Job Interview Laws: “Are You Pregnant?” and Other Questions Not to Ask

When interviewing prospective hires for your business, it is critically important to consider the questions you cannot legally ask. You never want to make a candidate feel as though he or she is being discriminated against.

Here, we’ll review some of those questions that you definitely should not ask when interviewing a candidate for employment.

Are You Pregnant?

It is never appropriate to ask a candidate about her pregnancy status. This is a candidate’s business, and you must allow the candidate to decide whether or not she wishes to be forthcoming with this information.

There are strict laws around questions that can be asked in an interview – be sure you know them.

What Is Your Marital Status?

You are only allowed to inquire about a candidate’s marital status after you have hired them and need this information for tax and insurance-related purposes. You can, however, ask questions around whether a candidate (and both genders must be asked this question) can meet the requirements of the job when it comes to other time commitments and things in his or her life that might prevent the candidate from fulfilling expectations.

How Old Are You?

You never want to be seen as discriminating based on someone’s age. Never ask the question of how old a candidate is. You can, however, inquire as to whether the candidate is under 18.

What Are Your Future Plans for Having a Family?

This question is absolutely discriminatory – you cannot ask about existing family status and how many children a candidate has, nor can you inquire with regard to how many they’d like to have, and when. Also do not ask about whether or not a candidate has arrangements for childcare.

What is Your National Origin?

While you are allowed to ask whether your candidate is a U.S. citizen, that is about as far you can take the question around national origin. If your candidate answers that she is not a U.S. citizen, you are allowed to ask if she has a legal right to stay in the U.S. You may not, however, inquire as to the candidate’s birthplace, or that of his or her parents.

What Is Your Religion?

This question is not relevant in most cases, nor are questions of which religious holidays the candidate observes. There are fringe cases that apply when the employer is aligned with a religious organization – be sure you know what those are before making any related inquiries.

What Is Your Race?

Don’t ask any questions of race or color, and do not require a photo be submitted as part of a resume.

Steer clear of most personal questions in an interview.

In short, during an interview, it is best to simply steer clear of most personal questions so as to avoid accusations relating to discrimination. Questions around age, marital status, religious affiliation, and family planning should also generally be avoided.

There are absolutely some exceptions to these rules, but be certain that you know what these exceptions are before asking a question if you are indeed uncertain. Some laws also vary by state, so be sure you are clear on the specific laws pertaining to your state before you ask questions you aren’t sure can be asked.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics ranging from digital marketing strategy to reviews of baby products such as convertible car seats.

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