What Can I Ask in an Interview?

Dustin Paschal:
Hello and welcome to Simon Paschal Says. We are back after an extended absence. Unfortunately, sometimes work gets in the way and so that’s what happened. And because our public is demanding more videos, we come back with more videos. So today you’re getting a two for one, you’re going to get a Paul Simon here and me, I’m Dustin Paschal. So we’re here, like I said, for Simon Paschal Says. And today we’re going to talk about interviewing or a what I guess you can and can’t do in a job interview. And so because we’re talking about interviewing, we thought it would be fun to do it interview style. So Paul is going to interview me about what to do

Paul Simon: Anything and everything.

Dustin Paschal: Yeah.

Paul Simon: All right Dustin. So when it comes to interviews, what laws impact what I can ask an applicant.

Dustin Paschal: So there’s not really a law that addresses per se, interviews. What we’re really talking about is under federal law, Title VII, the ADA, the Age Discrimination Employment Act, and then kind of the corresponding laws in Texas State Law. So really what we’re talking about is, they don’t want you diving into questions that are going to dig into protected categories. So you shouldn’t be asking about if an employee has a disability or what kind of genetic background they have or what kind of genetic history they have.

Dustin Paschal: Don’t dive into questions on race and age. Now what you can say is when it comes to age, are they of legal age to be able to work? And what you can ask about when you’re talking about disabilities or if there is a disability that’s open and obvious where they’ve disclosed one on a job application, you can ask about reasonable accommodations that they may need to perform their job.

Dustin Paschal: But at the end of the day, the good rule of thumb, and we’re kind of blending the law and best practices here, but the good rule of thumb is if you’re going to ask a question that’s going to implicate something that is a protected category, gender, race, age, national origin, disability, those kinds of things, then you should just avoid those questions. Those are going to get you into hot water because if it looks like you took those characteristics into consideration when making your job decision, your hiring decision, that’s when you might be slapped with a lawsuit on failure to hire based on discrimination on a protected category.

Paul Simon: Okay. And so, I mean some of the issue there is, those types of questions aren’t necessarily relevant to whether or not the person can do the job that you’re needing.

Dustin Paschal: Right? Think the job interview as going through the job description, take your job description, what you want to ask about is, are you able to perform these functions? Do you have the skill set? Do you have the educational background to perform these functions? So use the job description as your guide and that’s what you should be asking about, not who they are, what their protected category characteristics are. Now, certainly that doesn’t mean you can’t dive into some personal questions to get to know the person. But again, avoid anything that might implicate a protected category.

Paul Simon: Okay. So one thing I’ve seen before is, I think a lot of people understand that. I shouldn’t have asked these types of questions, but I’ve also heard from people who have concerns when the applicant may bring them up. So the applicant says, I’m pregnant or I’ve got a young child at home and I think that makes the interviewee concerned that, how do I respond when that’s brought up to my attention.

Dustin Paschal: I mean I think a good rule of thumb is always just to thank the applicant for telling you that, thank you for letting me know that and then add a big ole but, which is, but we don’t take that into consideration when we make job hiring decisions on this. What we’re looking at is, can you perform this job? Do you have the skill set for this job? Do you have the educational background for this job? So something along the lines of, I appreciate you letting me know that, but that’s not something we take into account and move on.

Paul Simon: That’s a good tip. So any final things you want to leave the viewers?

Dustin Paschal: At the end of the day, keep your job interviews casual, avoid those protected category questions. Again, focus on the job description and the applicant’s ability to perform those functions. And if you do that, you’re typically not going to run a foul of any legal troubles. So, all right, well there is your Simon Paschal Says for the week, we hope, unless work gets in the way again. And then maybe it’s your Simon Paschal Says for the month. But we’ll try to make it for the week. So thank you for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

Paul Simon: See you.


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