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How employers can navigate illegal interview questions

| Dec 4, 2019 | Employment Law

Job interviews can be an important way of testing a candidate’s eligibility. That’s because the way job seekers perform in the interview can determine if they have the skills, characteristics and experience necessary for the position they’re going after.

To do this, employers need to make sure their employment screening practices comply with federal and state laws, as asking specific questions could get the company in trouble with the EEOC.

However, this can be difficult as interviewers may want to obtain certain information and interviewees might bring up answers to illegal questions even if the employer didn’t ask them.

Questions that are considered illegal

Hiring managers may want to avoid addressing these topics:

  • Asking if the candidate is married or has kids.
  • Asking the candidate what religion they practice.
  • Asking if the candidate drinks socially.
  • Asking how the candidate handles their finances.
  • Asking if the candidate has a disability.
  • Asking about their birthplace or national origin.
  • Asking if the candidate has ever served jail time.
  • Asking the candidate if they were ill within the last few years

Navigating risky answers

If interviewers or hiring managers find the discussion getting off course, it can be a good idea for them to redirect the conversation. For example, if a candidate says they need a flexible schedule because they have younger children, the interviewer can address the company’s options for working from home.

In another case, an interviewee may bring up that they enjoy reading the Bible in their free time. If this occurs, the employer may want to move on to the next question to avoid talking about religion.

Employers can prepare in advance

The rules surrounding hiring can make the process more challenging. However, by preparing in advance and understanding their rights, employers can better understand how to conduct ethical and legal employment screenings.