As the economy slowly recovers, many Arizona businesses are looking to add to their workforce. While it may be tempting to tailor interview questions to help “weed out” unqualified candidates, be sure you are not setting your company up for potential discrimination claims. Interview questions should be related to the job for which the candidate is being hired, not a means to gather personal information. Below are examples of questions you should avoid:
1. Are you a U.S. citizen?
Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating based on citizenship status. To work in the United States, applicants do not need to be U.S. citizens; they only need to be authorized to work in the United States. Be sure this question is worded correctly to avoid potential issues.
2. How long do you plan to work before retiring?
Employers may not discriminate based on age. Candidates may see this question as an alternative way to ask how old they are.
3. What is your native language?
Employers may not discriminate based on national origin. Even asking because you are “curious about the interesting accent” may be construed by an unsuccessful applicant as discrimination and used against the employer.
4. Which religious holidays will you want off?
Employers may not discriminate based on religion.
5. Do you have or plan to have children?
Employers may not discriminate based on gender or pregnancy. This particular question can be argued to be disproportionately adverse toward women. Again, keep the questions focused on job responsibilities, not on personal information.
6. Have you ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?
Employers may not discriminate based on disabilities. Do not include medical-related questions prior to extending an offer.
7. Have you had a recent illnesses or operation?
As stated above, employers may not discriminate based on disabilities. Avoid all medical-related questions during the interview.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid questions potentially related to race, gender, religion, marital status, age, disabilities and ethnic background. The best plan of action is to tailor interview questions to reflect the skills and experience required for the position. When in doubt, call your attorney.