job interview questions not to askIn 2010, we posted several blog articles on best practices for interviewing job candidates including… 10 Illegal Job Interview Questions, A Guide to the Most Effective Job Interview Questions and How NOT to Discriminate During a Job Interview.  Many of you that completed our blog survey last year asked us to continue writing about HR related subjects.  The hiring process remains a hot topic for many companies that don’t have a dedicated human resource department. 

This posting will begin a three-part series on Tuesdays that focuses on interview do’s and don’ts… including additional discriminatory questions you shouldn’t ask a candidate during a job interview, as well as tips on acceptable alternative questions.  We’ll also share with you questions that rarely or never have acceptable alternatives which should be avoided altogether.

During a job interview, you should only ask questions which relate to the job the candidate is applying for.  It is illegal to not hire job candidates because of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, birthplace, age, disability, genetic information and military service.

Job Interview Questions Not to Ask… Along with Acceptable Alternatives

Inappropriate Questions:  Are you married?  What is your maiden name?  
Acceptable Alternative:  Have you ever worked or been educated under a different name?
NOTE:  This question is allowable only if the information is needed to verify the applicant’s qualifications.

Inappropriate Questions:  Where were you born?  Where were your parents born?  How long has your family been in the U.S.?  That’s an unusual name - what does it mean?
Acceptable Alternative:  Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
NOTE:  Both Title VII and the law in most states prohibits discrimination based upon national origin.  You cannot ask any question that is related to an applicant’s ethnic, racial, or national origin.

Inappropriate Questions:  How long have you been at your current address?  Do you own, rent or live with relatives?
Acceptable Alternative:  What is your current address and phone number?  Do you have an alternative address and/or phone number where you can be reached?
NOTE:  Any question regarding a foreign address might be considered discriminatory.

Inappropriate Questions:  What is your native language?  How did you learn to speak Chinese, Spanish, German, French, etc.? (or any other language they may be fluent in)
Acceptable Alternative:  What languages can you read, speak or write?
NOTE:  Any question regarding a foreign address might be considered discriminatory.

Look for Next Tuesday’s Article… 12 Job Interview Questions to Avoid… Which is Part 2 of our Series on Interview Do’s and Don’ts