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Don’t Make These Unforced Hiring Errors

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Any questions that go beyond determining job qualifications are irrelevant and out-of-bounds.

Right now, the economy is booming, and employment numbers are skyrocketing, so chances are you’ll be hiring at some point in the near future. While you’re looking forward to bringing on new staff and your candidates are trying to impress you with their credentials, there are interview topics you must stay away from.little girl in costume

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), any questions that go beyond determining job qualifications are irrelevant and out-of-bounds.

That means that however curious you might be about a prospective employee’s age, ethnicity, marital status, religion, or other non-job related personal questions, you can’t ask them.

Here are some questions you should never even consider asking:

Are you married?

While it may be an okay question in a social setting, asking about a candidate’s marital status or plans regarding children is illegal and discriminatory. It is also might be construed as asking about sexual orientation, which is a protected class.

Whatever questions you ask must be job related. For example: “This position requires you to work nights and weekends, is that something that will be a problem?” is a perfectly legitimate line of inquiry.

Similar questions to get the same information:

  • What does your wife/husband do for a living?
  • How old are your kids?
  • How do you handle day care?

Where do you go to church?

Unless you’re hiring for a faith-based organization like a church or synagogue, any question having to do with religion is inappropriate.

Similar questions to get the same information:

  • What holidays do you celebrate?
  • What do you like to do on Sunday?

When did you graduate from high school?

Virtually every employer is aware that you risk a charge of age discrimination if you ask a job candidate his or her age. Asking when he or she graduated from high school is the same thing—just do the math and add 18.

Similar questions to get the same information:

  • When did you get your degree?
  • How soon do you plan to retire?
  • Will the age difference between you and the other members of your team be a problem?

Where are you originally from?

An applicant’s country of origin is unconnected to his or her ability to do a specific job. The question that you can ask is whether the candidate is legally allowed to work in the United States.

Similar questions to get the same information:

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Where did you grow up?

Bottom line: Stay away from any question that identifies the candidate in any way other than by his or her ability and experience to do the job you’re trying to fill. A complaint to the EEOC is something every employer should avoid.

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