Common Interview Questions: What’s Legal to Ask
Many common interview questions are neither beneficial for finding the right hire for the job nor are they even legal to ask in an interview. While it can be tempting to want to understand whether an employee is going to be with your company for the long haul or to know more about their personal background, there are some questions that cross into illegal territory during an interview.
Understanding the legal requirements of interview questions, and knowing what you can and cannot ask while questioning an applicant, can help keep you on the right track as you search for the best people for your business.
Focus on Skills, Abilities, and Qualifications
When talking with a potential employee, the most common interview questions should focus on an applicant’s ability to perform the job properly. This means that questions that pertain to a potential employer’s education, experience, or training are all fair questions that can be asked. Here are a few examples of questions that are legal for an employer to ask of an applicant:
-What education do you have that is pertinent to this position
-What experience do you have that will help you in this position
-Do you have any special licenses or certification for this job
-Are you able to perform the necessary job requirements for this position safely
-Are you a U.S. Citizen or are you legally eligible to work in the country
Employers may also ask about any personal or professional skills that possible hires may have which could be an asset to the workplace.
Certain Personal Questions Are Acceptable
Personal questions can be a good way to get a feeling for an individual, but it can be hard to differentiate between personal questions that are allowed in an interview and personal questions that are not legal to ask. Common interview questions of a personal nature must be fairly broad with a focus on the requirements of the offered position. All of the following are good personal questions that are legal to ask an applicant in a job interview:
-Can you describe yourself for us
-What are your interests and hobbies
-What is your biggest strength
-What is your biggest weakness
-Why did you choose to apply for this position
-Do you like working with others or do you prefer to work alone and why
-What is something you are proud of
It is also a good idea for businesses to ask questions in order to get a feel for how much a potential employee has researched the company. Questions such as:
-What have you learned/researched about this company or corporation
-Why do you want to work in this establishment
-What makes working here more desirable than working in a similar position in a different office/setting
-What training or supervision do you think you would need to be successful in this position
These common interview questions can help give you a better understanding of the applicant as an individual and as a potential employee. Listening closely to the answers can help you to decide whether that person would be a good fit for your company’s attitude and culture.
Certain Personal Questions Are Prohibited
Personal questions that are not focused on the applicant’s ability to perform the offered job are prohibited, as many times the answers to these questions can lead to subconscious or open discrimination from potential employers.
For example, you may have heard that it is considered rude to ask a lady her age. In a job interview, it is actually illegal to ask anyone his or her age. You may ask if an applicant is over 18, if that is required by the job, but you may not ask their actual age or date of birth.
Another personal question that must be avoided is whether or not an applicant has children. While the topic of whether or not a potential employee has children may come up naturally in an interview as an applicant describes their home life or their interests outside of work, employers are prohibited from directly asking a potential employee questions such as:
-How many children do you have
-How old are your children
-Who will be watching your children while you are at work
-Do you plan on having any/more children in the future
Employers may ask about any children or the ages of an employee’s children after they have been hired for insurance purposes, but not beforehand.
By keeping these tips in mind, you will never have to worry about the legality of your interview questions. For more information about common interview questions and how to hire only the best and the brightest for your business, please browse the other available tools and articles here on Mighty Recruiter.