People often assume common interview questions are lawful questions. But alas, some of the most common questions employers ask during interviews cross the boundary into potentially unlawful employment practices.
To help you figure out the do's and don'ts of interview questions, let's play a game of 20 questions.
Have you ever asked any of the following 20 interview questions?
- Are you married?
- What is your maiden name?
- How many children do you have? (Also off-limits: questions about pregnancy, future childbearing plans, single parenthood, and child care.)
- What is the name and address of the relative to be notified in case of an emergency?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? (Philadelphia's Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards prohibits this.)
- Have you ever been arrested?
- When is your birthday?
- When did you graduate from high school and college?
- Do you have a disability?
- What country are your parents from?
- Is English your first language?
- Do you have a car? (Unless a car is necessary for the job).
- Do you own your home?
- Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
- Have you ever filed for worker's compensation?
- Have you had any prior work injuries?
- Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
- Do you need certain religious holidays off?
- Were you discharged honorably from the military?
- When did you last use illegal drugs? (Only current use may be asked about).
At a glance, a number of these questions look benign enough, right? But from a legal standpoint, these questions can constitute unlawful discrimination in hiring practices.
Sometimes, it boils down the wording of the question that can give the appearance of discrimination. To steer clear of any legal issues, consider consulting an experienced employment law attorney to review your interview questions -- especially if they're boilerplate ones that might be outdated and no longer in compliance with current law.
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