Interview Questions: Don’t Cross the Line

May 10, 2016

Interview Questions

When interviewing a new candidate, hiring managers must be aware of the legal implications that come as a part of the hiring process. In an attempt to build friendly rapport throughout an interview, it's easy to stray across the line of discriminatory and illegal questions. Hiring managers may believe they are just making conversation but could be leaving the company open to a lawsuit. A few guidelines can keep any manager safe from litigation throughout the hiring process.

Below are examples of questions that should be avoided.

  • Place of birth, ethnicity, or religion
    • "Where did you grow up?"
    • "Where were you born?"
    • "What religion do you practice?"
  • Marital status/sexual preference
    • "Are you planning to have a family? When?"
    • "Do you have children?"
  • Gender/age
    • "Would you have an issue working with a female partner?"
    • "We've always had a woman/man in this role. How do you think you'll handle it?"
    • "How much longer before you plan to retire?"
  • Disability or illness
    • "Have you ever filed a workers compensation claim?"
    • "How many days of work did you miss last year due to illness?"
  • Lifestyle
    • "Have you ever been arrested or charged with a crime?" Must only inquire about previous criminal convictions.
    • "What off-the-job activities do you participate in?"
  • Military service
    • "What type of discharge did you receive from your military service?"

There are four defined potential dangers throughout the interviewing process. Firstly is asking improper questions. Next can be the possibility of making discriminatory statements or making binding contract statements. Lastly is the danger of allowing personal biases to cloud your judgment. Avoiding these dangerous questions in interviews are important because they may be alleged to show an illegal bias. Although these questions may seem simple or even nonthreatening, they can easily violate one of the dangers when conducting an interview. Reframing the questions to understand the candidate and how they can be of benefit to the company, rather than asking for information about their personal life, will help managers hire consistently and legally.

The ZR Profile objectively measures how a person thinks, which can answer many typical interview questions without the candidate engaging in self-analysis. Another way to implement a safe interview for a possible new hire is objectively measuring how the person values things, people, and himself or herself. Using the study of axiology, the ZERORISK Hiring System can create a candidate profile and behavioral interview guide—ultimately allowing you and your hiring team to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit.

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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