5 Questions Recruiters Should Never Ask

Many companies have outsourced some of their HR functions by hiring professional recruiters to identify and screen potential new hires. These recruiters can be valuable assets, as they specialize in this area of Human Resources, but they can also be a liability, as they are the first impression potential hires get of your company, and these potential hires may associate these recruiters with your organization, even though the recruiters don’t work for you.


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Because recruiters’ incentives are different from those of an internal hiring manager, they care more about placements and not necessarily long-term value, and they may rush to fill positions and, in doing so, offend potential hires and sour their opinion of your organization.
Even if you don’t use outside recruiters, it’s important to refrain from asking the following five questions during the hiring process.

1. What Are You Earning Now?

Although this is a very inappropriate question, it’s one that is asked frequently. It implies an applicant’s salary will be based on past compensation, which is actually illegal in some jurisdictions.

2. What’s the Lowest Salary You Would Accept?

Salary is only one part of the compensation picture; factors like bonuses and benefits are also important to candidates. Asking the above question may make candidates feel like your organization is trying to lowball them and may make them think your company is cheap.

3. What Is Your Personal Financial Situation? (or ‘Do You Own Your Own Home?’)

Some recruiters ask this to get an idea of the stability or responsibility of a candidate, but it’s extremely personal and not appropriate in the recruitment context.

4. What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With? Where Are You in Each of Those Recruiting Pipelines?

This is not a question recruiters should ask or that candidates should have to answer, despite the reason recruiters give for asking it. “Nobody needs to know which other companies you’re interviewing with,” says Liz Ryan, author and CEO/founder of Human Workplace, in an article for Forbes. “Let them do their own market research. It’s not your job to fill people in on the state of the hiring market!”

5. Can My Client Talk to Your Current Boss?

Although in some uncommon situations, applicants may not care if their employer knows they are looking for another job, most often, this is something employees don’t want their bosses to know for obvious reasons.
In a jobseeker’s market, it’s especially important for companies to be careful in how they treat potential job candidates, and a bad experience for someone can easily reach the eyes and ears of countless others through word of mouth and social media. Therefore, it’s necessary for recruiters to know what kinds of questions are off limits.
To learn more about today’s top legal risks in the recruiting process, join Billy Hammel for the morning pre-conference session: “Today’s Top Legal Risks in Sourcing, Recruiting, and Hiring: How to Avoid Liability Stemming from Online Recruiting, ATS Algorithms and Protocols, and other EEO-related Traps.Register for this May event, being held in Austin, Texas, today!

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