Q: What questions should I avoid asking when conducting an interview?
A: In general, whenever you question a potential employee, your first question to yourself should be, is this question job-related? If it is not, do NOT ask it. If there is a legitimate business reason for needing to have an answer, then it is okay to ask that question. For example, religion is a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If you were in construction, it would be illegal for you to question a person’s religion. However, if someone were applying for a priest’s position in a parish, it would be appropriate to question the individual’s religion.
Questions can be inappropriate even if the questioning is not along the lines of governed protected classes. Personal questions are generally not okay. For instance, you may believe that you want to know if your female candidate has children because then she might take time off for childcare. This may seem like it is alright to ask for the business purpose of wanting individuals at work on a consistent basis, but this would be an illegal question, especially if only asked of female candidates. The bottom line is whether or not the need to know is for legitimate business purposes.
According to the EEOC, It Is Illegal to Ask a Candidate Questions About Their:
- Race, Color, or National Origin
- Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation
- Pregnancy status
- Age or Genetic Information
- Marital Status or Number of Children