by Naomi House
Interviewing: A Roundup of Advice on What They Can and Cannot Ask You
Recently we have been sharing lots of our own tips and advice on the interviewing process. One question that is on many interviewee’s minds is, what can they legally ask me? We have found lots of advice from around the web and through government sources and wanted to share what we have found in a short list.
- EEOC publishes laws and regulations covering employment including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You may also be interested in workplace laws not enforced by the EEOC too such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Ask A Manager says “there’s no such thing as an illegal interview question, other than questions asking about disabilities. All the other ones that people think are illegal — questions about kids, marital status, ethnicity, religion, etc. — aren’t illegal. What’s illegal is making a decision based on the answers, and so as a result, smart interviewers don’t ask them”
Often you will hear the term “illegal questions” but with the exception of Title VII it isn’t the question, but rather taking the interviewee’s answer into consideration that makes a question a bad one and potentially viable for an EEOC claim. Confused? It is confusing so many employers, not wanting the EEOC to come down on them, just don’t ask these types of questions. Many articles on this topic add a caveat that the questions aren’t illegal in the strictest sense of the word- but as a job hunter I would find that terminology misleading/confusing. And you can file a claim with the EEOC based on the outcome and if you were truly discriminated against. State (an example from Arizona here) and local governments, as well as individual institutions and workplaces may also have guidelines on what they allow interviewees to be asked that exceed the federal guidelines.
So do your research, know your comfort level and what is and is not a reasonable questions and good luck on your interview!