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December 15, 2017

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Interviewing Do's and Don'ts

Recruiting good employees is a difficult job, and if not done properly, the process can create liability for discrimination claims. Most employers are aware of the blatant discriminatory questions that you are not supposed to ask, but many get in trouble by asking apparently innocent questions in the wrong way. Here are some suggestions for both verbal interviews as well as written job applications:

SUBJECT: Name

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • Why was your name changed?
  • Whatís your maiden name?
  • What is the name of your spouse, children, parents?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Have you ever used any other names so that we may conduct the appropriate background checks?
  • If you are a minor, please provide the name and address of your parents or guardian.

SUBJECT: Birthplace

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • Where were you (your spouse, parents) born?
  • Can you provide a birth certificate or naturalization papers?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Where do you reside?
  • How long have you lived in the city where our company is located?

SUBJECT: Creed and Religion

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • What church, parish, synagogue do you attend?
  • Will any of your religious beliefs prevent you from working on certain days?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Here are the regular work days and hours for the job position in question as well as a list of holidays which our company observes and any other time-off policies...

SUBJECT: Race or Color

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your race?
  • What is the color of your skin, eyes, hair, etc.?
  • What is your height, weight?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Unless there is a bona fide occupational requirement, do not ask these questions.

SUBJECT: Age

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your date of birth?
  • What is your age?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Employment with our company is subject to verification that you meet the legal age requirement.
  • If hired, can you furnish proof of age?
  • Are you over 18 years of age?
  • If under 18, can you submit a work permit once employed?
  • If under the age of ___, you may not qualify for participation in our retirement plan.

SUBJECT: Education

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • When did you receive your degree, diploma?
  • What were the dates of attendance of high school, college, etc.?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Please list the schools you have attended and degrees, diplomas received.

SUBJECT: Citizenship

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • Are you or do you intend to become a citizen of the United States?
  • Can you produce naturalization papers or a green card?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Once hired, can you furnish verification of your legal right to work in the United States?

SUBJECT: Natural Origin & Ancestry

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, parentage, nationality?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Donít discuss this topic, even if itís apparent from the personís physical appearance, speech, etc.

SUBJECT: Language

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What language do you speak at home?
  • What is your mother tongue?
  • How did you learn to speak Spanish, French, etc.?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Which languages do you speak, read, understand that may be relevant to this job?

SUBJECT: Relatives

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is the name and/or address of a relative we may contact as a reference or in case of an emergency?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • What is the name and/or address of a person we may contact as a reference or in case of an emergency?
  • What are the names and job positions of any relatives that currently work for our company?

SUBJECT: Military Experience

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • Have you served in any military other than the U.S. Armed Forces?
  • Are you a member of the National Guard or the Reserves?
  • What is your draft classification?
  • Are you eligible for military service?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Do you have any experience in the U.S. Armed Forces? What relevant skills have you acquired?
  • Was your separation from military service for reasons other than an honorable discharge?
  • Have you received any notice to report for duty in the U.S. Armed Forces?

SUBJECT: Sex and Marital Status

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your sex?
  • What is your marital status?
  • How many dependents do you have?
  • Have you made provisions for child care?
  • Are you pregnant, when do you plan on having children?
  • With whom do you live?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Our company pays for medical insurance for employees only. Anyone with dependents may cover those individuals by paying the additional premium cost.
  • Here are the regular work days and hours for the job position in question. Are you able to work at those times on a regulr basis?

SUBJECT: Arrest Record

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • Do you have an arrest or conviction record?
  • Do you have any misdemeanor convictions for possession of marijuana that are more than tow years old?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? Have you had any such charges brought against you that were later reduced, dismissed, or not adjudicated due to pre-trial intervention? (YES answers may be relevant if job-related, but do not necessarily bar you from employment).

SUBJECT:Disability or Physical/Mental Condition

HOW NOT TO ASK:

  • What is your general medical condition?
  • Do you have any physical or mental disabilities?
  • Have you ever filed for workersí compensation?

AN ACCEPTABLE WAY TO ASK:

  • Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job?
  • If the applicant voluntarily discloses a disability, you may then ask,
  • Can you perform the essential functions of this job with reasonable accommodation?
  • Employment with our company will be contingent upon passing a job-related physical exam.

-Lauraine Bifulco

Lauraine is a veteran HR executive and entrepreneur with over 15 years of corporate and consulting experience in a variety of industries. Lauraine started Vantaggio HR, ltd. in 1991, which provides HR and management consulting services to a wide variety of companies, including publicly traded as well as privately held corporations, retail and wholesale businesses, front-line production facilities, and entrepreneurial start-ups in California and in several other states. Lauraine frequently conducts seminars on HR topics with an emphasis on employment law compliance. She is a coach with ProActive Leadership, a board member of several business networking organizations, and member of PIHRA. Lauraine received her B.A. from Wellesley College and conducted graduate level studies in linguistics at the Sorbonne in Paris.

www.vantaggiohr.com