Diversity in the workplace is a good thing. When interviewing, you obviously need someone who fits the requirements of the job, but you have to be careful with the interview questions you ask so as not to approach any topics which could potentially lead to discriminatory behavior. Something which you might think is an innocent interview question to get to know someone could potentially approach a subject which is taboo. There are interview questions that employers and human resource professionals should definitely avoid.
Here are some interview questions you should avoid:
- Do you have any children? How many children do you have? Are your children in child care?
- Are you married?
- How old are you?
- What type of discharge did you receive from the military?
- What church do you belong to? What is your religion?
- Do you have any medical conditions we should know about?
- How many sick days did you use last year?
The gray area is the most difficult to deal with. You are asking the interview questions as part of a more casual conversation in the job applicant, but a potential answer that could be given could take things in a direction that could lead to a claim of discrimination.
“What’s your favorite book?” sounds like an innocent interview question but if they answer that they read the Bible or Koran every night, there is the potential for a discrimination claim if they didn’t get the job.
“What associations do you belong to?” is a similar question. If they answer something about the JCC or the Knights of Columbus, or even AARP or some cancer survivor organization, you’re just asking for trouble.
Stay away from interview questions that are associated with race, gender, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability, among many other topics. There are certain federal laws that protect employees and job applicants from being discriminated against. These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If all the all the questions are not directly related to the applicant’s ability to do the job, they are most likely, not appropriate as interview questions.