Keep the Interview Legal Checklist
As the employer, it is your responsibility to find the new person for a new opening at the company. The only thing that should matter in the job hiring process is whether a candidate has the skills necessary to perform all tasks. There are certain things you are not allowed to ask, and if you end up asking something illegal, you could face a lawsuit. Keep the interview legal and only ask questions that are relevant to the job at hand.
Preparing for the Interview
If you work in human resources, then you will be tasked of informing the hiring managers what practices are legal and which are not. This is particularly important if more than one individual in the company will be interviewing candidates, and you need to make sure everyone is on the same page. You can distribute materials for people to read over or schedule meetings where you inform everybody of what can and cannot be asked. Certain things like religion and sexual preference should really go without saying, but there are other items people may not be aware of that are illegal to ask.
Rule of Thumb: Only Ask Relevant Questions
At the end of the day, it does not matter in any way what a person’s ethnicity, religion or age is. The only thing that matters is whether he or she can do the job. Therefore, when you are preparing your questions for an interview, make sure they all pertain to the applicant’s experiences and skillset. This is the easiest way to keep the interview legal, and you will avoid any awkward situations or potential lawsuits.
There may be certain situations where an applicant’s life may impact the responsibilities of the position, and in these instances, you need to work your way around asking a potentially illegal question. For example, the job may require a fair amount of travel, and you may have concerns that a candidate will be able to do all the necessary travelling if he or she has children. You cannot directly ask if someone has children or has arrangements in place for someone to look after their children while they are away. However, you could inform the interviewee that this job requires travel and if he or she would be able to do it all. You can also mention if the job requires working nights or weekends occasionally and if that would be a problem for the applicant. Asking questions in a way that makes it pertinent to someone’s capabilities to carry out the position’s responsibilities allows you to keep the interview legal.
Illegal Topics to Bring Up
Ultimately, you should avoid bringing up anything that could be viewed as controversial during the interview. If something is relevant to the job, then make sure to ask it in a way that is legal. Here are the topics to avoid for job interviews:
-Age: Do not ask how old someone is. You may ask for identification if offered the job just to make sure the person is over the age of 18.
-Alcohol use: While a drug test might be mandatory before working, you must avoid asking about current or prior drug and alcohol use during the interview.
-Clubs and social organizations: You cannot ask about any unions or other affiliations the candidate belongs to.
-Crimes: You can ask if a candidate has any prior convictions, but you cannot ask about arrests.
-Disabilities: You cannot ask if someone has any physical or mental health conditions. Keep the interview legal and ask questions that pertain to whether someone would be able to perform the necessary responsibilities of the job.
-Ethnicity: You cannot ask where a person was born or what race they are.
-Family: Do not ask if someone is married or has children.
-Religion: Do not ask about anyone’s personal beliefs.
-Additional personal questions: Do not ask about someone’s net worth, whether they own a home, whether they have filed for bankruptcy in the past or similar questions.
Keep It Fair
Occasionally, you might be interviewing someone and they voluntarily give information that was mentioned in the bulleted list above. Someone may bring up that they attend a certain church once every week completely unprompted, and the most important thing you can do is to put it out of your mind. Do not ask a follow-up question related to their religion, and eliminate it as a factor when you are selecting your new hire.
With a little foresight and good judgement, you should have no problems to keep the interview legal. For more interviewing insight, take a look at Mighty Recruiter’s additional resources.