For some recruiters, an interview is a recruitment process that will define everything. It can provide an insight into whether the candidate is worth hired or the other way round. Owing to its importance, conducting an interview can be stressful. Some questions are legal while some others might be off limit to ask. Therefore, recruiters have to understand how to avoid institutional and individual liability.
For your short guideline, here are the dos and don’ts questions you can ask candidates. Let’s stay compliant with employment law and avoid legal problems!
It is NOT appropriate to inquire about the name that would indicate an applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin or descent. Inquiries into the previous name of the applicant where it has been changed by court order, marriage, or otherwise.
It is APPROPRIATE to ask, “Is there any other name used for work or school that we should know in order to check on your work and education record? If yes, please provide a list.” This is the best asked at a point of serious consideration.
Marital and family status
It is NOT appropriate to inquire candidates, indicating whether an applicant is married, single, divorced, engaged, dating, etc.
It is APPROPRIATE to ask whether an applicant can meet specified work schedules is the only acceptable inquiry.
It is NOT appropriate to ask matters concerning racial affiliation of a school. How foreign language ability was acquired is not permissible.
It is APPROPRIATE to ask an applicant’s academic credentials, vocational, professional education, and school attended. Inquiry into language skills such as reading, speaking and writing foreign languages if job-related only.
Conviction, arrest and court record
It is NOT appropriate to ask candidates any subject matters related to arrests, ask or check into a person’s arrest, court, or conviction record if not a bona fide qualification.
It is APPROPRIATE to inquiry into actual convictions. However, if a conviction record is declared, this is not automatically a reason for rejecting the applicant. The final decision of these related matters should be discussed with Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Officers.
It is NOT appropriate to inquire about the sex of the applicant or any other inquiry that would indicate sex. Sex is not a bonafide occupational qualification. Therefore, you cannot ask the following questions.
Do you have children? If so, how old are they?
What does your spouse do for a living?
Who lives in your household?
Regarding female applicants, it is not appropriate to inquire about the following questions:
Thoughts on career vs. marriage
Husband’s job or career plans
What was your maiden name?
If they can type, unless typing is a requirement of the job.
What kind of childcare arrangements do you have?
Are you planning to have a family?
What kind of birth control methods do you use?
Ancestry of national origin
It is NOT appropriate to ask about the applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, birthplace, or mother tongue. Recruiters should not ask the national origin of the applicant's parents or spouse as well. Some questions that are not appropriate to ask are as follows:
What country are you a citizen of?
Are you a neutralised or a native-born citizen?
The applicant to produce their naturalisation papers
About the applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent parentage or nationality.
What language the applicant commonly uses
The name of any relative, such as parents, spouse, or minor children.
It is APPROPRIATE to ask the languages applicants need, speak, or write fluently, if job-related only. Must be included in position description if required. The following questions are appropriate to use:
What languages do you speak fluently?
Do you have the legal right to work in the U.S. / U.K. / India / other countries destined and for what period of time? (You may ask for proof of this)
Name and address of the person to be notified in case of emergency.
It is NOT appropriate to ask general inquiries, such as do you have any disabilities? which would tend to divulge disabilities or health conditions.
It is APPROPRIATE: If applicants indicate that they are reasonably able to perform the essential functions of the job and are qualified, there should be no inquiry regarding disabilities. And if applicants indicate that they require an accommodation to perform job duties and might be otherwise qualified, ask what accommodation is necessary and inform them that the request will be taken into consideration. Immediately after the interview, notify the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.
It is NOT appropriate to require the submission of a religious reference or request reference from the applicant's pastor.
It is APPROPRIATE to ask “by whom were you referred for a position here?” Names of persons willing to provide professional and/or character references for applicants.
Any question concerning credit rating, charge accounts, etc is not appropriate.
Organisation and religion
It is NOT appropriate to question the names of organisations to which the applicant belongs, if such information would indicate through character or name, race, religion, colour, or ancestry of the membership should not be asked.
It is APPROPRIATE to inquire into professional, or job-related organisations of which an applicant is a member, providing the name or character of the organisation does not reveal the race, religion, colour, or ancestry of the membership. Recruiters could simultaneously mention that the applicant should not name any organisations that might disclose race, religion, national origin or disability if this matter should be asked.