When a position opens at your company, you will likely receive a ton of resumes from qualified applicants. Once you have narrowed down the field, you are ready to start scheduling interviews. Any good employer should plan out some key questions to ask before the interview begins. However, when you are figuring out what questions to ask, you should be careful you do not accidentally ask something that is illegal. Numerous federal and state laws are in place that protect employees from being discriminated against on the basis of religion, sex, race, national origin, disabilities and a variety of other factors. You are not allowed to ask questions related to those areas, so be sure to learn what common questions are illegal for you to inquire about.
Most Common Questions
Many employers are unaware that certain questions are off-limits. Some hiring managers think something should be asked because it will reveal something about the person’s work capabilities, but in actuality, it is illegal. Here are common questions you need to avoid the next time you have an interviewing process to engage in.
•How Is Your Health? You are not allowed to directly ask about someone’s health, whether he or she has had health conditions in the past or if the individual has any current disabilities. This is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, you could ask more specific questions related to specific tasks of the job. For example, you could ask if the person is capable of carrying 50 pounds.
•Are You Married? This question poses a variety of problems. First, it could fall under pregnancy protections. For example, if you are interviewing a married woman, then there could be an implication that she will get pregnant while working for you and you will need to provide her with time off. Additionally, asking if someone is married could reveal information about sexual orientation that would be illegal.
•What Is Your Age? You might be able to guess a person’s age based on his or her resume, especially if that person has a college graduation date. However, if you cannot guess based on resume, then you are not allowed to ask during the interview. Job candidates are protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
•What Religion Do You Practice? This question is a big no-no. It is none of your business what religion your employees practice, but many hiring managers ask because they want to know if the person would be missing for certain religious holidays. If you are interested in determining a person’s schedule, then you should ask something more along the lines of: “Are you available to work nights and weekends?”
•Do You Drink Socially Often? This question may seem innocent enough. Perhaps some of the people in your office like to go to a nearby happy hour after getting off work and you want to see how someone would fit into your company culture. However, you cannot ask this question due to the Americans with Disabilities Act because the interviewee may be a recovering alcoholic. Employers also cannot ask questions about whether the applicant smokes cigarettes.
There are plenty of other questions you should avoid asking. For the most part, you should stick to questions directly related to a candidate’s ability to do the job, and inquiring about a person’s race, age, sex and anything else along those lines is not necessary. An interviewee may refuse to answer the question and file a complaint against your company if you do ask. It is best to avoid these types of questions altogether for everyone’s benefit.
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