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When three of us finished our individual interviews with a strong applicant, we took him to lunch. During the meal, one of my colleagues asked him many personal questions, especially about his family. The applicant answered them, but I think he was a little shocked. Afterwards, I told my colleague that these types of questions should not be asked, and he said that since this was an informal lunch and not a real interview, he could ask whatever he wants. Is that right?

Your associate somehow thinks that when he is in a venue that includes silverware and a menu, he can order whatever he wants and therefore ask whatever he wants. He is literally and figuratively out to lunch on this one.

All pre-employment questions should have continued to be job related. With this approach, an employer is able to remain within all pre-employment guidelines, while still learning a great deal about the suitability of an applicant for the company. A person's work history will give you great insight into his or her motivations, energy level, persistence, work style, and expertise. With the addition of some work sample questions, you can have a great discussion that sheds even more light on the applicant.

It is important to remember that applicants are interviewing employers during the pre-employment process. The fact that your applicant appeared to be "shocked" by the line of questions also means that it would not be shocking to find that he is now off the menu.

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