What Can I Ask on a Job Application and in an Interview?

Hey everyone, it’s Paul Simon with the law firm of Simon Paschal. Welcome to another episode of Simon Paschal Says. Today, we’re going to talk about what employers can and cannot ask for in job applications. And then, also kind of best practices, as well as then what an employer can and cannot ask in an interview.

For a job application there’s just a few areas that we, generally, see employers inquire about that either they should not, or even it could be illegal. So, a few of those are whether or not an applicant is a US citizen or not. Again, the law says that you cannot inquire or discriminate based on citizenship. And so what you should be doing, as an employer, is simply asking, “Is the applicant eligible to work in the United States?”

Another area that employers can get into some issues is with disabilities and asking whether or not someone’s physically fit, or can perform certain tasks. Again, the question there should simply be, “Is the applicant able to perform the necessary job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation?”

Some other areas that employers can run into issues also is criminal background. So I think, 10, 20 years ago that was a very common question for employers to inquire about, “Have you ever been convicted or charged with a felony or misdemeanor?” The EOC has really started to crack down on that as having a disparate impact on minorities. So, that is something that you probably should not get into. And wait until after you’ve kind of gone through the application, figured out that someone that you’re interested in, and then you can go through the background check process to find out the criminal history and move on from there.

Another thing that the EOC looks unfavorably on is the question of, “Do you have any relatives that work for the company?” The EOC has kind of found out that dives into gender, or marital status, and can be a discriminatory question. So, those are kinds of things on the job application side that an employer should be mindful of.

Regarding the interview process, you can get a little bit more into some of those questions but, again, just be mindful about questions that kind of can be discriminatory. Asking about personal issues with their families. Do they have kids? Are you married? Again, those in and of themselves, there’s nothing illegal if you’re not basing your decision off of that. But, again, how many times are you not hiring someone just because they’re not a right fit? You’ve asked a number of questions that seemed to be the right fit has to do with my gender, or my age, or my sexuality you’re going to run afoul. So, just be a little bit mindful of that when you’re asking your questions.

So that’s our tip for the day. We’ll see you next time. Thank you.


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