Acceptable and Unacceptable Interview Questions
Three Rules of Thumb
When asking interview questions, you should consider three rules of thumb.
- Ask only for information that you intend to use to make hiring decisions.
- Know how you will use the information to make that decision.
- Recognize that it is difficult to defend the practice of seeking information that you do not use.
Gender and Family Questions
Acceptable gender and family related questions:
Does the candidate have any relatives employed by the university?
Unacceptable gender and family related questions:
- Marital status
- Spouse’s occupation
- Number of children
- Maiden name (of married women)
Color or Race Questions
No questions may be asked in relation to race or ethnicity.
Acceptable age related questions:
Is the candidate over 18?
Unacceptable age related questions:
- Date of birth
- Date of high-school graduation
- Ages of children
Arrest Record and Conviction Questions
Disclosure of a criminal record does not automatically disqualify a candidate from employment consideration. Each case must be judged on its own merits, based on the job relatedness, nature, and severity of the conviction as well as how long ago it occurred.
Acceptable arrest and conviction related questions:
Has the candidate has ever been convicted of a crime? (If yes, you may ask for details about the conviction, however there must be a direct relationship between the job and the offense if you plan on using the conviction as a basis for denial of the position.)
Unacceptable arrest and conviction related questions:
- How many times have you been arrested?
- What kind of offenses have you been arrested for?
Acceptable religion related questions:
Whether or not candidate is able to work on the days and times required by the job.
Unacceptable religion related questions:
- Religious affiliation
- What religious holidays do you observe?
Acceptable citizenship related questions:
- Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa status?
Unacceptable citizenship related questions:
- Visa type
- In what country the candidate is a citizen?
- Is the candidate a naturalized or native-born citizen
- Are candidate’s parents or spouse are naturalized or native -born U.S. citizens
Acceptable disability related questions:
- Can the candidate perform the essential job-related functions with or without accommodations?
- Unacceptable disability related questions:
- If the candidate has a disability
- Nature or level of disability
- Past medical problems
- Recent or past surgeries and dates
Acceptable education related questions:
- Candidate’s academic, vocational, or professional education?
Name of schools candidate has attended?
Unacceptable education related questions:
There are no restrictions on educational related questions, however DO NOT ask the candidate for dates of attendance or graduation, until AFTER they are hired.
Liability and Dependability Questions:
Acceptable liability and dependability related questions:
- What was your absentee record at your prior place of employment?
- Are you available to work overtime?
- Do you know of any reason (for example, transportation, or any other reason) why you would not be able to get to work on time and on a regular basis?
Unacceptable liability and dependability related questions:
- What kind of child-care arrangements do you have?
- How do you get to work?
- Do you own a home?
- Do you have any debts?
- Do you have any loans?
- Does your spouse live with you or contribute to your support?
Career and Geographical commitment Questions
Acceptable career and geographical related questions:
- Do you intend to stay in the area
- We are looking for employees with a commitment to this position; are there any reasons why you might not stay with us?
- What are your career objectives?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Unacceptable career and geographical related questions:
- Do you plan to get married?
- Do you plan to have children?
- Is your spouse likely to be transferred?
- Is your spouse from this area?