When hiring employees, negligent hiring practices can doom the process. Learn from your colleagues’ successes – and avoid their pitfalls.

Smart interview questions, well-written job descriptions, and sharp interviewing result in hiring employees that work out well, AND make you look good in the process.

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Are any of you like I used to be? Always available to listen, motivate, brainstorm and basically provide your friends, family and colleagues with whatever they needed to play an outstanding game while you watched from the sidelines? After years of watching everyone take my advice, execute the perfect play and score, I was left with two distinct thoughts. One, it stinks being on the bench, and two, if they can do it, so can I. And so can you!

The interview remains a hiring manager’s most effective tool for evaluating job candidates. Unfortunately, managers too often rely on a list of standard interview questions for which most applicants have canned responses. Here are five common questions to avoid, as well as suggestions for more productive queries that will help you make the correct hiring choice:

Question:  “In our company, employees never receive raises. We only get quarterly bonuses for meeting specific goals. Although the CEO says "we couldn't do it without you," he makes no effort to improve our salaries. This job provides valuable experience in a profession that I love, so I hate to think about leaving. I really enjoy my work, my co-workers and the relaxed environment. On the other hand, my pay is still very low after two years. Any advice?” — Worth More

HR Law 101: Don’t overlook state laws, which may provide more protection for independent contractors. While the IRS is largely concerned with the issue of who collects and who pays taxes on earnings, states have different interests to protect. Thus, some states may prefer for some contractors to be considered employees under the IRS rule.

More than 400,000 U.S. citizens retire or separate from the military every year—and most of them look for jobs when they do. Companies such as Union Pacific Railroad, GE and Home Depot actively recruit veterans. Your organization could probably benefit from hiring military veterans. To attract them, align your recruiting and employee benefits with their needs.

If your employees travel on company business, use company cars or rent cars for business, make sure you have an auto-use policy that makes it clear that zany antics, such as one employee's 600-mile detour to Dixie, fall outside the scope of employment ...

As part of HR Professionals Week, our sister newsletter, The HR Specialist, is collecting tales of what can go wrong when candidates sit down opposite an HR professional or hiring manager. So far, we've heard stories about kittens, nail polish and the police. Share your story — from either side of the interview desk — at the HR Specialist Forum this week.

Join The HR Specialist in celebrating the first-ever “HR Professionals Week,” a five-day tribute to all that human resources pros do to make American workplaces more effective and American businesses more successful. From Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 5, we're offering a full week’s worth of free resources and activities available to all, including open-access podcasts and white papers on the critical issues shaping the HR profession.

Since 2007, the EEOC has been engaged in a major push to stamp out race-based discrimination in hiring. Known as E-RACE, the initiative’s goal is to “eliminate recruiting and hiring practices that lead to discrimination by limiting an employer’s applicant pool.” When targeting employers for enforcement action, the EEOC often zeroes in on four recruitment and screening practices:

HR professionals must make sure that supervisors hear this message loud and clear: Don’t make any assumptions about what a pregnant woman can or cannot do. Voicing such presumptions and taking action based on them virtually guarantees a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit.