Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to sub-navigation

Guidance on Legal Aspects of Interview Questions

Subject Fair and Legal Pre-Employment QuestionsUnfair and Illegal Pre-Employment Questions
Age Birth date and proof of true age. Any question which implies a preference for employees under age 40.
Arrests and Convictions Arrests: none.  Convictions: It is permissible to inquire only about convictions which relate reasonably to fitness to perform the particular job being applied for. Any inquiry relating to arrests.  Inquiries about a conviction for an offense that does not relate reasonably to fitness to perform the particular job.
Children Whether an applicant has children or dependents is irrelevant, but you can ask, “Can you meet the work schedule requirements?” Statements such as “Do you have any children?” and “How many?”
Citizenship Applicant’s eligibility for U.S. employment and the applicant’s ability to provide identification and eligibility verification as required by the immigration and naturalization service. Whether applicant is a citizen.  Any inquiry into citizenship that divulges applicant’s ancestry, national origin, birthplace, or present citizenship.  It is also illegal to require a birth certificate or naturalization records before hiring.
Credit or Finances None. Questions on credit, finances, or garnishments.
Disabilities It is permissible to request job-related information; for example, whether applicant has certain specific disabilities which relate reasonably to fitness to perform the particular job. Overt questions which could tend to divulge disabilities or health conditions which do not relate reasonably to fitness to perform the particular job.  For example, “Do you have any handicaps?”
Family Applicant’s ability to meet specific work requirements such as specific work schedules, travel, and attendance. Specific inquiries concerning spouse, spouse’s employment or salary, children, childcare arrangements, or other dependents.
Height and Weight Questions concerning the ability to perform actual job requirements.  (Being a certain height or weight is not a requirement unless the employer can show that an employee with an ineligible height and weight could not do the work because of height and weight.) All inquiries that are not based on actual job requirements.
Language

 

If proficiency of a language is a job requirement, “What language(s) do you read, write, and speak fluently?” may be asked.

Inquiries about an applicant’s first language.
Marital Status None. Whether the applicant is married, single, divorced, separated, engaged, or widowed.
Military

 Questions about education, training, or work experience acquired in the armed forces of the United States.  Questions about type and dates of discharge may be asked about U.S. military service if an applicant claims veteran’s preference.

Type or condition of military discharge.  Whether applicant has experience in other U.S. armed forces.  Requests for discharge papers.
Name Whether applicant has worked for CC under a different name and if so, what name.  Name applicant is known to references. Questions about original name if the name has been changed by court order or marriage.  Inquiries that could divulge marital status, lineage, ancestry, national origin, or descent.
National Origin Questions about other language skills if those skills are job requirements. Inquiries into applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, birthplace, or native tongue.  Inquiries about national origin of applicant’s parents or spouse.
Organizations Questions about job-related organization membership unless the organization membership is an indication of race, color, creed, sex, marital status, or national origin. Requirements that the applicant list all organizations, clubs, societies, and lodges to which he or she belongs.
Photographs None. Mandatory or optional request that applicant must submit photo.
Pregnancy

Inquiries that are made to males and females concerning any anticipated absences and expected duration of employment.  (Also see disability.)

All questions about pregnancy, medical history concerning pregnancy and related matters.  (Also see disability.)

Race

None.

Any inquiries concerning race or color of skin, hair, eyes, etc.

Relatives Names of applicant’s relatives currently employed at CC. Names and addresses of any relative other than those employed at CC.
Religion or Creed None.

Inquiries concerning applicants religious denomination, religious affiliation, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed.

Residence Mailing address and telephone number. Names or relationships of people living with applicant.  Whether applicant owns or rents a home.
Sex / Gender None. All inquiries.  Any questions that would elicit information about sexual orientation or that could be used in allegation of discrimination.