5 questions NOT to ask in an interview Email
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 06:19 PM


Questions never to ask in an interviewMost people know to avoid direct questions about a candidate’s age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status and sexual orientation. Yet, many seemingly innocent questions like, “Are you married?” should be off limits too. Any question that asks job seekers to reveal information about themselves related to those off-limits topics – unless it is job-related – violates state and federal laws.

There are other ways to find out what you want to know – and it’s all in the asking. Here are 5 don’t-ask questions – and also how to get the info you need.

No. 1 – Have you ever been arrested?
Arrest records are off-limits. But you can ask whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime. You can also tell potential hires about where you work – such as schools, private neighborhoods, government buildings, etc. – and ask them if there is any reason they would not be able to work there. Often, applicant volunteer the nature of past legal violations within the context of telling you why they cannot work in certain situations. That is the information you need related to whether they would be permitted to work on certain job sites.

No. 2 – Are you married?
Another illegal question because it could reveal marital status and possibly sexual orientation. A related question about if a candidate has children is also inappropriate. If what you’re really after is how much time the applicant has for the job, ask him or her what commitments he or she has that could interfere with your work schedule. Constraints like needing to pick up kids at daycare and being the soccer coach will probably come up.

No. 3 – What country are you from?
If someone has an accent, this seems like a common-sense question to ask, but don’t. National origin is off limits. Ask instead if the person is authorized to work here. A similar question is asking if English is the person’s first language. Again, not lawful to ask. If you want to know language proficiency, ask what other languages the candidate speaks or writes. If proficiency in a language is desirable for the job, ask how fluent he or she is in that language.

No. 4 – What religious holidays do you practice?
This question reveals religious preference and that is illegal. What you probably want to know is if candidates are available to work on Saturday or Sunday. Ask directly them directly if they can work on those days.

No 5 – How long have you worked?
This question allows you to guess the candidate’s age and is unlawful. The same goes for questions about when a person graduated from high school or college. If what you are after is work experience related to the job, then ask how long he or she has been working in the industry.

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