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Minuteman
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20 Apr 2021, 8:43 pm

For the first time in my life, I am going to be interviewing job candidates at work. Anybody have experience being on that end of things? I'm really apprehensive about saying or doing something that will get my company in trouble. I know questions about age and sexual orientation are out, but I worry about inadvertently asking a question that does these things through the back door (i.e. asking someone when they graduated college can be considered a way to determine age; asking their marital status could be considered a way to determine sexual orientation). Anybody have advice?



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21 Apr 2021, 12:43 am

I have interviewed quite a lot of applicants for jobs.
I tend to stay away from the subjects you mention, not because it may be insensetive but because its irrelevant.
I don't usually talk much about specifics regarding the job, usually it's clear from their CV if they have the knowlege required.
Instead I ask about everyday things, I try to get to know him/her.
"What do you do on vacations?", "What was the last book you read?", even silly stuff like "Whats your favourite color?".
The answers are not that important, its more of a way to try to figure out if the person will fit in the group.

/Mats


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shortfatbalduglyman
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21 Apr 2021, 7:56 am

Plenty of job interviewers asked me "where were you born?" And "how old are you?"

In some locations it is illegal to take a tape recorder without written consent

Anyone can try to file a civil lawsuit against anyone for anything. In the united states'

The outcome not guaranteed

You could come up with a list of questions to ask each applicant



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21 Apr 2021, 10:39 am

mohsart wrote:
I have interviewed quite a lot of applicants for jobs.

For what kinds of jobs, in what general categories of professions/occupations?

(If it's the kind of job where the ability to make small talk with customers is very important, then ignore my very negative reaction to something else you said below.)

mohsart wrote:
I tend to stay away from the subjects you mention, not because it may be insensetive but because its irrelevant.

Sounds good so far. However ....

mohsart wrote:
I don't usually talk much about specifics regarding the job, usually it's clear from their CV if they have the knowledge required.

Really? Stuff on a CV can be faked, can't it? Furthermore, even if the CV is totally genuine, paper qualifications don't necessarily tell you very much about the person's actual knowledge or problem-solving abilities, it seems to me.

Once, when I got a job as an electronic engineer back in the 1980's, my new boss told me that, out of all the candidates he interviewed, I was the only one who could answer basic questions about what voltage, current, and resistance are and apply the relevant formulas. The other candidates SHOULD have known these things, but they didn't, for whatever reason.

mohsart wrote:
Instead I ask about everyday things, I try to get to know him/her.
"What do you do on vacations?", "What was the last book you read?", even silly stuff like "Whats your favourite color?".
The answers are not that important, its more of a way to try to figure out if the person will fit in the group.

/Mats

Ugh! Sounds VERY bad for autistic people, or for anyone who is culturally non-mainstream in any significant way, or even just for ordinary people who happen to be nervous about job interviews, as many people are. Why do you want to exclude such people?

I can see how a person's personality as revealed in general chitchat might be important for a sales job or for some other customer-facing jobs, but for any other kind of job?


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 21 Apr 2021, 1:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Mona Pereth
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21 Apr 2021, 10:43 am

Minuteman wrote:
For the first time in my life, I am going to be interviewing job candidates at work. Anybody have experience being on that end of things?

I was once involved in hiring a bunch of tutors at a local college. In that context it was important to get a feel for how good they were at explaining stuff.

I think that the kinds of questions you should ask will vary a lot with the type of job.

It might be a good idea, for example, to ask how the person would handle some particular type of problematic situation that is likely to come up on the job.

What kinds of positions will you be hiring people for?


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21 Apr 2021, 2:37 pm

I used questions that require explanation, so I can determine how well the person communicates with others, and how they express their feelings.

"Tell us about your interests."

"What was the most exciting thing you ever did?"

"What was the most miserable thing you ever experienced?

"Tell us what you have done to solve a problem you were having with another person."

"Why do you want to work here? Please elaborate..."


These are just examples, and the wording may be different.

We already know how well-qualified the candidate may be in relation to their skills and education.  Heck, for some government-related positions, a full legal background check is also in order.  The point is, that if a trained monkey could do the job, we still want that monkey to get along with its co-workers.


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Mona Pereth
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21 Apr 2021, 4:08 pm

Fnord wrote:
I used questions that require explanation, so I can determine how well the person communicates with others, and how they express their feelings.

[...]

"Tell us what you have done to solve a problem you were having with another person."

That's actually an important question for any job that involves teamwork. You need people who can resolve their issues with each other in a reasonable way.

Fnord wrote:
"Why do you want to work here? Please elaborate..."

That too is an obviously relevant and important question.

On the other hand, as for some of the other questions you mentioned....

Fnord wrote:
"Tell us about your interests."

"What was the most exciting thing you ever did?"

These questions could easily come across to the interviewee as an attempt to discriminate against people with nonmainstream hobbies/interests. Admittedly such people aren't a legally protected class, but such questions are likely to intimidate some people who would otherwise be excellent employees. Questions like this are one of the reasons why I have always dreaded job interviews.

Also, while non-mainstream hobbies per se are not a legally-protected class, it seems to me that the question might be legally problematic if the person's interests happen to revolve around their religion (or lack thereof).

Fnord wrote:
"What was the most miserable thing you ever experienced?

An extremely nosy, personal question in my opinion. Might be appropriate for some kinds of jobs, e.g. psychotherapists maybe? But otherwise, yuck!

[EDIT: See also kraftiekortie's post below this one.]

Fnord wrote:
These are just examples, and the wording may be different.

We already know how well-qualified the candidate may be in relation to their skills and education.

Based on ... what? Anything besides paper qualifications and (possibly faked) references?

Fnord wrote:
Heck, for some government-related positions, a full legal background check is also in order.

Hopefully the candidate is given an opportunity to correct any errors in the background check?

Fnord wrote:
The point is, that if a trained monkey could do the job, we still want that monkey to get along with its co-workers.

But do you need it to be the life of the party with its co-workers, or just be able to communicate clearly and resolve misunderstandings with its co-workers? These are two very different sets of skills.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 21 Apr 2021, 5:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

kraftiekortie
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21 Apr 2021, 4:51 pm

I truly doubt anybody would tell an interviewer their "most miserable thing that had happened to them." Especially if it's something like sexual abuse.



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21 Apr 2021, 5:09 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
I truly doubt anybody would tell an interviewer their "most miserable thing that had happened to them." Especially if it's something like sexual abuse.

Thanks for saying, more eloquently than I did, what's wrong with that question.

IMO the question is downright cruel.


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21 Apr 2021, 6:16 pm

To me the question feels like asking "how do you react when unexpectedly pressed against a wall and forced to make something up?".


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21 Apr 2021, 6:24 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
"Tell us about your interests."

"What was the most exciting thing you ever did?"
These questions could easily come across to the interviewee as an attempt to discriminate against people with nonmainstream hobbies/interests.↓ Admittedly such people aren't a legally protected class, but such questions are likely to intimidate some people who would otherwise be excellent employees. Questions like this are one of the reasons why I have always dreaded job interviews.  Also, while non-mainstream hobbies per se are not a legally-protected class, it seems to me that the question might be legally problematic if the person's interests happen to revolve around their religion (or lack thereof).
Believe me, all questions are thoroughly vetted through our Legal Department.
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
"What was the most miserable thing you ever experienced?
An extremely nosy, personal question in my opinion. Might be appropriate for some kinds of jobs, e.g., psychotherapists maybe? But otherwise, yuck!
The answers the person gives and the way the person answers these questions is important.  Do their interests involve violence (i.e., gun or knife collecting, for example)?  People attracted to violence and weapons tend to exhibit violence and use those weapons when committing violent acts.  Does the person show enthusiasm and engagement when discussing his or her interests, or does the person just shrug off the question and say, "Nothing much"?  A person with no outside interests often cannot relate to others who do.  As for misery ... does the person state a simple fact ("I was in labor for 23 hours.") or do they dwell on how nobody likes them, everybody hates them, and how they wish they could show others how wrong they are?  If the former, it is up to them how much detail they wish to relate; if the latter ... well ... we eventually wrap up the interview and call in the next candidate.
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
We already know how well-qualified the candidate may be in relation to their skills and education.
Based on ... what? Anything besides paper qualifications and (possibly faked) references?
No, on the background checks -- school records, police records, newspaper articles, weblogs.  For the high-security contracts, parts of the background checks may be legally provided by government agencies.
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
Heck, for some government-related positions, a full legal background check is also in order.
Hopefully the candidate is given an opportunity to correct any errors in the background check?
The candidate should do that BEFORE seeking employment, not after.
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
The point is, that if a trained monkey could do the job, we still want that monkey to get along with its co-workers.
But do you need it to be the life of the party with its co-workers, or just be able to communicate clearly and resolve misunderstandings with its co-workers? These are two very different sets of skills.
The abilities to communicate clearly and work well with others are essential.  We do not "party" on the job.


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21 Apr 2021, 8:39 pm

Fnord wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
We already know how well-qualified the candidate may be in relation to their skills and education.
Based on ... what? Anything besides paper qualifications and (possibly faked) references?

No, on the background checks -- school records, police records, newspaper articles, weblogs. For the high-security contracts, parts of the background checks may be legally provided by government agencies.

None of which proves that the person didn't cheat their way through college, for example. Or that they didn't find a way to fake their way through their last job, somehow without (yet) getting caught.

At one company I worked for as an EE, there was an alleged "engineer" who worked there for several months and then moved on, probably to another job. He left behind a schematic and a breadboard that, as far as anybody could tell, were just bunches of electronic components thrown randomly together, doing nothing in particular.

So it seems to me that, with technical employees in particular, you really do need to verify that they have the technical knowledge they claim. It baffles me that some employers don't realize this, preferring instead to focus on things like how good a prospective employee is at irrelevant small talk.

Maybe that's why some corporations are so screwed up ....

Later I might (if I have time) respond to other aspects of your post.


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22 Apr 2021, 9:02 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
We already know how well-qualified the candidate may be in relation to their skills and education.
Based on ... what? Anything besides paper qualifications and (possibly faked) references?
No, on the background checks -- school records, police records, newspaper articles, weblogs. For the high-security contracts, parts of the background checks may be legally provided by government agencies.
None of which proves that the person didn't cheat their way through college, for example. Or that they didn't find a way to fake their way through their last job, somehow without (yet) getting caught...
Which is why many corporations have probationary periods ranging from 30 days to 6 months after date-of-hire, during which the employee can be dismissed without warning.

Despite the most stringent screening methods, some slackers will still slip through.  Eventually, however, their lack of productivity, bad attitude, or poor behavior will reveal itself, and no amount of smooth talking or excuse-making will help them.  This is a risk every corporation faces, and the goal is to minimize that risk.

The last time I had someone dismissed was about two years ago, when I caught an employee of one of our sub-contractors poking around where he was not authorized to be.  That sub-contractor has since tightened their screening process and we have not had a problem with them since.


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22 Apr 2021, 11:20 am

Fnord wrote:
Which is why many corporations have probationary periods ranging from 30 days to 6 months after date-of-hire, during which the employee can be dismissed without warning.

Despite the most stringent screening methods, some slackers will still slip through.  Eventually, however, their lack of productivity, bad attitude, or poor behavior will reveal itself, and no amount of smooth talking or excuse-making will help them.  This is a risk every corporation faces, and the goal is to minimize that risk.

The last time I had someone dismissed was about two years ago, when I caught an employee of one of our sub-contractors poking around where he was not authorized to be.  That sub-contractor has since tightened their screening process and we have not had a problem with them since.

Well, good for you!

Do you hire engineers or other technical people directly, or only via subcontractors? For what kinds of jobs do you hire people directly?

Back in the 1980's, according to what I heard from my bosses at two different companies on Long Island, there were an awful lot of "engineers" running around who looked very good on paper, yet were lacking in even the most basic technical knowledge. Moreover, such "engineers" vastly outnumbered engineers who actually had the technical knowledge they claimed. So of course the main purpose of a job interview was to verify that the person had the technical knowledge they claimed and could talk intelligently about their claimed past experience, if any.

Anyhow, it seems to me that the kind of job interview you said you do, which does not focus on the job itself at all, is, to say the least, extremely unfriendly to autistic people. More about this later, if and when I have time to discuss it.


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22 Apr 2021, 11:29 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Do you hire engineers or other technical people directly, or only via subcontractors? For what kinds of jobs do you hire people directly?
People are interviewed only after they are screened by an outside agency.  We use only those agencies that have demonstrated at least a minimal understanding of our needs.  Even then, I still administer a test that is based on the Amateur Radio Technician Class Licensing Exam.  It has caught people who seem to have bluffed their way through college and the outside screening process, and revealed some real geniuses.  Guess which ones receive an offer of employment?


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22 Apr 2021, 12:11 pm

Fnord wrote:
People are hired after they are screened by an outside agency.  We use only those agencies that have demonstrated at least a minimal understanding of our needs.  Even then, I still administer a test that is based on the Amateur Radio Technician Class Licensing Exam.  It has caught people who seem to have bluffed their way through college and the outside screening process, and revealed some real geniuses.  Guess which ones receive an offer of employment?

Okay, so you do screen for technical knowledge, but you just do that via a written test rather than via the interview.

Still it surprises me that you wouldn't, as part of the interview itself, want to get more of a feel for how the person would apply that knowledge, especially when interviewing for a non-entry-level position.


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