A quick Google search can provide you dozens of stories of bad job interviews. While they are quite cringe worthy, there is some information that is outright illegal to ask about during an interview. In fact, an employer can face investigations and even lawsuits for asking them. What are the qualifications? According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, anything related to:
- employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group, or individuals with disabilities, or based on myths or assumptions about an individual’s genetic information; and
- denying employment opportunities to a person because of marriage to, or association with, an individual of a particular race, religion, national origin, or an individual with a disability. Title VII also prohibits discrimination because of participation in schools or places of worship associated with a particular racial, ethnic, or religious group.
Some examples of questions you should never ask (or be asked) during an interview are:
- Are you pregnant? Asking any questions regarding a candidate being or planning on becoming pregnant is sex discrimination.
- Do you got to church on Sunday? This is an easy way for an employer to get in trouble for religious discrimination.
- How old are you? This can be construed as age discrimination even if asked in a friendly manner.
- Where are you from? This one is a bit tricky, as even if you are wondering what state a candidate is from, you can be accused of discriminating against their national origin.
- (In reference to any kind of injury/physical abnormality), What happened? An employer asking this question runs the risk of violating the ADA, or Americans with Disabilities Act.
So how frequent do EEOC claims pop up? According to their 2015 Enforcement and Litigation Data, “EEOC resolved 92,641 charges in fiscal year 2015, and secured more than $525 million for victims of discrimination in private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation.”
Interviewers should not be asking these questions under any circumstances. Employers should ensure that any of their employees tasked with interviewing are well informed or trained, to avoid any issues.