How (Not) to Interview

How to Interview and Hire Productive PeopleHow to Interview and Hire Productive People

Submitter: I recently weeded this from the public library where I work. The majority of the book consists of suggested interview questions that managers can ask to assess job applicants’ “hidden qualities”. However, many of the questions would probably land an interviewer in hot water these days.
I especially enjoyed comparing the list of questions the authors say are illegal to ask with the list of questions that they actually do suggest asking. I am sure that in their mind there was some reason why “What is your marital status?” and “Does your husband mind you working?” are off limits for a job interview but “What does your spouse think of this job you are applying for?” and “Do you often regret your marriage?” are OK. I can’t, however, imagine what that reason would be!

Holly: The health considerations chapter (below) is awful too. “What is the most serious sickness you have ever had?” and “Have you ever had any surgery?” Sometimes you wish you could ask certain things in an interview, but DON’T DO IT! Just look them up on Facebook and get the dirt that way. (Kids, either set your Facebook statuses to private or don’t post personal information. Employers ARE looking you up.)

The Candidate's Present Family Life

Family Stability

Laws and employment policy

Questions to Avoid


  1. I clearly remember seeing questions about past surgeries and current or planned pregnancies on job applications in the 70s. And planned pregnancy ALWAYS came up in the interview.

  2. “Questions like these are off limits. Even if you don’t use them to discriminate…they may cause people to fee that their responses could have a negative affect on their chances of getting the job.”
    Apparently, when the editor for this book was interviewed, the ability to discriminate between “affect” and “effect” was not a factor in the hiring process.

  3. What a difference 30 years makes! Those are definitely some pretty frightening questions that, thankfully, wouldn’t get asked today – by anyone wanting to stay our of court. I assure you, we don’t recommend such questions any more 🙂 If you want to see what we’re espousing today for effective interviewing, you can visit our website at Maybe business books should come with an expiry date? 🙂

  4. Maybe it’s the questions that would be considered illegal nowadays, maybe I’ve been spending too much time on Tumblr, but I’ve decided to “ship” this book with Every Woman’s Legal Guide. They shall get drunk on homemade wine, make homemade soap, learn how to do taxidermy in the comfort of their own home, and then there’ll be that one night with their friend Mayonnaise that don’t talk about anymore….

  5. This reminds me of the beginning of the Mary Tyler Moore show, when she’s interviewing with Lou Grant. He asks her what her religion is, and she replies something like that’s private. When he moves on to the next question–I think it’s whether she’s married–she finally blurts out, “Presbyterian!”

  6. If you have to describe your own institute as “prestigious”, it’s not prestigious.

  7. …”Do you often regret your marriage?” ….I don’t think I would even ask that of a family member! So…AWKWARD!!

Comments are closed.