Interview for Success and Avoid the Legal Pitfalls

Feb 03, 2015

Interview for Success and Avoid the Legal Pitfalls

There are many things to avoid and abide by when following pre-employment best practices. Four possible dangers when interviewing are asking improper interview questions, making statements of discrimination, making binding contract statements, and allowing personal biases to cloud your judgment.

Below are examples of questions that may be alleged to show illegal bias and should be avoided in all interviews. It is very simple to make a mistake if not prepared and be charged with a lawsuit. To avoid this, be prepared and know what you can and cannot ask in interviews.


  • Are you a U.S. citizen? This question on citizenship can adversely impact their national origin.

Physical or Mental Handicaps

  • Do you have a visual, speech, or hearing disability?
  • Have you ever filed a workers compensation claim?
  • How many days of work did you miss last year due to illness?

Marital/Dependent Status

  • Are you planning to have a family? When?
  • Do you have children? How old are they?


  • What off-the-job activities do you participate in?


  • Would you have a problem working with a female partner?

Place of Origin/Birthplace

  • Where were you born?
  • Where did you grow up?


  • What year did you graduate from high school? This question can reveal age.


  • What is your religion?
  • What religious holidays do you normally observe?

Military Service

  • What type of discharge did you receive from your military service?

Prior Criminal Record

  • Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime? You can only inquire about previous criminal convictions legally.


  • Would you like to be called Miss, Mrs., or Ms.? This would denote marital status.

All of these questions may seem simple and harmless but can easily violate one of the four mentioned dangers when conducting interviews. ZERORISK HR offers training workshops on behavioral interview programs as a guide for your company. This training provided will implement effective interview strategies, identify the best questions to use, perfect probing techniques, decrease your exposure to employment practices liability and train inexperienced interviewers to name a few. For more information on providing this training to your organization, click here.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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