The Interview Questions You Can’t Ask
Trying to find the perfect employee during the hiring process is difficult! Even with all of the technology we have available, this is one task that largely relies on manpower. After reviewing resumes and narrowing your options, you’re then left to learn as much as you can about applicants in short interviews. It’s natural to be curious during this exchange, but from a human resources standpoint, there are certain interview questions you just can’t ask.
How old are you?
Seems harmless enough, but this factor shouldn’t influence your decision in any way. While you’re able to ask basic question questions that concern their eligibility, that really doesn’t extend beyond “Are you over 18?” Age discrimination is a very serious issue today that impacts individuals at either end of the spectrum (and everywhere in between). Don’t try to get around this by asking about retirement either. That could still be perceived as a discriminatory question. Make it more individual. Take the time to learn about their short- and long-term goals, then base your decision off that!
Are you married?
This particular question is problematic for a variety of reasons. Since it has little to do with their job qualifications, it seems like a purely personal inquiry. In certain exchanges, it could come even come across as a sexual advance—or harassment. Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of any questions regarding the interviewee’s romantic life. Don’t ask about boyfriends/girlfriends, living situations, sexual orientation, divorces, or anything of the sort. It’s also considered inappropriate to ask a woman if she’s using her maiden name. If you’re worried about checking her references and/or educational credentials, try asking if she’s earned a degree or worked under another name previously. That’s also a valid question for men, if you’re looking to remove all gender bias from your interviewing process.
Do you have children?
Depending on the job for which you’re hiring, this might seem like a perfectly logical question. If it’s working with children, you want to know that they have experience. If it requires frequent night/weekend hours, you may be worried about the interference with their home life/childcare. Still, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re providing preferential treatment to applicants either with or without children.
Try to tailor your questions more specifically to the available position. Use alternate options such as “Tell me about your experience working with this age group” or “Are you able to accommodate nights and weekends if you get the job?” Once they ace the job interview and become officially hired, then you can ask about children. In fact, you can ask about spouses and their ages, too—for insurance purposes.
Where are you from?
While this may seem like small talk in social situations, during a job interview this is a big red flag. Anything that pertains to race or ethnicity should be handled delicately, since neither of these factors are allowed to influence hiring process if you want to remain compliant with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You’re allowed to inquire about their eligibility to work in the United States. You can even request that they provide proof! It’s actually a common inclusion on job applications today. But once you start asking about their heritage or countries of origin, that could be construed as discrimination.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the interview process, we can help you put proper procedures in place. At The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin, P.A. we frequently work with Employer-Employee law to protect the interests of our clients. We’ve assisted clients with drafting employee contracts, employment manuals, and even interview scripts complete with follow-up questions. Contact our office today to learn how we can help you grow your business in a compliant fashion!