Interviewers: Are You Asking Wrong or Potentially Illegal Interview Questions? (Part II)

Today, we’re going to finish up our list of potentially illegal questions that interviewers sometimes find themselves asking.

As we mentioned yesterday in part one of this post, some of these questions are very common in the interviewing process. So without further ado, here is the rest of our list of questions you can ask–and which illegal interview questions you should avoid:

  • Age
    What you can’t ask:
    “How old are you?; When did you graduate from high school/college?; What is your birthday?; How long have you been working?” What you can ask: “How long have you been working in the industry?; What kind of experience do you have?”

    We’ve mentioned age discrimination before, but stressing the point further doesn’t hurt. Yes, wanting to know how much relative experience a candidate has for a job is certainly a relevant question, but asking for it in relation to their age is setting yourself up for trouble. Remember, though, there are some cases where asking about age is okay.

  • Religion
    What you can’t ask:
    “What religious holidays do you practice?; Do you go to church on Sundays?” What you can ask: “Are you available to work on Sundays?; We need coverage during the following seasons, is that a problem for you?”

    Again, wanting to learn about a candidate’s time commitment and how their schedule will fit with your company’s schedule is perfectly fine, but you should never inquire about an employee’s religious background.

  • Disabilities
    What you can’t ask:
    “Do you have any disabilities/any physical or mental impairments?” What you can ask: “Are you able to perform this job with or without reasonable accommodations?”

    It’s okay to ask whether a candidate can perform the job, but make sure that the questions you ask pertain specifically to the job.

  • Military
    What you can’t ask: “Have you ever been in the military?; What type of discharge did you receive?; What branch of the Armed Forces did you serve?” What you can ask: “What type of training, education or work experience did you receive in the military?”

    Wanting to know what kind of work experience a candidate received is fine, but make sure you keep the questions to just that.

  • Other questions: When asking these last two questions, keep in mind that they cannot disqualify a candidate unless it directly affects their ability to perform the job.

    Arrest and conviction: What you can’t ask: “Have you ever been arrested?” What you can ask: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, when, where and what was the disposition of the case?”

    Financial status: What you can’t ask: “Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?; Do you own a house or any property?” What you can ask: “May we check your credit history?”

Remember, these questions shouldn’t be considered as ways to get around discrimination laws. Instead, they’re simply meant to prevent you from making the all-too-common mistakes that occur in the interviewing process. Employers asking illegal interview questions is a real problem, and you should make sure to do everything you can to stay on-point.

All of your questions should relate specifically to the job at hand. Keeping these questions in mind when you interview can help minimize discrimination and make for a better interviewing process. And who doesn’t want that?

Here at AIM Careerlink, we’re committed to helping employers find the best talent around–and that means helping you throughout the hiring process. If you have any questions about this blog post, or anything else we’ve written, let us know by connecting with us on our Facebook or Twitter.