If you’re interviewing job candidates, you want to make sure they’re qualified for the role. But you also might be curious about them personally. However: there are certain legal restrictions that keep you from asking some questions deemed a bit too personal. Here are the top things you can’t ask anyone you’re interviewing.
1. Age or Birthdate
You might prefer to hire someone who is a bit older, with more job experience or a younger candidate who "fits your corporate culture". But leave the age and birthdate questions alone unless you want to be up next in an age discrimination law suit. You can not ask the age of a candidate. Besides, your hiring decisions should be based on who can do this job the best, not his specific age.
2. Birth Place
This might seem an innocuous enough question, but some employers have gotten slapped on the wrist for asking a candidate’s country of birth. If you are worried about the person's eligibility to work in the United States, you can simply ask if he is legally authorized to work in the United States.
3. Religious Beliefs
In no way should a person’s religious or spiritual beliefs come up during a job interview. Even if your company considers itself of a particular religious following, you cannot discriminate hiring someone based on his or her own religion.
4. Relationship Status
Sometimes you may think you’re just having a casual conversation and may bring up the subject of relationships, but be aware that if the job candidate reports you as having asked about the relationship status, you could be in serious hot water. Whether or not he or she is married, single, straight or gay simply doesn’t factor into the interview process and job eligibility.
Many employers are concerned if a woman is of child-bearing age, she might quit a position as soon as she has a baby. This is an archaic mindset, and one you should avoid. Nor can you ask if a candidate has children.
While you can ask if a person is able to “carry out all necessary job assignments/functions and perform them in a safe manner,” you can’t outright ask if he or she has any sort of physical or mental disabilities. This is a regulation from the American Disabilities Act.
7. Questions About the Spouse
You cannot ask a job candidate’s spouse’s name, occupation, or salary. Nor can you ask personal questions about any other family member of the candidate. It is lawful, however, to ask if a spouse or close family member is currently employed by the organization.
8. Military Discharge
While you can ask if a candidate served in a branch of the US military, you can’t ask the reason for discharge or further details about his or her military record.
9. Clubs and Organizations
Your job candidate may be a member of one or more clubs or organizations, but you should shy away from asking. Asking if the person is a part of a professional organizations such as PRSA is okay. You want to stay away from asking about social clubs or organizations that may reveal political, religious, and other protected interests.
During the job interview, stay clear of any topics that might be misconstrued to be asked that shouldn’t be. Instead, focus on the candidate’s job skills and experience as it relates to the position you are interviewing for. Make an effort to get to know the individual through safe questions, and use your best judgment for whether or not she’s the best fit for your organization.
Realize that most job candidates will know what you aren’t allowed to ask, and don’t chance getting reported for bringing up the wrong questions during the interview.