Attorney at Law

Do's and Don'ts of the Interview Process

James Parker
July 3, 2022
Last reviewed by
Boruch Burnham, Esq.
March 14, 2023

The interview process is stressful for many applicants. There is only one chance to make a good first impression, get a sense of the culture of the workplace, impress the interviewer with a strong resume and great references, and find out important information about the job being offered.

Some applicants naturally excel at making a good impression but fail to gain all the information they could have. Others struggle with conveying their qualifications in a way that demonstrates their true ability. In this guide, AAL will share helpful suggestions for maintaining professionalism while protecting your rights.

DO: Dress appropriately for the interview

While it is important to try and feel as comfortable as possible when going in for an interview, it is more important to dress as professionally and appropriately as possible. While companies are not allowed to control everything an employee wears, they are generally allowed to enforce a reasonable dress code.

While business dress codes can vary widely, at a minimum, applicants should show up in closed-toed, nonathletic shoes; pants or a mid-length skirt; a belt; and a polo shirt or long-sleeved button-down shirt. These articles should be clean and in good condition to make the best possible first impression. While it may be uncomfortable to wear, showing up to an interview in professional attire demonstrates that the applicant is willing to put forth the necessary effort to appear professional.

DON’T: Try to hide any disabilities or medical needs

It can be uncomfortable for an applicant to have to explain to their potential employer that they have a disability or chronic medical condition that may impact their ability to work. However, there are a variety of state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), under which employers are not allowed to refuse to hire someone due to a disability. Furthermore, there are laws requiring that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include: 

  • Modified work schedules or hours to accommodate medical appointments or treatments
  • Making physical changes to the workplace to accommodate a disability, such as installing wheelchair ramps
  • Providing assistive technology or equipment, such as text to speech software for the visually impaired

By being direct about the nature of their situation, applicants can work with their employer to decide what reasonable accommodations could be made in order to allow the applicant to work at their fullest capacity. Similarly, while an employer generally may not require that applicants disclose their medical records, being upfront about medical conditions that may interfere with certain tasks can allow the interviewer to find a compromise that works for both parties.

If a job applicant with a disability or a long-term medical condition doesn't disclose it to the employer before they are hired, it could cause problems for both parties down the line.

DO: Answer questions courteously and honestly

Most people think of an interview as a series of questions to find out if a candidate has the skills and qualifications to do well in the job they are applying for. During this time, it may feel beneficial to stretch the truth a bit in order to stand out among other applicants.

There is a difference between an applicant who presents themselves in the best possible light and one who lies. An applicant who emphasizes their contributions to a project is simply presenting their achievements in the best possible light. An applicant who claims that they single-handedly performed an entire team’s work or says they have certifications or training that they don’t have is lying.

Exaggerating about one’s qualifications may seem like a good idea initially, but when push comes to shove and the employer expects the applicant to complete a task they have no knowledge of, then things will fall apart in the worst way.

DON’T: Refuse routine procedures

Sometimes, as part of the interview process, employers will ask for permission to access information or request that the applicant complete certain tasks. Most commonly, these tasks could include submitting to a physical evaluation or drug test, while the information requested could range from contacting references to performing background checks.

Even though the applicant is not legally required to take these tests or give the employer the information they want, most people think it is a very bad idea to say no to these normal screening procedures. In some jobs, such as those that involve working children, a background check may be required in order to proceed.

By complying with these routine procedures, an applicant gives themselves the best possible chance of getting the job that they want.

DO: Politely redirect unlawful questions

Interviewers may ask a variety of questions in order to determine whether an applicant is well suited for the job they are applying for. However, questions that could be considered discriminatory or prejudicial to certain protected classes are not allowed. For example, a question about where an applicant is “really” from could be considered to be predicated on national origin discrimination.

If you are asked questions pertaining to your age, race, sex, disability status, religion, nationality, or any other category protected by the ADA or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you may politely indicate that they do not have a lawful purpose and decline to respond.

DON’T: Assume that unwritten promises are guaranteed by the interviewer

Sometimes an employer may say things during the interview in order to incentivize applicants to take the job should it be offered. Promises of overtime compensationstock options, or telecommuting are just some examples of ways that an interviewer may want to sweeten the prospect of employment with the company.

In some situations, verbal promises may give rise to an implied contract if the employee reasonably relied on those promises in deciding to accept the position. If the employer does not make good on those promises, they may be deemed to have breached the implied contract, even though those conditions were not included in a written agreement between the parties. However, implied contract claims can be very difficult to prove and costly to pursue in court, so it is advisable that you have a comprehensive contract in hand that sets forth in detail the salary, benefits, and other terms before you accept a position.

DO: Consider hiring a skilled attorney with ample employment law experience if you suspect you have been unfairly discriminated against during the interview process

Suppose you suffered illegal discrimination during the hiring process or were promised benefits and pay that ended up not materializing. In that case, you may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. One of the best ways to accomplish that goal is with an attorney experienced in employment law who can zealously advocate on your behalf in order to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Using their legal expertise, trial tactics, and expert witnesses, your attorney will be able to gather evidence of your mistreatment, whether it’s unfair interview questions, an unfulfilled implied contract, or other proof of impropriety, and present that information in the most compelling way for your case.

Through AAL, you can find experienced and dedicated attorneys with years of employment law experience who can help you seek the justice that you deserve.



*Disclaimer: Attorney At Law does not represent all lawyers in all states. There may be differences of opinion. It’s always advisable to consult with an attorney when in a legal situation.

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