By Kristen Wakulchuk


When you interview a job candidate, how can you be sure you keep all your questions legal and above board? You want to avoid any inquiries that may result in charges of discrimination, an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or a costly lawsuit.  

The EEOC suggests that several interview questions be avoided, including:


How old are you?  

A variation of this question might be something like, “What year did you graduate high school?” The only cases permissible are those where age is a legal requirement for a job – such as working in a bar. Then, you can not only request a candidate’s age but also ask for proof.  


Have you ever been arrested?  

Generally, only law enforcement agencies can pose this question to job candidates. For other employers, if an arrest was directly related to the position for which an individual is applying, it may be okay to ask – but you’re walking a very thin line. Also, rejecting candidates based on an arrest record has been shown to impact some racial groups.  


What days and shifts are you available to work?  

Also, steer clear of asking, “Are there any personal responsibilities that would make it difficult for you to get to work?” or “Do you have a car to get to work?”   

  • The former could be interpreted as asking about religious commitments, which is verboten; for instance, if a job involves Saturday and Sunday hours. Or, it could imply that a person may have child care responsibilities. Of course, many candidates have either or both of these considerations; but you still cannot ask.  
  • Asking if a person has a car could be seen as racially discriminating unless it’s a specific requirement of a job.  


Are you a U.S. citizen?  

You also cannot ask, “Where were you born?” or “How did you learn (a certain language)?” Again, asking about fluency in a certain language is permissible only if it is a job requirement, such as a translator or Spanish speaking phone operator.  


Do you have a disability?  

It is permissible to describe a job and then ask a candidate if they can perform all the functions. But you cannot ask whether they’ve ever filed a workers’ compensation claim or suffered a workplace injury.  

As you interview job candidates, you can sometimes feel like you’re on a tightrope. Is a question okay to ask? Your intentions certainly aren’t mean or menacing… but might they be interpreted as such? And if so, what are the repercussions?  


Trust Chane Solutions.

Chane Solutions – a nationwide leader in background screening and drug testing services – can help ensure you handle interviewing correctly and effectively and avoid any harmful collateral damage. Our experts offer decades of knowledge and experience, ranging from entry-level to executive leadership involvement. Read our related posts or contact us today to learn more. 

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