Do's and Don'ts of the Interview Process

By James Parker
July 3, 2022

The interview process is a stressful time for many applicants. There is one chance to simultaneously make a positive first impression, feel out the workplace culture, impress the interviewer with a high-powered resume and stellar references, and learn vital information about the position 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, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer is not allowed to refuse to hire an employee because they are disabled. 

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

If an applicant with a disability or chronic medical condition does not disclose that information before they are hired, it could cause problems for both the employee and the employer down the road.

DO: Answer questions courteously and honestly

The interview process is primarily thought of as a series of questions measuring the ability of an applicant. 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 completes some task. 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.

While the applicant is not under any legal obligation to undergo these tests or allow the employer access to the information they are seeking, it is generally considered a very bad move to refuse these routine screening procedures. In some jobs, such as those that involve 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 illegal 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, there are some questions that interviewers may not ask. Questions that could be considered discriminatory or prejudicial under 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 that question is asked of the applicant, they may politely state that the question is not one that they legally have to answer and politely decline to respond further. 

Questions pertaining to the age, race, sex, disability status, religion, or any other category protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be politely but firmly declined.

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 to them. Promises of overtime compensation, stock options, or telecommuting are just some examples of ways that an interviewer may want to sweeten the prospect of employment with the company.

This verbal promise may give rise to an implied contract, which may obligate the interviewer to make good on their promises should the job be accepted. However, implied contracts are highly contentious and may require legal action to settle definitively. In order to protect themselves, applicants should walk out of the interview with written confirmation of the promises made should they accept the job.  

DO: Hire an Employment Law attorney if you have been unfairly discriminated against during the interview process

Suppose you have 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 file a lawsuit in order to seek justice for the time and energy wasted. The best way to accomplish that goal is with an Employment Law attorney. 

An experienced Employment Law attorney 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 Employment Law 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.

AAL has a number of experienced and dedicated Employment Law attorneys 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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