• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

What if interviewee raises a sensitive issue?

Get PDF file
John Wilcox

by on
in Hiring,Human Resources

Every HR pro knows there are some questions you just can’t ask and topics you can’t raise during job interviews. But what if the applicant brings up an off-limits subject?

For example, if someone mentions she just had a baby, is it OK to ask if she’s made child-care arrangements? What about an applicant who says he is relocating to your town because he is following his girlfriend? Can you ask if it’s really a permanent move?

As a general rule, limit your questions to matters related to the job.

Even if the applicant introduces a topic, tread carefully in asking follow-up questions, especially if they might relate to a protected class.

In fact, you don’t need to know about child-care arrangements. Simply spell out the job’s requirements (including hours) and ask if the applicant can meet them, with or without an accommodation.

Asking whether an applicant’s move is permanent is less of an issue, since the question does not implicate a protected characteristic and the answer merely gives a sense about whether the applicant intends to stay at the company. But if you ask that type of question only of women, you could be vulnerable to a gender discrimination claim.

Leave a Comment