Browse All Categories
05.15.2020 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Has the Pandemic Changed the Way We Interview Potential Employees?

As many of you are starting to restructure your teams, you might find yourself in the unique position of having to interview and hire a new set of potential players that can cover multiple roles. After all, we’re all being challenged to go leaner, right?

The pandemic reminds us that there are some things you simply cannot ask in an interview. Even as a seasoned family business owner, you might be surprised to learn that health-related issues fall into the illegal category.

Check out the following guest post from my colleague Gabrielle Gardiner at Career Live just to be on the safe side.


As the effects of the pandemic on the business world continue to unfold, it’s important to be proactive while keeping an open mind and determined spirit. For family-owned businesses, this could mean restructuring to be as cost-efficient as possible. With restructuring comes the potential of letting go of certain employees while hiring for roles that can absorb the responsibilities of other positions. However, it’s not always easy for small businesses to make these kinds of tough decisions, even when it’s in the best financial interest of the company.

There’s no question that the interview process is one of the most nerve-racking parts for both the person hiring and the applicant. Interviews are hard enough without the additional fear that you could ask something technically illegal. Whether an interviewer asks illegal interview questions purposefully or not, they’re still to blame. As an interviewer, you never want to make an interview exchange awkward or confrontational. Thankfully, you can avoid an uncomfortable scenario by preparing ahead of time.

Familiarize yourself with which questions are considered illegal and which aren’t, so you’ll be empowered to ask the right questions. Think of your hiring/interview process as a representation of your business. Remember, it’s always important to check how laws might vary from state to state. For example, there are still some states where it’s legal to ask you about your previous salary (but it doesn’t mean candidates are obligated to answer.)

Interviews should allow candidates to prove they can think on their feet, but they should never give employers a reason to discriminate against them. Employers should never try to pull information out of their interviewee that they shouldn’t have to provide, even if you can tell they’ll reveal anything to secure the position. Illegal interview questions are enough to throw off even the most well-prepared candidate, so the team at LiveCareer created a graphic to explain how interviewees tend to handle them, which can be useful information for employers to keep in mind.

To view and download the graphic, click here.


For up-to-date information on how others are handling the challenges of COVID-19, please listen to some special episodes of my podcast, The Other Side of Potential: https://sharonspano.com/podcast/.

If you’re stuck and would like to schedule a one-on-one call with me, please go to: https://go.oncehub.com/crisiscoach.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. May 15, 2020