire about the candidate’s experience, and they may volunteer this information to you anyway.
What to ask instead: What is your experience with “x” age group?
19. What you can’t ask: Do you smoke or drink?
As an employer, you probably want to avoid someone who has a drinking problem or will take multiple smoke breaks throughout the day. It’s even a concern for insurance. Instead of asking about this directly, find out if they’ve had trouble with health policies in the past.
What to ask instead: In the past, have you been disciplined for violating company policies forbidding the use of alcohol or tobacco products?
28. What you can’t ask: Have you ever been arrested?
In sensitive positions, like those that deal with money, you may want to find out about your candidate’s legal fortitude. But ensure that you ask only directly about crimes that relate to your concern.
What to ask instead: Have you ever been convicted of “x” (fraud, theft and so on)?
As they say, read the whole thing.