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Legal Guidelines Chart for Interviewing

Area of Inquiry Permissible Inquiries Inquiries That Must
Be Avoided
  • "Have you worked for this company using a different name?"
  • "Is any additional information relative to change of name or use of an assumed name or nickname necessary to enable a check on your work and educational record? If so, explain."
  • Inquires about the name that would indicate lineage, ancestry, national origin, or descent
  • "Do you prefer Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?"
Marital and Family Status
  • Whether applicant can meet specified work schedules, or has activities, commitments, or responsibilities that may hinder the meeting of work attendance requirements
  • Inquires, made to males and females alike, concerning duration of stay on job or anticipated absences
  • Any inquiry indicating whether an applicant is married, single, divorced, engaged, etc.
  • Number and age of children
  • Information on child care arrangements
  • Any questions concerning pregnancy
  • "Do you intend to get married soon?"
  • "Are you a single parent?"
  • "How many people live in your household?"
  • "Do you have someone who can take care of a sick child?"
  • "Can you travel?"
  • Any similar question that directly or indirectly results in limitation of job opportunity
  • If a minor, it may be appropriate to ask whether the applicant meets the minimum age requirements as set by the law and indication that, upon hiring, proof of age must be submitted in the form of a birth certificate or other forms of proof of age.
  • Requirement that applicant state age or date of birth
  • Requirement that applicant produce a birth certificate or baptismal record before hired
  • "How old are you?"
  • "When were you born?"
  • "When did you graduate high school? College?"
  • Employers subject to the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 may "invite" applicants to indicate how and to what extent they are disabled.
  • All applicants can be asked, "Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodation?"
  • The Rehabilitation act of 1973 forbids asking applicants about the nature and severity of their disabilities.
  • An employer must be prepared to prove that any physical and mental requirements for a job are due to business necessity and the sage performance of the job.
  • "Do you have any disabilities?"
  • "Do you have a bad back?"
  • "How often do you visit the doctor?"
  • "Have you ever been denied health insurance?"
  • "Is your hearing good?"
  • "Can you read small print?"
  • "When were you in the hospital last?"
  • Inquiry as to sex or restrictions of employment is permissible only with a BFOQ
  • Burden of proof rests on employer to prove that BFOQ does exist and that all members of the affected class are incapable of performing the job.
  • (BFOQ = Bona Fide Occupational Qualification)
  • Sex of applicant
  • Any other inquiry that would indicate sex
  • Information requested from females that is not requested from males
  • Sex does not become a BFOQ because a job involves physical labor (such as lifting) beyond the capacity of some women, nor can employment be restricted just because the job is traditionally labeled "men's work" or "women's work."
  • Sex cannot be used for determining whether an applicant will be satisfied in a particular job.
  • Questions concerning applicant's height or weight, unless you can prove that certain heights and/or weights are necessary requirements for the job to be performed
  • Sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII.
Race or Color
  • General distinguishing physical characteristics, such as scars to be used for identification purposes
  • Race may be requested, preferably not on the employment application, for affirmative action purposes, but not to be used as employment criterion.
  • Applicant's race
  • Questions about color of applicant's skin, eyes, or hair; or other questions directly or indirectly indicating race or color
Birthplace, Citizenship, Ancestry, and National Origin
  • "After employment (if employed by the University), can you submit a birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship?"
  • "If you are not a U.S. citizen, have you a legal right to remain permanently in the U.S.?"
  • "Do you intend to remain permanently in the U.S.?"
  • "If not a citizen, are you prevented from lawfully becoming employed because of visa or immigration status?"
  • Language applicant reads, speaks, or writes fluently (if another language is necessary to perform the job)
  • Birthplace of applicant, parents, spouse, or other relatives
  • Requiring a birth certificate, naturalization, or baptismal records before employment
  • Any inquiry into natural origin or citizenship of the applicant, spouse, or parents
  • "Of what country are you a citizen? What is your nationality? Are you bilingual?"
  • Whether the applicant, parents, or spouse are naturalized or native-born U.S.citizens
  • Date when applicant or parents or spouse acquired U.S. citizenship
  • Inquiries into applicant's lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, or native language
  • "What language do you speak at home?"
  • "What's the origin of your name?"
  • An applicant may be advised concerning normal hours and days of work required by the job to avoid possible conflict with religious or other personal convictions.
  • Except in cases where undue hardship can be proven, employers must make "reasonable accommodation" for religious practices of an applicant.
  • Applicant's religious denominations, affliliation, church, parish, pastor, or holidays observed
  • Telling applicant that any particular religious groups are required to work on their religious holidays
  • "Are you a member of any religious group?"
  • "What church do you belong to?"
  • "Do your children go to Sunday school?"
  • "What do you do on Sundays?/Can you work on Sundays?"
  • "Is that a Jewish-sounding last name?"
  • Any other inquiry to indicate or identify religious denomination or customs
Address and Duration of Residence
  • Applicant's address
  • Inquiry into place and length of current and previous addresses; e.g., "How long have you been a resident of [city or state]?"
  • Specific inquiry into foreign addresses that would indicate national origin
  • Names or relationships of persons with whom resides
  • Whether applicant owns or rents a home
Military Record
  • Type of education and experience in service as it relates to particular job
  • Type of discharge
  • Indicate that this may be required after hiring as identification
  • Requirement that applicant affix a photo to his or her application
  • Request that applicant, at his or her option, submit a photograph
  • Requirement of photo after interview but before hiring
  • Academic, vocational, or professional education (BFOQ)
  • Inquiry into foreign language skills, if a second language is a BFOQ
  • Asking specifically the nationality, racial affiliations, or religious affiliation of a school
  • Inquiry as to how foreign-language ability was acquired
  • Applicant's work experience, including names and addresses of previous employers, dates of employment, reasons for leaving, and salary history
  • "What other countries have you visited?"
Conviction, Arrest, and Court Record
  • Inquiry into actual convictions that relate reasonably to fitness ot perform a particular job
  • Any inquiry relating to arrests
  • Inquiry or check into a person's arrest, court, or conviction record if not substantially related to functions and responsibilities of the particular job in question
Relatives/ Emergency Contact
  • Name of applicant's relatives already employed by the University
  • Name and addresses of parent or guardian of a minor applicant
  • Name and address of persons to be notified in case of an accident or emergency
  • Name and address of any relative of an adult applicant, other that those employed by the company
  • Name and address of relatives to be notified in case of accident or emergency
  • Inquiry into the professional organizations of which an applicant is a member, providing the name or character of the organization does not reveal the race, religion, color, or ancestry of the membership
  • "What offices did you hold?"
  • "List all organizations, clubs, societies, and lodges to which you belong."
  • The names of organizations to which an applicant belongs if such information would indicate through character or name the race, religion, color, or ancestry of the membership.
  • "By whom were you referred for the position at the company?"
  • Names of professional and/or character references for applicant
  • Requiring the submission of a religious reference
  • Requesting reference from applicant's pastor or other clergy
Additional Areas to Avoid
  • Sexual orientation
  • Form of birth control
  • Bankruptcy
  • Credit cards
  • Ownership of car
  • Wage garnishments
  • Car accidents
  • Form of transportatioin to work
  • Insurance claims
  • Family plans
  • Lawsuits or legal complaints
  • Current or prior medication or treatment