The savvy business owner knows that every job interview contains a few legal landmines they need to step around. Sometimes, though, even the best can stumble onto a dangerous question, putting their proverbial foot in their mouth by asking a seemingly innocuous question that could in fact land the company in legal hot water.
Here is how to conduct the perfect interview:
Never ask a woman (or man) their age. Even something as innocent as commenting on a person’s youthful appearance relative to their level of experience can pose problems. Age discrimination is a big issue these days, especially given the number of people over 40 seeking employment. Steer clear of anything age-related.
A real “nowhere man”. By asking a candidate where they were born or what citizenship status they hold, you could accidentally imply discrimination on the basis of national origin. Instead, stick simply to what is required by law: Does the potential employee have the right to work in the U.S. and, if so, can they provide verification?
Refrain from the religious. You know you can’t discriminate on the basis of religious belief, but how do you find out if religious holidays will interfere with the job? Be sure to detail what scheduling expectations you may have and inquire about the candidate’s flexibility to work under these terms.
Keeping it out of the family. Asking about marital status or any plans to have children is off the table. And what if the person’s marriage is to someone of the same sex? A growing number of states prohibit companies from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor that invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, this form of discrimination is likely to become a federal issue sooner than later.
Avoid health-related queries. Avoid any inquiry into the health of the candidate, as employers are barred from discrimination against potential employees with a disability. Any doubt about their ability to perform should be addressed by asking after his or her ability to perform certain job functions.
If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to schedule a business consultation session.
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