The importance of conducting an interview is to determine if a candidate is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, while also understanding and avoiding a protected set of topics that you cannot make hiring decisions from. Interviewers are not allowed to ask questions about race, color, gender, religion, health and physical ability, country of origin, sexual preference, age, and marital/family status because they can be viewed as discriminatory. It is easy to make a mistake by asking relevant work related questions the wrong way. Below are some examples of illegal questions and how you can phrase them legally to get the information that you need.
- Illegal: Are you a US Citizen?
- Legal: Are you authorized to work in the US?
- Illegal: What is your native language?
- Legal: What languages do you read, speak or write fluently?
Attendance / Reliability
- Illegal: Do you own a car?
- Legal: Do you have a reliable method of getting to work?
- Illegal: Are you married? Do you have children?
- Legal: Would you be willing to travel if necessary? Would you be willing to relocate if needed?
- Illegal: What religion do you practice?
- Legal: Are you able to work the required schedule?
- Illegal: What social organizations do you belong to?
- Legal: Do you belong to any professional organizations relevant to this position?
- Illegal: How do you feel about supervising men/women?
- Legal: Tell me about your management experience?
Health and Physical Abilities
- Illegal: Do you have any disabilities?
- Legal: Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?
- Illegal: Have you ever been arrested?
- Legal: Have you ever been convicted of ___________? (Must be related to job for which they are applying)
- Illegal: Were you honorably discharged?
- Legal: What type of education or training did you receive in the military?
Knowing the limits of what you can and cannot ask will not only help you make better hiring decisions, but can also help in avoiding a costly lawsuit.