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As a senior software developer (based in the UK), my manager has me conduct interviews for junior developers alongside either himself or another senior developer. For the most part, he gives us a free rein to ask whatever questions we want to help judge a candidate's skills and personality. He has however provided a few questions for us that if the candidate gives us a "wrong answer", we cannot recommend them for a second interview, even if their strengths in other areas vastly outweigh these "wrong answers". This is the manager's decision and for now, I have to assume I cannot change his mind on being flexible with this process.

Some of these are obvious and can be answered from CVs or cover letters, such as "Are you planning any really long trips abroad in the next few months?". Others I personally feel should not instantly disqualify a candidate, such as "Do you write any blogs or do programming outside of work?", but that's another topic. Regardless of how well they impress us in other aspects, if they give a single answer the manager won't like, we aren't allowed to proceed them to the next stage. We have to just continue the interview as normal and inform them later that we have decided not to continue with their application.

Many candidates have to make special preparations to come meet us, such as sneaking away during a long lunch break or getting out of the office early. As I have been in their situation many times before, I would feel guilty about taking up more of their time than necessary, as well as leaving them waiting for a decision that has effectively already been made. On the other hand, I fear some may not react well to being told this so quickly.

My question is: would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

I should note that while I get on well with my manager 99% of the time, he is not the kind of person who would respond well to me asking "If they get one question 'wrong', should we reject them on the spot?".

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Oct 24 '18 at 20:40
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    @Jorn My manager believes the 'wrong answer' is no; that developers should have some kind of personal projects related to their work to help them stay up-to-speed with latest developments in our field. I'm not keen on this being a solid requirement but I cannot currently dispute it (especially since the closest work-related interest I have outside of work is contributing to this site and others!). – user34587 Oct 25 '18 at 7:33
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    Is not asking the question an option? – rath Oct 25 '18 at 10:41
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    I am concerned about the legality of refusing someone because they have or do not have an external blog that isn't part of the job or at all containing confidential materials. Are fellow employees told to do the same questions or do you not know? – The Great Duck Oct 27 '18 at 18:19
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    @Kozaky Although it's important to stay up to date on technologies, I just don't like the important employers put on "programming outside of work". Because for myself, I have a family that keeps me busy. Plus I'm a well rounded person who has hobbies that aren't software development. I don't program for 8 hours a day at work and come home and program. It sounds horrible. haha – CrazyPaste Nov 14 '18 at 14:24

20 Answers 20

322

First off, if a question or two is so critical, it should be asked before an interview is scheduled.

Candidate's answer during an interview disqualifies them. Is it unprofessional to immediately inform them of this?
Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

Is it unprofessional? That will depend on how you do it more so than what you do. It would be unprofessional to have them fall through a trap door or to start shouting at them to get #*@% out, but to inform them plainly that they do not meet the job requirements and that keeping them would be a disingenuous waste of their time would be professional though maybe not what they want to hear.

Digression: You may not want to inform them immediately since that would essentially give them a partial "answer key" that they could pass on to others. It would be better to ask a few questions to wind down the interview, keeping it shorter than usual, but not giving away that a particular question sank their chances.

Many candidates have to make special preparations to come meet us, such as sneaking away during a long lunch break or getting out of the office early.

I think that this underscores why perhaps you should end early, they may be taking a risk to interview and if they cannot gain employment then it cannot be worth the risk.

Candidate's answer during an interview disqualifies them. Is it unprofessional to immediately inform them of this?

Another digression (for completeness): Questions like "Are you planning any really long trips abroad in the next few months?", or Do you write any blogs or do programming outside of work?" may be foolish as disqualifying, but permissible. However if the questions that would disqualify were more along the lines of "do you plan on having children?" or "what year were you born?" then that would not only be unprofessional, but illegal and you would probably be getting an interview yourself with the relevant labor departments.

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    Upvote for asking critical questions before the interview. Our company does a phone screen before considering an on-site interview, and that's a great place to ask such a question. It'll prevent a lot of wasted time. – Kimberly W Oct 24 '18 at 17:58
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    "[I]f a question or two is so critical, it should be asked before an interview is scheduled." Specifically, it should be stated in the job advertisement so that ineligible candidates don't even waste their time applying. – David Richerby Oct 24 '18 at 20:49
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    Another reason to avoid immediately cutting the interview short, in this case, may be simply that the reason for failure (as designated by the manager) would be too crazy/bizarre to admit to the candidate with a straight face-- "I'm sorry, sport, you got a blog... that's a deal-breaker!" – teego1967 Oct 24 '18 at 21:07
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    +1 for Phone Screening, not just because it saves both parties time, but I would not recommend ending interview immediately after disqualifying answer due to safety reasons. People may "Fly off the Handle" and become aggressive. Always end with "We will let you know soon". – FreeSoftwareServers Oct 25 '18 at 1:58
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    @DavidRicherby given that "requirements" in many job advertisements are a wish list, rather than strict prerequisites (e.g. "10 years of experience with X,Y and Z for an entry-level job paying slightly above minimum wage"), many people would apply even if they don't fulfill all of them. A phone screen is a better way to enforce actual requirements. – dbkk Oct 25 '18 at 4:45
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A.K.'s answer suggests that you should ask the critical questions before the interview, over the phone. I suggest going an extra mile and making sure they are listed as requirements in your job description.

This way, fewer people who don't fit your selection criteria would even apply for a job; applicants will know beforehand what is expected from them, and can infer something about the company culture. If someone who does not fit these criteria still applies, you can dismiss them with a peace of mind: not because they do not fit the criteria, but they didn't even read the job requirements.

Finally, if you can't be transparent enough in your selection process to publish your binary criteria, you might want to rethink your criteria.

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    that's a great point. In some fields it is common to have requirements based on citizen ship, and I always saw it written clearly on the job description. – peter Oct 24 '18 at 20:35
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    @jean Complete agreement with the bolded statement. If the criteria for filling the position cannot be advertised, it makes me suspect that the criteria is meant to arbitrarily filter for what is legally or morally not accepted as criteria. – Edwin Buck Oct 25 '18 at 14:17
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    @jean aggreed, but the fact they don't write a factual "you shall not take more than x days out in your first y months" in the contract instead of asking the first example question, it seems to be in a grey area at best, something they wouldn't want to risk writing as a requirement... – Neinstein Oct 25 '18 at 16:43
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    @BenBarden OTOH, losing those prospectives early in the process is a better outcome than hiring them and then losing them once they realise what they've signed up for... – Geoffrey Brent Oct 26 '18 at 1:18
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    And just because you fit the criteria, doesn't make the prospective employee the right fit. I program outside of work, but a company making that an essential requirement would be a red flag for me and it would be waste of both our time if I found this out later in the process. – DoctorPenguin Oct 26 '18 at 9:13
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It is clearly important that 'disqualifying' questions be asked as early as possible (preferably before an interview), and that if the wrong answer is given then the candidate is politely informed as soon as possible. But I would like to add something:

It's important, when you are asking a disqualifying question, that you make it clear it is a disqualifying question.

So don't just ask "Are you planning on making any long trips in the next few months", but say "It's extremely important to our company that whoever is hired has no long absences in the first few months. Is that something you can commit to?". That leaves the candidate with the option to decide if this job is more important to them than the vacation they were hoping to take.

With programming blogs/side projects being mandatory (and therefore something the developer can't fix), the only professional way to handle this is to ask about them before the interview, and make it clear to them that failing to list this will prevent them proceeding further.

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    IMO this is the best answer. The candidate has the chance to reform and get the job anyway. Especially if the candidate is otherwise ideal. – RedSonja Oct 25 '18 at 7:22
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    Even better to add a justification, e.g. "We have had problems in the past due to company secrets being disclosed via employee blogs. We would like to confirm with you that you wouldn't be writing a professional blog while you are working with us. Is that acceptable to you?". This would help to reduce the apparent WTF-ness of the disqualifier. – Joe Stevens Oct 25 '18 at 9:53
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    @JoeStevens If there is a justification. OP hasn't mentioned it. – DJClayworth Oct 25 '18 at 12:41
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    @DJClayworth Just to mention it, OP wrote in some comment that the disqualifying answer to the question about blogging is "NO". But +1 indeed. – Neinstein Oct 25 '18 at 16:48
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    Yeah, RedSonja is right: upvoting this is not sufficient, this answer deserves active praise. It neatly solves the problem that the questioner asked. But, it goes above and beyond because it also offers a partial solution to the inanity of the request, as bemoaned by all other commentators around: it relieves the trap of getting rejected for a "why would that matter?!" attitude. It also allows for radical transparency around a sensitive topic without directly embarrassing the employer, so it properly negotiates all of the involved relationships. Well done. – CR Drost Oct 25 '18 at 16:49
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In my opinion it is not unprofessional, but incredibly discourteous.

Most candidates will have booked out their time for the interview. Being told halfway through that I had just excluded myself would sting, and I would absolutely feed this back to the recruitment agency (if used), or blog about it.

I would complete the interview and rate the candidates anyway, then present them as comparisons to your boss. You might find that all of those who answer "correctly" are not suitable due to other reasons.

Of the developers I know, almost all have some kind of side project as a creative outlet. I think this exclusion is coming from a place devoid of reason.

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    If you blogged about it then you wouldn't have been disqualified... :) – Dryden Long Oct 24 '18 at 17:07
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    You seem to have missed the point. It is a waste of your time and the interviewee's time to continue after he "fails" a sine qua non question. The real failure is in not listing those requirements before asking him in for an interview. – Carl Witthoft Oct 24 '18 at 17:14
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    OP has clarified that their company is excluding applicants who don't have a side project or blog. (Which is still a bad idea, mind.) – Geoffrey Brent Oct 26 '18 at 1:23
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    Sometimes I feel that I'm the only developer who doesn't maintain a side project. I work hard during the day and the last thing I want to do after work is stare at the screen for another few hours, context switching into a different programming project. It's time for drinking and cooking and listening to music! And I have felt disadvantaged in selection processes as a result because everybody loves a hobbyist with a ginormous github profile. Meh. – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 26 '18 at 10:12
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    @Lightness Races in Orbit : breakthroughs in problem solving and creative thinking come when we are doing zone-out tasks like cooking, washing, walking or after 'sleeping on it' because it gives our conscious brain a break and our unconcious can mull it over without pressure. Programming 20 hours every day is not conducive to that! Also, I spend so much of my own time on work projects that I would feel guilty (and insane) if I spent time programming anything else! (Apart from little flights of fancy like learning how to make a chrome theme, or scripts/macros for my fav tools) – Esco Oct 29 '18 at 1:20
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The honest thing would be to say the truth: "Sorry, but my boss insists that we don't hire anyone who is doing any programming outside of his job." That explains to them why they were not hired. And it gives them a chance to realise that this was a close escape, and tell you their opinion of your boss.

Telling them "you didn't make the cut" is absolutely dishonest and quite pathetic actually. There is no indication that they are not good enough for the job. They just don't match this idee fixe of your boss.

@GalacticCowboy I find it hard to decide what's worse: Someone who disqualifies you for having some side project, or someone who disqualifies you for having none. To me, both would disqualify that boss.

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    Even the excel macros on the spreadsheet I use to manage my portfolio :-) – Neuromancer Oct 24 '18 at 21:26
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    As noted elsewhere, OP clarified that the boss views a "No" answer to the open-source/blogging question as disqualifying. – GalacticCowboy Oct 25 '18 at 16:55
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    @GalacticCowboy It's interesting to me how many people were assuming the opposite. – Michael J. Oct 25 '18 at 17:54
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I'm not sure of any advice you can give your boss, apart from "Learn how to interview someone, you ignoramus" (hint: it's career-limiting to do that...). Judging an otherwise excellent candidate on the basis of one question is perfectly idiotic.

An approach I would suggest is to not tell the candidate anything during the interview - this is not your decision to make. Instead, if the candidate is excellent, make it your job to sell them to your boss. As there are three of you in the interview process, any one person should not have a veto over a good candidate. A two-thirds majority should be sufficient to get the person through to the next round.

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    Key word is should. I don't know this guy's boss but it sounds like this might be a "my way or the highway" type situation where it doesn't matter what the other interviewers think. If this boss says the candidate doesn't move forward then the candidate doesn't move forward. – Lee Abraham Oct 24 '18 at 15:58
  • Judging an otherwise excellent candidate on the basis of one question is perfectly idiotic. Not necessarily, but those questions could be asked in advance with the candidate given a chance to explain sub-best answers. Examples: "Are you able to legally work in this country?" "This position requires a security clearance. Do you think you would be able to pass the relevant background check?" – WBT Oct 30 '18 at 0:16
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Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

No, it's not at all unprofessional.

If you get an answer to a question that completely disqualifies a candidate, then it only makes sense to stop the interview there, tell the candidate that they are not a good fit for the position, thank them for their time, and dismiss them.

For example, if you require a 40 hours per week full-timer, and the candidate indicates that they could only work 4 days/24 hours, then it wouldn't make any sense to continue with the rest of the interview.

I've done this several times myself - both as a hiring manager and as a candidate. If something comes up during the interview which clearly indicates that the candidate (or me) is not a fit for the position, I end the interview there.

This should happen very rarely, assuming the publicly-posted job descriptions are detailed enough that candidates can determine if they fit or not. And a quick phone screen is usually an efficient way to avoid any obvious situations of bad fit.

(From what you have written, I'd have serious doubts about the basis upon which your manager chooses go/no-go questions. But that's a different question than what you are actually asking here.)

  • I wouldn't stop it right there. In the interests of social etiquette I would at least carry on a little bit, but I would be wrapping up the interview, perhaps ask a few more token questions then bring it to a close making like it was already at that point of the interview. A bright candidate will see through this and get the message, but it's a basic social grace (at least in my part of the world) not to be explicit about it. And yes I do realise it's effectively a waste of time and that in itself would be seen as more rude in other parts of the world. Point is: depends where you are. – Lightness Races with Monica Oct 26 '18 at 10:14
  • It is unprofessional. It demonstrates that your screening process is not rigorous: you couldn't even bother to formulate "deal-breaker" questions. Now you – AbuNassar Oct 31 '18 at 15:12
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"I have to assume I cannot change his mind on being flexible with this process."

Assuming gets a lot of people in trouble. And it can cause innocent applicants to be disqualified. Everyone can compromise. You won't know until you ask.

If your boss is not seeing how this is wasting applicants time- and your time- then it could be because you are not giving him any feedback. Do you understand the exact reasons against the blogging or programming outside of work? Ask your boss to explain his/her reasoning precisely if he/she hasn't yet. You may find you are disqualifying applicants needlessly.

Even if a disqualifying criteria was discovered during an interview- I would extend professional courtesy by informing the applicant of the disqualifying condition and giving them a chance to comply with company rules. This prevents wasting time both ways. Perhaps a follow up question:

"Ok, I want you to understand we do not allow XYZ activity. And I don't want to waste your time if you find this too much to ask- so let me ask: Are you willing to stop this activity immediately to be further considered in our interview process?"

  1. This makes them aware of the ultimatum. If they agree, they chose to stop doing the activity and you retain an applicant that agrees to follow your rules.

  2. If they disagree, it is a reciprocal disqualification. They were on notice and chose not to comply anyway.

  3. there are some legitimate reasons for programming "outside work" and I think you realize this. If the website or blog is due to programming-related activity then I think you should disregard the rules concerning disqualification and clarify the nature of the after-work activity.

  4. In this day, you would be hard-pressed to find a college applicant NOT participating in blogs or social media, or programming outside of work or school, or not having a Twitter/Facebook/Pictogram account. Lets be real here- how many people do you expect not to disqualify? These things are considered normal in today's society and they are not illegal...

  5. What if they work at McDonald's and program outside of work? Would you disqualify them?

"Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?"

Not if done appropriately as I've outlined above. Without specific changes however, I would find the actual process inappropriate.

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    Are we sure that the "wrong" answer to the "programming outside of work" question isn't "no"? Maybe the boss is only looking for enthusiasts. – tbrookside Oct 24 '18 at 17:27
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    @tbrookside I think we agree on principle. Are you asking me or OP this question? I think an employer can't control what an applicant does prior to coming in for the interview- but it is during the interview that expectations are drawn out and the applicant- once they know the rules- has the chance to comply with the employers expectations. To disqualify due to an applicant's prior history (I have a blog, or I programmed outside of work in the past), I find unreasonable. – Zorkolot Oct 24 '18 at 18:07
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    I thought your points #3, #4 and #5 assumed that the boss was attempting to exclude applicants who blogged or who programmed outside of work. I merely thought it was also possible - and from the perspective of the employer, more rational - that the boss was seeking to exclude applicants who did not blog or program outside of work. – tbrookside Oct 24 '18 at 18:09
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    @tbrookside I think it's actually more common than OP realizes. People who go the extra mile often program outside of work. They are trying to become better programmers. Often employers encourage this so I don't understand his boss' logic either. It would be different if it were in terms of employment, for example- I can't work for money outside my current programming job. But if I program for fun, on my own website- that is programming "outside the job". My employer makes the distinction that 1 is acceptable 1 is not. Does OP make this distinction during the interview? I bet not. – Zorkolot Oct 24 '18 at 18:14
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    @Zorkolot: Why aren't you allowed to take on additional paid programming projects on the side? – Sean Oct 24 '18 at 21:08
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My question is; Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

Assuming you can communicate it politely (i.e. you aren't just shouting Get Out! or something) then there's nothing wrong with it in my view - why waste any more of their time or yours when it's not going anywhere?

sneaking away during a long lunch break

I've done this a time or two myself.. and I'd much rather know if it was "over" half way through - that way I might actually have chance to have a lunch break!

Does anybody really like interviewing that much that they'd rather be spending an extra 30 mins or whatever interviewing for a job that they already aren't getting? I can't think of a single scenario where I'd rather be doing that instead of something more productive or interesting.

  • "Does anybody really like interviewing that much that they'd rather be spending an extra 30 mins or whatever interviewing for a job that they already aren't getting?" Probably something to be said about interview practice, no? It's not a complete waste of time. – Wowfunhappy Oct 25 '18 at 20:08
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Edit: I assumed the boss wanted people without side projects and blogs, that isn't the case. The msft manager I spoke with directly (off the record) pretty much said that they were looking for the type of ppl who had side projects. Just FYI to other comments indicating it is absurd. Also he had a wife and 1+ children, not sure how he does it all honestly :-)

Adding these questions to a phone screen would be good.

Regardless of how well they impress us in other aspects, if they give a single answer the manager won't like, we aren't allowed to proceed them to the next stage.

I know you are constrained... but can you be creative?

Microsoft and Google both encourage side projects. Given that information, maybe some candidates think it is a positive to have a side project and/or a blog.
Maybe they only do it because they think it makes them look good.

If a candidate says they have one, you can ask about it. Then you can mention that people here are discouraged from having them and ask if that would be a problem.
If they say yes, interview over - no hurt feelings, no wasted time.

If they'd shut it down, you can tell the manager, "S/he has a blog/project, but said that they would be willing to stop if that sort of thing is frowned on here."

The idea being to not exclude someone that likely wouldn't work on it after you hired them anyway.

  • I think this is a good suggestion (also I cannot imagine to want to work with such a boss and would rather change my Organisation than ask such questions) – eckes Oct 27 '18 at 22:17
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Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

No, it would not be unprofessional to tell them politely. Although, I would just cut the interview short in professional way and not inform them there and then.

That way you do not waste any more of the candidate's time than is necessary and you could send them a message the next day informing them they didn't make cut (Although, when an interview is cut short, they would probably have guessed this).

  • Probably is an understatment. Though it is a waste of time being invited to an interview and then have the interview cut short "misteriously", I agree with other answers the best approach seems to ask the questions beforehand. – Rui F Ribeiro Oct 25 '18 at 17:50
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There have been a few interviews which I have abruptly cut short; in all of these, I have informed the interviewee of the reason, immediately.

For example: someone interviewed who was nice and had good skills - just not the correct ones for my company. One of our sister companies (we're a global with quite a few different nationals with completely separate legal status, separate HR etc., under a common umbrella) would be a perfect fit though, so I broke the 4th wall, told him exactly that, and sent him on his merry way.

Another case would be if there is some objective reason why it's just not gonna work out. Someone was a good match, but lived so far away that it was just not feasible, even with remote working. Yes, I could have taken him further, but I know for sure that after a few months it would start to be a problem (this is just an example, there were specific reasons for that, this is not about teleworking in general). In such a case, I might stop the interview and tell him just that.

In this case, you are a Senior employee in an outward facing role. You have the right to use your own mind to do useful decisions. After what you describe, you find those questions silly, but are strictly confined in your position. So absolutely, yes, ask those questions, and act accordingly. But do not tell the other guy (like I did in my examples). You know that it would shine a bad light on your company, even though its just your boss who's a bad apple.

Just go on. Document your interview as usual, point out all the good stuff (and other bad stuff except those questions), and document the "wrong" answers. Done. If you get enough staff, then so be it; if it turns out that after months of interviews nobody gets taken on, you might tactfully ask whether it would be permissible to relax on some of these criteria.

But optimally, if there is some person (HR, assistant, ...) who is calling the interviewees first (to set a date for the actual interview), then have them clear those "must have" questions during the initial call and forget about it. Be sure to instruct them to note which answers were answered wrongly (not just "failed") so you can, if no further applicants are coming through to you, maybe take up the fight with your boss later.

5

I think this question doesn't have a good answer because something has gone wrong at a previous step. The situation which you describe should be avoided. If there are certain responses that disqualify a candidate from consideration, have a short phone interview first, or send them an online questionnaire. This would save everyone's time.

Most job application include a few yes/no questions such as "have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?" before the first interview. Perhaps you could include such critical questions in the same way.

1

There are actually some other aspects to this that haven't been touched on by the other answers.

First, legal. There are a LOT of laws regarding what questions you are allowed to ask, and what details you are allowed to base your decision on. So many, that it's really hard to know what they all are. I don't know what is on the rest of the list, but it's entirely possible that one of the questions covers one of these protected topics, and telling the candidate it's a dealbreaker may well give them grounds to sue your company. This is one of the reasons companies don't generally tell failed candidates where they went wrong, to protect themselves legally, so if they are accused of discrimination on X they can say they decided based on Y.

The other reason to continue the interview, is for the sake of experience. If gives the candidate valuable practice interviewing, and also helps you build an idea of what the market is like, so if a candidate comes in significantly different from the others you can recognize it. Which you wouldn't be able to do if you sent the others home early. They've made the effort to travel in to your office to be interviewed, dismissing them halfway through is disrespectful to them - after they made the effort to travel in to see you, the least you can do is get through the whole interview.

Finally, there may be a third part involved. How did you find the candidate? Did they come to you through a recruiter? If so, then it is generally considered professional to relay the results of the interview through the recruiter, rather than directly to the candidate. Companies normally give any feedback they may have to the recruiter, and they may well see it as unprofessional for you to tell the candidate they have been rejected before telling the agent.

1

Those questions seem to be very specific to your particular company. What would be the consequences of a candidate knowing that writing a blog was what got them struck out? The best you could hope for is that they will lie on a next interview if they get mistaken into thinking this requirement is common. On the other hand, your company can suffer, because word would get out and it will be a dent on your image and a warning to future interviewees to lie.

Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

Yes.

It's already unprofessional to disqualify a candidate for such petty reasons. What you can do now is damage control. Leaking important info is the opposite of that. I understand that you feel sorry for wasting their time, but they knew how long the interview will be, and they've planned accordingly. This time is already lost. Cutting it down hardly benefits them at all.

It benefits mostly you, as you can skip an exercise in futility that the rest of the interview becomes.

It's OK to have feelings, but to act upon them is unprofessional.

We have to just continue the interview as normal and inform them later that we have decided not to continue with their application.

That's the professional thing to do. You can think of it as an agreement to deliver 1 (one) interview. Respect that agreement. The interview works both ways, the candidate also learns things about the company. Let them learn.

1

I've been passed over for a job once because I answered "no" to the question "are you married with children". When I asked why they said "we only hire candidates from a stable family situation". While a bad question and reasoning, at least they were honest.

Continuing the interview while you know the candidate has already failed wastes everyone's time, not just theirs but yours as well. Which means it costs your company money as you could be doing constructive work that brings income.

That said, the questions you mention sound a bit weird as deal breakers. I can kinda understand why you don't want someone who's planning on taking a long vacation within the next few months, especially if you're hiring now because you're facing a requirement for that extra capacity within the next few months (and if you're not, why hire now?). But turning someone down either because he does side projects as a hobby or because he doesn't is not a good way to select candidates. And opinions about who'd be the better candidate based solely on that difference vary wildly between people of course.

As already hinted elsewhere, be careful as some questions that go into the private sphere may actually be illegal or unethical to ask and lead to problems for you and/or the company.

So yes, I'd cut the interview short, explain why, NOT tell I'm opposed to that decision but do tell that you have to reject the candidate based on company policy due to the answers provided so far.

  • In the US, that is an illegal interview question. – Willie Wheeler Oct 26 '18 at 3:05
  • @WillieWheeler: Not necessarily - AFAIK marital status discrimination is not covered by Federal laws, and not all states have laws about it, so it depends. Plus, if you were asked this in a one-on-one interview, how would you prove it if push came to shove? – sleske Oct 26 '18 at 7:46
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    @WillieWheeler plus, this wasn't in the US. – jwenting Oct 27 '18 at 3:06
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Would it be unprofessional to inform a candidate during the interview that we won't be able to give them further consideration?

Yes.

Remember, an interview is not just the 30 or 60 minutes you're sitting in front of the candidate and have an interview. The candidate will remember what happened during the interview, and you cannot assume (s)he'll be quiet about this. (S)he will share their experience with their network, on Facebook, on glassdoor, etc. You don't want the rejected candidate be so negative that it causes other people, who may be a good fit, to not even bother applying. Always try to get the candidate to leave the interview with a good feeling -- even if you already know (s)he is not going to make it. That's your professional duty towards the company you work for.

  • It ought to be possible to both leave the candidate with a good impression (which is indeed important), and also avoid wasting their time and yours going through the motions when you know they won't be hired. – BittermanAndy Oct 30 '18 at 7:53
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As a rule, you should not tell them at all, but the process should be staged so that nobody's time is wasted.

I don't want other candidates knowing disqualification criteria. This is commercial in confidence and may not even be known to my people. Correspondence will not be entered into. It should of course be lawful.

If it is something that can be mentioned it should have been published in the selection criteria. If there was a mistake in the criteria this should be announced as early as possible. eg. A "National" is not the same as a "Citizen".

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I would suggest devising a small online questionnaire of a few innocuous questions, and fit those questions around the essential ones.

Send the questionnaire before booking the interview.

As a matter of fact, I had a couple of interviews in the past, that were cut short strangely, for similar reasons, and while I got the hint, I would prefer they had been direct and honest with me.

It can get slightly uncomfortable when knowing you have been snubbed off, both of the parties still pretending it did not happen, and continuing through the motions.

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I think while a lot of these answers appeal to the emotional aspect of job hunting - an experience of frustration most of us experienced in wondering why we didn't make the cut. It be great if we all knew why we didn't make the cut or why we were rejected. However, from a professional aspect of it, I think it's best to leave HR or your boss with informing the candidate that he/she didn't make the cut.

If you inform the interviewee that his answer disqualifies him, you might have a handful of dealing with pleas and them trying to get a "insider" trust on how he should proceed. I just wouldn't do it. And with you feeling "bad" about it might make you incline to help them somehow sympathizing with their problem. That could get you into a heap of trouble and not only that you might help hire a really bad coworker and you'd have to deal with that for a long time.