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What questions can employers not ask in job interviews?

Ninja Gig offers employers the convenience of accepting online job applications. While these employment applications are customizable, it is important for employers to know what types of questions are illegal or questionable under federal laws.

In fact, nearly 20-percent of company’s hiring managers admit to having asked a question that is off limits, with nearly one-third of hiring and human resources managers admitting they are not familiar with the legality of interview questions.  The following highlights some of the questions that employers should never ask on job interviews:

  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children and if not, do you plan to?
  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • What is your political affiliation?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you disabled?
  • What is your race, color or ethnicity?
  • Do you participate in social drinking or smoking? (Please note this question does not pertain to illegal drugs.)
  • Are you in debt?

The aforementioned questions can easily give evidence of discrimination on job interviews, which opens companies to potential lawsuits and government fines.  The government protects people based on national origin, age, religion, citizenship, disabilities, gender/sex and familial status. To ask any questions that hint toward breaching this opens companies up to legal issues. Additionally, some states and cities have increased employment protection, adding laws that relate to sexual orientation, breastfeeding in a public place, gender identity, use of Section 8 certificates, military status or Veteran, etc.

However, there are ways to comply with federal laws, while obtaining any necessary information that does affect a company. For example, age is a touchy subject. Many states have age discrimination laws, which begin at 40 years old; however, there are select states that have lowered this to 18 years old. To be safe, interviewers can ask minors to provide proof of age in the form of a certificate of age or a work permit. If age is a requirement for a job, it is acceptable to say, “If hired, can you furnish proof of age?” Once an employee is hired, it is standard to require proof of age by a birth certificate, driver’s license, work VISA or passport. These types of questions come into play for bar tending jobs, which require anyone around alcohol to be 21 years of age or older, companies that are allowed to hire children 14 years and older, after school work programs, etc.

Employers can also ask if applicants have any physical, mental or sensory handicaps that might affect their work performance or may need consideration before job placement. What employers may not ask is if candidates have any handicaps. They may also not ask any questions about if candidates have received worker’s compensation from previous employers, as this indicates an on-the-job accident or disability.

While the rules surrounding employment questions may seem daunting to human resource professionals, they are designed to encourage employers to solely focus on candidates’ qualifications. Hiring managers need to keep these types of questions in mind when creating job applications online.  Sign up today for your free trial and start asking custom questions for your job openings.