When you interview a candidate, often you are looking to learn more about them and find how they align with your company. Interviews involve asking a series of questions and diving in deep with your potential new hire. Everyone has been asked an awkward interview question, but some questions are 100% off limits.A good rule of thumb is to avoid questions that could be related to protected classes such as Age, Gender, Religion, Race, Color, National Origin, Disability, and pregnancy. We are going to review five questions that you cannot ask, and provide a better way to find out the information you are looking for.
1. "Do you have any disabilities?"
Another example is "Have you had any recent illnesses or operations?" We want to avoid medical information. It is important to gather relevant information when filling your position. For example, if your new hire may have to lift up to 50 pounds asking “Are you able to perform the specific duties of this position or essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?” is not unreasonable.
2. "What religious holidays do you observe?"
By presenting your paid holidays and standard schedule and asking “Are you able to work this schedule?” you avoid opening a conversation about what religion your candidate practices. It also allows you to open up a dialogue about what your potential new hires regular day to day schedule will look like.
3. "Are you in the National Guard or military Reserves?"
You can’t discriminate against a candidate because they may have obligations to the military and miss work. Instead, you should ask “Do you have any upcoming events that could require time away from work?” Honestly, this is a great question to ask regardless. With the rise in the gig economy, a lot of contract employees will schedule vacation time whenever they feel like it.
4. "How old are you?"
Don't ask this question to anyone ever. If you are trying to determine if the candidate is old enough to work for you, it is best to ask “Are you over the age of 18”. If you are trying to determine if someone will be around for several years (and not planning to retire next year, etc.), it is best to ask about their five-year career path to make sure their goals will fit with your position.
5. "Will you have childcare on short notice for working late or travel?"
It is best not to inquire or assume anything about someone’s family life (if they have children or are married). It is best to say instead, “This position could require overtime and travel every once in a while. Will that be a problem for you?" This is a polite way of informing your candidate that this is not strictly a 9-5 job.
We want to take a moment and thank Stephanie Bruha, Director of HR for her expert advice on all things HR and for helping us gather up all the questions you cannot ask a job applicant! Have questions about what you can and can not ask during an interview leave a comment or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.