When interviewing candidates for a position at your company, you want to learn as much about them as possible. However, many topics are not only offensive — they’re illegal. Even the slightest touch on subjects such as age, disabilities, citizenship, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, race, military discharge status can cross the line into illegal status.
It is vital to make sure everyone in your company responsible for conducting interviews is well aware of these rules, so they don’t accidentally violate them. You do not want to risk getting sued by a candidate, because someone inadvertently asked an inappropriate question.
3 Illegal Questions to Avoid During an Interview
The following three questions are illegal to ask candidates, so cross them off your list of interview topics to cover:
- Have you ever been arrested? You may not realize this, but making sure you only hire candidates with a squeaky clean arrest record can actually get you in big trouble. People are innocent until proven guilty, so you’re only allowed to ask if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. Laws vary by state, but convictions typically do not automatically disqualify people for jobs unless the crime is directly relevant to the work.
- Do you have children or plan to? This question may seem harmless, but it is actually against the law to ask candidates about their family status. If you do and don’t end up hiring them, they could actually sue you for discrimination — whether or not their family life had anything to do with your decision. It’s easy for the topic of kids to come up in casual conversation, so be cognizant to avoid this question at all costs.
- What religious holidays do you observe? All questions related to religion are completely off-limits, so don’t even try to go there. The closest you can get is asking if candidates are available to work on Sundays. Prepare to be hit with a lawsuit if you try to figure out if a candidate’s religious holidays sync with your company calendar.
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