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Married? Age? Kids? Can You Ask These Questions of Employment Candidates?

Image result for employee interview asking questions

Can you ask a prospective employee her age?  Is the candidate married?  What about a phone number for an emergency contact?

With employment regulations one of the fastest changing sectors of human resources and company personnel management today, we compiled an employment interview Can/Can’t Ask questions list for you today from hiring information from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration.

Address/ Housing/Length of Residence

CAN ASK:

• Place and length of current and previous address

• For applicant’s phone number or how s/he can be reached

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST:

• Specific inquiry into foreign addresses that would indicate national origin

• Names or relationship of persons with whom applicant resides

• Whether applicant rents or owns home

Age

BEFORE HIRING ONLY:

• If a minor, require proof of age in the form of a work permit or a certificate of age

• If age is a legal requirement, can ask “If hired, can you furnish proof of age?” or a statement that hire is subject to verification of age

• Whether or not an applicant is younger than the employer’s regular retirement age

AFTER HIRING ONLY:

• Require proof of age by birth certificate

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST:

• About the age or age group or date of birth of the applicant

• Birth certificate or baptismal record before hiring

• Questions that would tend to identify persons between 40 and 60 years of age.

Ancestry/ Birthplace/ National Origin

CAN ASK:

• “After employment, can you submit a birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship or other proof of the right to remain in or work in the U.S.?”

• About foreign language skills (reading, speaking, and/or writing) if relevant to the job

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• If an applicant is native-born or naturalized

• The birthplace of applicant

• Questions which identify customs or denomination

• About birthplace of his/her parents, grandparents and/or spouse or other relatives

• Require applicant submit a birth certificate or naturalization or baptismal record before employment

• About any other inquiry into national origin (for applicant or his or her spouse or parents; maiden name of wife or mother)

• First language

• Date of arrival in U.S.

• Port of entry Citizenship CAN ASK:

• Whether a U.S. citizen

• If no, whether intends to become one

• If you are not a U.S. citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the U.S.?

• If not a citizen, are you prevented from lawfully becoming employed because of visa or immigration status?

• If spouse is a citizen

• Statement that, if hired, applicant may be required to submit proof of citizenship.

AFTER HIRING ONLY:

• Require proof of citizenship

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• “Of what country are you a citizen?”

• If native born or naturalized (for applicant or his or her parents or spouse)

• Proof of citizenship before hiring

• Whether parents and/or spouse is native born or naturalized

• Date of citizenship (for applicant or his or her parents or spouse)

Credit Rating NO questions may be asked regarding credit. 

Criminal Record (Arrests and Convictions)

CAN ASK:

• About actual convictions other than misdemeanors that relate reasonable to fitness to perform a particular job

• About convictions or imprisonment if crimes relate to job duties and conviction or release from imprisonment occurred within the last ten years

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• To inquire about arrests without convictions

• Check into a person’s arrest, court, or conviction record if not substantially related to functions and responsibilities of the particular job in question.

• About any involvement in demonstrations

Disabilities

CAN ASK:

• Whether or not applicant is able to carry out all necessary job assignments/functions and perform them in a safe manner “How would you perform this particular task?”

• Applicant to indicate how and to what extent they are disabled. Employer must indicate to applicants that (1) compliance with the invitation is voluntary; (2) information is being sought only to remedy discrimination or provide opportunities for the disabled; (3) information will be kept confidential; and (4) refusing to provide information will not result in adverse treatment. accommodation(s) he or she may need until after the interviewer has established that the applicant is qualified for the job and is considering that person for employment. An employer must be prepared to prove that any physical and mental requirements for a job are due to “business” necessity” and the safe performance of the job. Except in cases where undue hardship can be proven, employer must make “reasonable accommodations” for the physical and mental limitations of an employee or applicant.

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST:

• How or when disability occurred

Education

CAN ASK:

• What academic, professional or vocational schools attended

• About language skills such as reading and writing foreign languages

• Office skills

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• Specifically ask the nationality, racial or religious affiliation of schools attended

• To ask how foreign language ability was acquired

Experience

CAN ASK ABOUT:

• Applicant’s work experience, including names and addresses of previous employers, dates of employment, reasons for leaving, and salary history

• Other countries visited

Family/Relatives

CAN ASK:

• If the spouse is employed at the company/firm

• Names of applicant’s relatives already employed by company

• Names and addresses of parents or guardian of minor applicants

AFTER HIRING ONLY:

• To ask name, relationship and address of person to be notified in case of emergency

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• Name of a spouse

• Whether or not a spouse is employed

• How much a spouse earns

• Whether or not a spouse is subject to transfer

• Questions about any relative of a candidate

• Names of relatives not working for the institution

• Name or address of any relative of adult applicant, other than those employed by company/firm

Gender/Sex Inquiry

AFTER HIRING ONLY:

• Can ask about gender for affirmative action plan statistics

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• Sex of applicant

• Anything which would indicate gender unless job related.

Health/Physical Condition

CAN ASK:

“Do you have any physical, mental or sensory handicaps which might affect work performance or which should be considered in job placement?”

May NOT ask

• “Do you have any handicaps?” or questions that divulge handicaps which do not relate to the job.

• Any questions regarding having received worker’s compensation.

Marital/ Parental Status  

BEFORE HIRING:

• Whether applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities, commitments, or responsibilities that may hinder the meeting of work attendance requirements. If such questions are asked, they must be asked of both sexes.

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• About marital status before hiring (married, single, divorced, engaged, etc.)

• About the number and age of children

AFTER HIRING ONLY:

• Married or single status for insurance and tax purposes Number and ages of dependents and age of spouse for insurance and tax purposes

• Information on child-care arrangements

• About pregnancy and if applicant plans to have (more) children

• Any question that directly or indirectly results in limitation of job opportunity in any way

Military Service

CAN ASK:

• Inquiry into service in U.S. armed forces

• Branch of service and rank attained

• Any education or job related experience as it relates to a particular job

• Require military discharge certificate after hiring

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK ABOUT OR REQUEST

• Military records

• Military service of any country other than the U.S

• Type of discharge

Religion/Creed

CAN ADVISE:

• An applicant about normal hours and days of work required by the job to avoid possible conflict with religions or other personal convictions

IT IS ILLEGAL TO ASK/REQUEST

• Applicant’s religions denomination or affiliation, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed

• Applicants may not be told that any particular religious groups are required to work on their religious holidays.

• About applicant’s religion or religious customs and/or holidays

• Recommendations from church officials

As with anything else in the workplace, when hiring, exercise common sense, compassion and restraint in asking for unnecessary personal information.  Stick to the task at hand – hiring skilled, competent and willing workers.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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