Interviewing? Avoid Asking These Inappropriate Questions

Interviewing a candidate for an open position can be a delicate business. Not only do you need to ask smart questions to determine whether or not the candidate will be a good fit at your company, but you need to do that without breaking any laws. There are a number of questions that could make your company vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits, so make sure you steer clear of these issues:

Information on someone’s driver’s license.
You may not ask what date someone was born, you may not ask their race, and you may not ask about any physical characteristics such as sex, height, or weight. (There are some exceptions for height or weight, such as in the case of a flight attendant who must be tall enough to reach overhead compartments and slim enough to walk through narrow aisles comfortably.) There are many laws in place to prevent discrimination based on age, race, sex, and physical or mental disabilities.

Information about someone’s personal life.
You may not ask if someone is married, or if they have (or are planning to have) children. If you’re trying to get a sense of their availability for work outside of normal office hours, it’s safest to ask directly. You may not ask if they attend church, and you may not ask if they’re a member or any political or social organizations. Exceptions are professional organizations. For example, if you’re trying to hire a lawyer, you may ask whether they’re a member of the American Bar Association.

Certain information about someone’s past.
You may not ask if someone has been arrested, as an arrest is not the same thing as a conviction. If a candidate was in the military, you may not ask whether their discharge was honorable or dishonorable. You may not ask whether a candidate has ever filed for bankruptcy, although if creditworthiness is a job requirement, you are within your rights to run a credit check.

What are you safe to ask? Anything directly related to the job requirements. For example, you can ask whether someone has authorization to work in the United States. You can ask if someone is old enough to meet a minimum age requirement so your company can comply with labor laws. You can ask if someone can perform the physical requirements necessary to complete their job duties. Stick to what needs to be done to do the job and you should be safe. For more tips on how to interview candidates well, or for more information about our recruiting solutions, get in touch with one of our hiring specialists at Contemporary Staffing.