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Interviewing New Talent? Questions You Can and Can’t Ask

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What You Need to Know

  • Some job candidates mislead prospective employers with their resumes, intentionally or not.
  • There are legal restrictions in six areas on the type of interview questions you may ask.
  • Here are ways to turn potentially litigious questions into insightful, legal alternatives.

Resumes can be overrated and probably will be obsolete soon. But in an interview, you need to learn as much as you can about a candidate, including their exact experience.

While most candidates don’t try to intentionally mislead, some do. In fact, they’ve taken great liberties with how they have structured their career history and responsibilities on their resume. Further, they may not even realize they’re overstating their qualifications because they don’t have perspective on what other certified financial planner programs offer instead.

To help determine if the candidate has the experience you seek in an advisory role, here are some questions to ask:

  • How many financial plans have you done from start to finish?
  • How many financial plan updates have you done?

To help determine if they have had the responsibility you seek in the technical functions of the role, ask:

  • When you aren’t sure how to enter something into the financial planning software, what do you do?
  • When a client asks you a technical question you don’t know the answer to, how do you handle it?

To help determine if they have the experience you need in the sales functions of the role, ask:

  • How many prospect meetings have you been involved in? What percent contribution did you make?
  • How many client relationships have you brought to the firm?

But Don’t Ask These Questions

The goal of an interview is to obtain vital information to determine if the candidate will be a good match. However, as tempting as it may be to engage in friendly conversation during the interview, there are legal restrictions in six areas on the type of questions you may ask.

Here are ways to turn potentially litigious questions into insightful, legal alternatives for those areas.

Nationality

No: Are you a U.S. Citizen?

Yes: Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?

Religion

No: What are your religious beliefs?

Yes: Are you able to work our required schedule?

Age

No: How much longer do you plan to work before retiring?

Yes: What are your long-term career goals?

Marital & Family Status

No: Do you have children or plan to have children?

Yes: Are you available to travel or work overtime occasionally?

Gender

No: How do you feel about working with men/women?

Yes: Have you ever been disciplined for your behavior at work?

Health & Physical Abilities 

No: Do you have any physical disabilities or health problems?

Yes: Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?

No: Why have you not been vaccinated?

Yes: We have implemented a vaccination strategy to achieve 100% vaccinations for everyone in the office. If you are not currently vaccinated, do you have any opposition to this strategy?

No: When are you going to provide proof of your vaccination status?

Yes: If we offered a safe and confidential method, separate from your personnel file to store a copy of your vaccination card, would you be comfortable providing us with a copy?

Important note: It is not illegal to ask, but you have to ensure the employee is in control of disclosing the information without feeling pressured or threatened.

Additionally, although not illegal, you want to avoid questions about salaries, residence, legal affairs and military service. Instead, provide the candidate with the salary range and ask if they are comfortable with it, ask about their ability to arrive to work at the scheduled time, ask if they have ever been convicted of a specific crime or how their military experience could benefit the company.

Image: Adobe Stock


Caleb Brown is co-founder and CEO of New Planner Recruiting and hosts The New Planner Podcast.