American Health and Wellness Group • April 23, 2019
There are many laws governing questions that employers may ask during the interview process. If a question has discriminatory implications or employment is denied based on the applicant’s answer, the employer may have broken the law. This article offers examples of illegal or inadvisable questions and some acceptable alternatives.
Federal and state laws generally require employers to limit their interview questions to those that are essential for determining if a person is qualified for the job. In general, employers should not ask about race, gender, religion, marital status, national origin or age because that information is irrelevant in determining if an applicant is qualified for the job. Also, federal law expressly prohibits employers from making pre-employment inquires about an applicant’s disability.
Illegal interview questions are those that single an individual out for reasons that are contrary to employment anti-discrimination laws. It is prohibited to ask these questions in any context, but if a question has discriminatory implications or employment is denied based on the applicant’s answer, the employer may have broken the law. As an overall rule, employers should limit their interview questions to those that are job-related and should discourage applicants from providing unsolicited personal information.
The following are examples of illegal or inadvisable questions and some acceptable alternatives.
Subject: Sexual Orientation
- Illegal Questions: Any inquiries directly or indirectly related to sexual orientation or gender identity. For example—what is your sexual orientation? What is your spouse’s gender? Whom do you live with? Do you identify yourself as a man or a woman?
- Acceptable Job-related Questions: None.
For more information on appropriate interview questions and HR support, contact us.