Hiring managers who frequently conduct interviews of job candidates ask many different kinds of questions, some that are rather common, and others that may be a little out of the ordinary, to get a sense of the person, their personality and their values.
As hiring managers are pursuing a line of inquiry, however, they need to be careful that they don’t stray into forbidden territory legally. This is easy to do. A hiring manager may not even be aware what is illegal to begin with, or they may unintentionally cross the boundary without realizing it.
That is why it’s important for hiring managers to know what the legal guidelines are when it comes to interviewing. Most of these guidelines revolve around preventing practices that may be discriminatory.
What is Covered Under the Law
These forbidden questions relate to age, gender, race, religion, and disability. The intent of the law is to prevent discrimination based on any of these elements. What the law says is that an employer should not be able to eliminate anyone from consideration for a job because of their gender, age, race, religion, or disability.
The only time it may be permissible to ask a question directly related to any of these categories is if they would affect the person’s ability to do the job.
For example, because employers are legally required to only hire adults, it is perfectly acceptable to ask a job candidates if they are over the age of 18. However, employers should not ask the job candidate when they were born or how old they are.
You should also avoid asking job candidates whether they are married, if they own a home, where they go to church, if they have children or are pregnant. Generally, these things have no impact on the ability of a person to do a job.
However, it is OK for an employer to ask the job candidates if they have any obligations that would interfere with their attendance for a job or that would affect their ability to travel.
You can ask a job candidate if they have been convicted of a crime, but not if they have been arrested. And you cannot use the criminal record itself as a reason for not hiring a person. As with the other areas covered under the law, you need to show that the criminal conviction would adversely affect the person’s ability to do the job.
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