Finance News & Insights

5 illegal screening questions everybody asks

How many of these have you asked when searching for just the right staff for Finance?

It’s tough enough to find and land the perfect person for your finance department. But the headaches that resume scouring cause are nothing compared to the headache of being sued for discrimination.

Here are five questions to strike from your to-ask list, pronto:

  1. “What year did you graduate?” Easy to fall into — a candidate went to the same high school you did. Naturally you’re curious. But you just backed yourself into the age question. You know you can never come out and say “How old are you?” or “Really, you have grandchildren?” but anything that would lead the interviewee to disclose that number on his or her driver’s license is a potential minefield.
  2. “Are you married?” Again, may sound like pleasant conversation. But it’s a slippery slope. Say you’re  interviewing a 20-something woman. That innocuous question can lead to asking about starting a family … and claims of pregnancy discrimination.  Steer clear.
  3. “How far would your commute be?”  You can’t pick and choose based on who’s “geographically desirable.” If anything, ask whether an 8 am workday start is doable. 
  4. “Are you comfortable supervising men/women?”  A legitimate concern? Sure. But you’d have better luck asking about the teams this person has supervised in the past to get an inkling how they fare telling the opposite sex what to do.
  5. “Do you smoke?”  Even if your company is taking a hard line against smokers — and many are — you probably shouldn’t ask this directly. You can ask whether the candidate has ever been disciplined for violating company anti-tobacco policies.
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