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You can't ask that


Are the interview questions you ask appropriate?

Not knowing which questions are legal and which ones aren’t can cost an employer thousands of dollars defending against a claim of discrimination.

According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, interviewers should ask applicants only questions that are directly job-related.

Can you spot the illegal questions?

Listed below are 10 possible interview questions. Do you know which of the 10 might be considered discriminatory?

  1. Have you ever been arrested?
  2. Do you own a car?
  3. What is your maiden name?
  4. Do you have a disability?
  5. Have you ever filed a workers’ comp claim?
  6. How many sick days did you take last year?
  7. Do you own your own home?
  8. Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
  9. What year did you graduate from high school/college?
  10. Name and address of relative to notify in case of an emergency.

Answer: None of the questions listed are acceptable interview questions. Some of the topics included above can be rephrased and may be used in an interview if they help determine an applicant’s qualifications for the job.

  1. Don’t ask: Have you ever been arrested?
    An employer can ask “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” (Conviction records should not be used as an absolute bar to employment. Exclusion based on arrest record must be job-related.)
  2. Don’t ask: Do you own a car?
    An employer can ask, “Do you have reliable transportation for getting to work?”
  3. Don’t ask: What is your maiden name?
    An employer can ask, “Have you ever worked under a different name?”
  4. Don’t ask: Do you have a disability?
    An employer can ask, “Can you perform the duties of the job?” (Additional information on job applicants and the Americans with Disabilities Act.)
  5. Don’t ask: Have you ever filed a worker’s comp claim?
    Questions regarding workers’ comp claims are not acceptable.
  6. Don’t ask: How many sick days did you take last year?
    An employer can explain the job’s attendance requirements and ask, “Will you be able to meet these?”
  7. Don’t ask: Do you own your own home?
    Questions regarding home ownership are not acceptable.
  8. Don’t ask: Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
    Questions regarding personal bankruptcy are not acceptable. If essential to the job, credit references may be used in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 and the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996.
  9. Don’t ask: What year did you graduate from high school/college?
    An employer can ask, “Do you have a high school diploma or equivalent? Do you have a college degree?” (If relevant to job performance)
  10. Don’t ask: Name and address of relative to notify in case of an emergency.
    Rather than ask for the name of a relative, the interviewer may ask, “Name and address of person to be notified in case of an emergency.”

As you prepare interview questions for your company’s next job opening, keep in mind that questions about age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, gender and veteran status will not meet EEOC guidelines unless the employer can prove the question represents a bona fide occupational qualification. As an employer, always consider whether the questions you are asking are necessary to assess the applicant’s qualifications, level of skills, and competence to do the job.

Our 10-question quiz represents just a few potential interview questions. Are there other questions that you, as an employer, are uncertain about asking? You can find up-to-date guidance at the EEOC website.

Give us a call at Employment Edge. Our staffing experts can help you craft a set of legal, relevant, and effective interview questions.

Employment Edge Staffing
605-271-5627

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