Illegal interview questions are the bane of employers and Human Resources departments. Often, without thinking, curiosity leads an interviewer to ask questions that are not legal. Sometimes the interviewer thinks he has good questions and just is not aware some of them are illegal. Sometimes the interviewer has not taken the time to check out his questions with a lawyer or counsel. In any case, illegal questions can get an organization in a boat load of trouble. Here are some questions that often get interviewers out of legal territory – check yourself to see if you are asking legal questions.
You will need to attend a number of out-of-town weekend conferences in this job. Does weekend travel present a problem for you?
You need to be at work everyday at 8am sharp. How will you arrange child care?
This is an out-of-town job. Will your spouse relocate?
What kind of “reasonable accommodation” will you need to do this job?
How many days did you miss last year because of illness?
Are you legally allowed to work in this country?
This job requires fluency in German. Are you fluent?
What does your spouse do for a living?
You have an unusual name. What nationality is it?
You will be in charge of large sums of money. Have you every been arrested for stealing?
You will need to lift heavy boxes of 35 pounds or more. Are you able to do that with or without reasonable accommodation?
Are you married?
Do you have children?
Have you ever filed a discrimination or whistle-blowing complaint against any of your former employers?
Do you plan on being out on pregnancy leave within the next two years?
Have you ever filed a Workers Compensation claim?
How healthy do you consider yourself to be?
Your resume says you are involved in lots of church activities. Will that keep you from working on occasional Sundays?
Have you ever been arrested?
What makes you the best candidate for this job?
There are only five legal questions in this whole list. They are numbers 1, 6, 7, 11 and 20. The rest either have no bearing in whether a person can do the job, require the candidate to reveal a disability or solicit information about a person’s religion, health or legal records. The big thing about interview questions is that they have to be directly job related – they have to solicit information that is required to do the job – known as bona fide job requirements. The best rule of thumb is to ask your human resources department. If that is not possible don’t ask the question if there is any doubt in your mind.