You've worked hard to create a list of qualified candidates for the open position at your company. Now it's time to start the interview process and find the best person for the job. But beware – there are certain questions that are off-limits, and you should avoid asking them during an interview.
These questions can be discriminatory, illegal, or simply irrelevant to the job. Asking these questions can put the employer at risk of a lawsuit. Additionally, they may give the impression that the employer is not professional or competent.
To avoid any legal trouble or negative impressions, it is important to know which are these questions. In this article, we'll go over questions you should avoid. Asking any of these could put you and your company at risk, so it's best to steer clear of them altogether.
Questions that violate racial or ethnic equality laws
- What is your country of origin?
- What is your native language?
- What is your race?
- What is your ethnic background?
Asking any of these questions can give the impression that you are hiring based on race or ethnicity, which is illegal in many countries. By avoiding these questions, employers can help ensure that they comply with the law and treat all applicants fairly.
Questions that discriminate against women
- Are you married? What is your husband's name?
- Do you have children? / Do you plan on having children?
- What are your childcare arrangements?
- Are you comfortable working in a male-dominated environment?
- Will you be taking maternity leave soon?
They can discourage women from applying for a job or promotion. This type of discrimination is obvious and makes it difficult for women to compete on an equal footing with men. So, it's better that you should refrain from these questions.
Questions about a candidate's religion or religious beliefs
- What religion do you practice?
- What religious holidays do you celebrate?
- What are your religious beliefs?
- What are your thoughts on [religious topic]?
- How often do you attend religious services?
Employers cannot use religious criteria to screen candidates during the interview process. Asking questions about religious beliefs can also create a hostile work environment for employees of different religions. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid these types of questions during an interview and instead focus on the candidate's qualifications for the position.
Questions that violate laws against asking a prospective employee about their sex life or sexual orientation
- What is your sexual orientation?
- What is your sexual preference?
- Are you sexually active?
- Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases?
A candidate's sex life or sexual orientation is not relevant to their ability to do the job. It is illegal for an employer to ask questions that are not directly related to job performance.
Questions about a candidate's disability or health status
- Have you ever had surgery?
- When were you last sick?
- Are you disabled?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- How many sick days did you take last year?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking questions about a candidate's disability or health status during an interview. The only exceptions are if you have a bona fide occupational qualification that is related to the job, and the question is being asked to determine whether the applicant meets that qualification. You can simply ask: Can you perform all the duties in the job description?
Hopefully, the list above will help you to avoid some of these questions. The point of the interview process is to get a sense of how the candidate would fit into your company culture, so don't let yourself be derailed by interrogating them on irrelevant topics. You'll only end up damaging your reputation and potentially missing out on great talent in the process.