Job Interview Questions: Don't Go There!

Beth Dean 02.16.16
28 Fist Bump

So you’re recruiting top talent for your company and find a few good options. Next comes the series of job interview questions to make sure the candidate is a good fit. 

Although the interview process should be thorough enough to get a good idea of the candidate’s personality and capabilities, there are a few topics that should be considered off-limits. These taboo topics can lead to an EEOC claim. Here are a few examples of what not to do:

Topic:

Don’t ask this:

Instead, ask this:

Family and Attendance

How many children do you have? How old are they? Do you have childcare and transportation lined up?

Are you able to work during the times that the job calls for? 

Citizenship

What country are you or your parents from? What’s your maiden name?

Are you legally eligible to work in the U.S.? Have you ever worked under a different name?

Arrests*

Have you ever been arrested?

Have you been convicted of a crime that would affect your job here?

Disabilities

Are you disabled?

Can you perform the essential duties of the job you are applying for, either with or without reasonable accommodation?

Military Record

What type of discharge did you receive?

What type of education, training, or work

experience did you acquire while in the military?

Language

What is your native language?

What languages do you speak and write fluently? (only if the job requires additional languages)

*Keep in mind that any question regarding a person’s criminal history is risky, and many states have enacted “ban the box” laws that keep employers from even asking this on job applications. Any discussions regarding criminal history should be confined only to the candidate’s ability to do the specific job at hand, but still tread carefully and contact Nextep’s HR team for guidance. 

There are also several topics that should never be asked of job applicants in any form, even under the guise of casual conversation. 

  • What is your race or nationality?
  • Have you ever had an on the job injury?
  • What is your religion? Which religious holidays do you observe?
  • What is your gender or title (Mrs., Ms., Mr.)? Are you married?
  • How old are you? What is your birth date?
  • What is your medical history? Do you have any health conditions?
  • New in 2020: What is your sexual preference or gender identity?

As a general rule, if the interview question has anything to do with personal information, including marital, religious, sexual orientation, economic, racial, gender, or health status, just don’t go there! Make sure all people in the interview session are aware of the laws and are capable of finding the best talent without broaching taboo topics. 

For human resource guidance, including sample interview questions, please contact Nextep’s HR team.

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