When interviewing someone for a job opening, you want to know everything possible. After all, people are curious by nature. However, there are laws in place that prevent you from asking specific interview questions. These laws allow you to gather enough information to make a well-informed decision without delving into the job candidate’s personal life.
It is essential that you understand what interview questions to avoid. Asking the wrong questions would put your company at risk for either a formal complaint or an actual lawsuit. The good news is that you can find excellent talent by asking legal questions, yet protect the business by knowing the questions to avoid during the interview process.
If you ask a candidate an interview question on any of the following topics, that person could consider it discriminatory.
Topics to Avoid:
- Race, Color, or Ethnicity
- Gender or Sex
- Birthplace or Country of National Origin
- Family, Marital, or Pregnancy Status
As the person who conducts job interviews, you always need to remain somewhat guarded. Thsi is especially true when meeting with a candidate who feels relaxed and talkative. As you begin the interview, remind yourself that this is a professional process. You need to stay on topic. The problem is that some people could take innocent questions the wrong way.
Risky Interview Questions
- How many kids do you have?
- Will you have a problem with childcare during business hours?
- Did you graduate from high school?
- Do you feel more comfortable working for a male or female boss?
- What type of job does your spouse/partner do?
- Where did you grow up?
- Have you suffered any serious illnesses or injuries within the past 12 months?
Consider the interview question, “How many kids do you have?” While conversing during an interview, a job candidate may notice a photo of your family sitting on the desk, which leads to an open dialog about children. Without giving it a second thought, you could find yourself sharing information and asking questions about the candidate’s kids. While this question seems innocent, it is illegal.
Keep in mind there is no problem if the job candidate offers information. Using the same scenario of seeing a photo of your kids, that person might tell you about his or her children, saying something like “Oh, I see you have kids. I do, too, a boy (6) and a girl (4).” If that happens, remain professional but avoid drawing out more information.
What Can You Do?
When it comes to interview questions you can and cannot ask, there are some gray areas. For that reason, it is in your best interest to learn both legal and illegal questions and then develop an easy-to-follow strategy that keeps you on course. If you need help with this, contact a reputable attorney who specializes in corporate law. If you inadvertently pose a question that causes a potential problem for your company, an attorney can help with that, as well.
You want job interviews to go smoothly, helping the candidate to relax. That way, you can get a better sense of who the individual is and how he or she would fit in with your organization. At the same time, you need structure, so that you never ask illegal questions.