When considering a prospective employee for your business, it is important to hire the right person for the right job, right? There are certain questions, however, that could trip you up during the interview process, inviting possible litigation regarding discrimination.

In general, don’t ask about these things (it’s illegal!):

– Marital status

– Sexual orientation and gender identity

– Religion

– Disability

– Race, ethnicity, or national origin

– Age

Touching on these subjects in an interview could lead to potential lawsuits regarding discrimination based off of these qualities if a person is not hired. It is better to stay away from sensitive and personal subjects, and to focus strictly on the particular skills, proficiencies, and certifications the candidate holds that proves whether or not they will be a good fit for the job.

In your interview, structure your questions around the objective qualities that you are seeking in the position. Create a structure of questioning that is standard for all candidates. While it is good to build rapport with a potential candidate, if the conversation veers towards potentially touchy topics, go back to your questionnaire rubric and stay on track. Using tactful and objective questions, you can still navigate your way through an interview and determine whether or not the interviewee will be best qualified for the job.

Better Ways to Ask

Below are some examples of questions not to ask, as well as alternative questions you can ask in an interview that will help you avoid discrimination pitfalls:

Don’t ask: “What are you childcare arrangements?”

Ask instead: “What is your availability like? Are you available on short notice?”

Don’t ask: “Are you married? Planning on starting a family soon?”

Ask instead: What are your long-term career goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Don’t ask: “Do you have any medical conditions that would inhibit your ability to fulfill job requirements?”

Ask instead: “Will you be able to perform the essential requirements of this position with reasonable accommodation?”

Don’t ask: “What is your native language?”

Ask instead: “What languages are you proficient in?”

A New No-No: “What is your current salary?”

New legislation have made this interview question illegal in several states and cities, including California. These laws have been made in an effort to mitigate pay inequality issues for women and minorities. The idea is that compensation will no longer based upon previous income standards, but rather on what value a candidate can offer to the position based on specific skills, certifications, and experience they bring to the table.

There are still ways to talk about the sticky issue of money. Change the layout of the question and put the ball in their court: “What is your expectation for compensation for this role?” This can open conversation regarding pay without risking legal problems regarding this topic.

If you are still have questions about the legal implications of interview questions, let us help you create the best questions that will help you acquire the most qualified candidate for your position.