The hiring process can be challenging. The process of advertising a job posting, filtering resumes, conducting interviews, hiring your new employee, and signing the Employment Contract is often lengthy. However, the process is worth it to find the right candidate.
Figuring out whether someone is a good fit with your company might be the most difficult part of the hiring process. You need to ask the right questions to determine if they are qualified, but you also have to be wary of asking the wrong questions.
Asking your potential or existing employees the wrong questions can cause you a lot of problems. For example, you could face possible legal action. Also, you could miss out on future candidates who will avoid working for your business because of your reputation.
Here are some of the questions that you need to watch out for, whether you are conducting an interview or speaking to one of your current employees.
1) When did you graduate?
Since you aren’t allowed to ask any questions that could reveal the age of the employee, you cannot ask when someone graduated from high school or university.
Instead, ask about the person’s job experience and how it pertains to the their job position.
2) Is this your married name?
You can’t ask any questions about the individual’s marital status. That means you can’t ask if they have a maiden name. Also, you cannot ask for their title (for example, asking if they go by Mrs., Miss, or Ms.).
You also can’t ask about a person’s spouse, even if they tell you that they have one. Refrain from asking what a person’s spouse does or any other questions about their relationship.
However, you can ask if someone has previously worked for the company under a different name.
3) Do you participate in any groups outside of work?
You should avoid this question, and let the employee or applicant discuss this topic on their own terms. This question could encourage someone to talk about their religious or political beliefs. As an employer, you are not allowed to ask this because it can lead to workplace discrimination.
Many employers want to ask this question to make sure that an employee won’t miss time at work to attend certain events. So instead, ask if the person can meet the job’s schedule requirements.
4) Do you have any kids?
Questions about existing children, future children, and anything related to pregnancy should be avoided. You can’t ask if someone would return to work after maternity leave, or if someone plans to have children.
Although this is obviously an issue that is more directed at women, it’s still important to remember not to ask about paternity leave or children when speaking with a male either.
5) How tall are you, about 6’5?
It doesn’t matter if it’s conversational or during an interview, avoid questions that reveal someone’s weight or height. All you need to know is if they believe that they could perform the required tasks efficiently.
Give them a detailed overview of the requirements and ask them if they think that they can meet them.
However, some positions require employees capable of lifting a certain weight. In these circumstances, it is appropriate for you to ask if they are able to do so.
6) Do you smoke or drink?
There are very few substance-related questions that you can ask an employee. You can ask if an employee has ever been reprimanded for violating any tobacco of alcohol use rules while on the job.
Also, you can ask if they take illegal drugs. However, you can’t ask if they take drugs. This stipulation is because it is not necessary for you to know about personal prescriptions.
7) What an interesting accent! Where are you from?
This question is not allowed because you can’t ask any questions in relation to an employee’s ethnicity. Therefore, you can’t ask where someone’s parents are from. Also, you can’t ask where someone learned a second language, unless bilingualism is required for the job.
Avoid asking about the origin of someone’s name. This type of question could be perceived as trying to determine someone’s ethnicity or where they are from.
8) Where did you drive in from?
As an employer, you may prefer someone who lives close to work. Therefore, you might want to ask about where a candidate or employee lives. However, you can’t ask about the length of someone’s commute or where they live in the city.
Instead, just ask if they can work during the required hours.
9) How’s your credit score?
Avoid questions about credit scores, bankruptcy, and other personal finances.
You can require credit checks as part of an application process, but this is generally a one-time event that takes place after the interview. Also, the employee must give consent.
10) Have you ever been arrested?
You can’t ask about arrests because being arrested doesn’t mean that someone was involved in a crime. Anyone can be mistakenly arrested.
You can ask if someone has been convicted, but you have to be specific about the conviction (fraud, theft, etc.).
11) Do you live with your spouse?
Questions about an employee’s living situation are prohibited. Since each person’s personal living situation is different, use general terms and don’t make assumptions about someone’s family life.
Also, you are not allowed to put “closest relative to contact in case of emergency” on emergency contact forms. You must avoid using the word “relative” as it assumes that someone has close family members.
12) What are you going to the doctor for?
As an employer, you are not allowed to ask about an individual’s past or present personal health, including operations, hospital visits, or doctor’s appointments.
You also need to avoid any questions about mental health, disabilities, and anything else related to the mental and physical status of the employee.
Don’t ask about sick days, either. It’s inappropriate for you to ask how many sick days a person took at their last job. You can, however, ask how many days they missed from work last year.
13) Could a man do this job? We’ve always had a woman.
Questions about gender are prohibited. This includes assuming the individual’s gender. It is also best to avoid asking if they can work with or supervise the opposite gender. Furthermore, you shouldn’t question if a certain gender could perform the job tasks as efficiently as another.
14) Were you dishonorably discharged from the military?
You must avoid questions about an individual’s current enrollment in either the National Guard or the Reserves.
15) Can I get your Facebook password?
This was an issue that became heated in 2012 but has since cooled. Many states don’t allow potential or current employers from requesting personal social media logins from interviewees and employees.
Asking the Wrong Questions
At times, some of the questions that are prohibited are allowed. If you can prove that a question directly relates to the job and that the answer would affect the person’s ability to perform the tasks, you may be allowed to ask certain questions.
An example would be if you were a seniors clothing business recruiting senior models. Because your business specifically requires senior models to sell your product, it would not be considered ageism. If it were a women’s store, you could request females models, and if it were a men’s store, you could request male models.
When you ask an employee an inappropriate question they are not required to answer it. They may feel obligated to and answer it anyway, but you cannot let their answer effect how you treat them as a person or as an employee.
If you do ask an inappropriate question, and an employee feels as if their rights have been violated, you could face a discrimination charge as well as a lawsuit. Aside from the legal repercussions, you also face having a negative reputation. Today, with information so easily accessible through the internet, news spreads fast, and even a local business can be internationally showcased in a negative light from bad behavior.
Be aware of your state’s laws surrounding employment discrimination. Avoid personal questions and focus on ones that pertain to the job.
Treating your employees fairly and asking the questions that relate to job experience, education, skills, and other relevant areas will help you to find a good employee without getting you into trouble. Be respectful, thoughtful, and remember that although employees may need their jobs, you need them as well.