Conducting job interviews is one of the most legally dangerous tasks performed by managers.
One misguided question could cause an applicant to think he or she was rejected due to one of the federally protected categories (race, gender, disability, age, national origin, religion or pregnancy status). That’s why every question should relate to this central theme: “How are you qualified to perform the job you are applying for?”
Take this hiring quiz to see if you know which questions are legal and which are not:
1. A female applicant explains the time gap in her employment history by saying that she took time off to raise her two children. Your next question is:
a) How old are your children now?
b) What child care arrangements have you made?
c) You might be asked to work later than 5 p.m. on occasion. Would you be able to meet that requirement?
d) What happens when your kids are sick?
2. An older job applicant is very overweight. The job requires lifting heavy boxes and you wonder how he’s going to do it without having a heart attack. You say:
a) Do you have any health problems?
b) When was your last physical?
c) This job requires lifting 60-lb. boxes onto a three-foot platform for the entire shift. Can you handle that?
d) Would you be willing to take a physical with the company doctor? All new employees are required to pass it.
3. You notice an engagement ring on a female candidate for a sales rep position. You wonder if she’d be comfortable traveling on the road with the male sales team. You ask:
a) Do you have any reservations about traveling with the other sales reps? You’d be the only woman.
b) Do you think your husband’s going to object if you have to stay overnight?
c) You may have to stay overnight when traveling with the rest of the sales force. Would that bother you at all?
d) This job requires a lot of overnight travel. Will that cause problems at home?
4 . It’s illegal to ask applicants to describe what information about themselves on an application form:
a) Height & weight
b) Skin color
c) Eye/hair color
d) Scars/identifying marks
5. When should you ask an applicant to supply the name of a person to be contacted in case of emergency?
a) After the person has officially been hired.
b) During the job interview.
c) On the application form.
d) When the new employee first reports for work.
6. You can ask about an applicant’s religious affiliations when:
a) He tells you about his experience as financial director of his church.
b) Her résumé lists membership in religious organizations.
c) The applicant names a pastor as a reference on the application.
d) None of the above.
See answers in box below.