In today’s job market, where employers shell out significant amounts of time and money to recruit, hire and onboard candidates, it is normal for human resources professionals to be inquisitive during the hiring process. And for many years, it was both legal and ethical for these professionals to ask candidates a multitude of questions – personal and otherwise – prior to making a decision. However, as laws and societal norms have shifted towards creating a more inclusive workforce, so have questioning expectations for employers; making asking the right questions crucial to a company’s success and compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
When it comes to questions posed during the hiring process, a good general rule for employers to follow is to avoid asking any/all questions that may be deemed intrusive or exclusive. Essentially, this means if the question has the potential to reveal information about the candidate’s personal life – it’s likely inappropriate and/or illegal.
Question topics to exclude from applications, questionnaires and interviews are race, gender identity, class, ethnicity, culture, marital status, parental status, religion, salary history (only illegal in certain regions, but good to avoid altogether), criminal record/conviction history, etc. Asking these types of questions is not only risky, but ineffective as the most negative candidate information (outside of being under-qualified, of course) usually is revealed during the background/drug screening process.
Additional limitations/regulations may exist within EEOC, local and other federal regulations, and it is important for hiring managers to understand these laws. Your organization’s legal counsel can provide specific insight and clarifying information. In the meantime, however, examples of both risky and beneficial questions have been provided below.
Negative questions include:
- Where do you see yourself personally five years from now?
- How much do you currently make? Why are you requesting higher compensation?
- Will your religious affiliation impact the work you do, or your availability?
Positive questions posing no/minimal risks include:
- How do your qualifications align with the responsibilities of this position?
- Can you walk us through the process you’ve followed to successfully complete a project of this magnitude in the past?
- Are you comfortable interfacing with people from diverse backgrounds?
Asking the right questions during the interview process will aid in ensuring the right candidates are selected for hire, as well as helping to ensure the wrong candidates do not become future litigants.
For more information, or for assistance evaluating your organization’s current program and future needs, contact AccuSource today or by phone at 888-649-6272.
This information is not intended to be legal advice. It is recommended that you speak with your Legal Counsel to ensure compliance with applicable law.