Of course you know pretty quickly when a job applicant answers a question wrong. But do you know when the people doing the interviewing step out of bounds?
More importantly, do they?
They might not. In fact, 20% of hiring managers said they’d asked a candidate a question they later discovered was illegal!
That’s the finding of an eye-opening Careerbuilder survey.
It’s more than just awkward. If one of your supervisors asks an illegal question, you company could find itself facing costly legal claims.
So just how confident are you that everyone interviewing candidates at your company know what’s OK and what’s not?
Put these on the do-not-ask list
It’s well-worth going through this list. One in three employers admitted they weren’t sure whether the following questions were legal to ask (they’re not):
- What’s your religious affiliation?
- Are you pregnant?
- What’s your political affiliation?
- What’s your race, color or ethnicity?
- How old are you?
- Are you disabled?
- Are you married?
- Do you have children or do you plan to?
- Are you in debt?
- Do you socially drink or smoke?
Not only do you want to reinforce this with your newer supervisors, but be sure to hit this list with your vets, too. They might have slipped into some risky interview habits over time.
Of course it’s not just asking these point-blank that spells trouble.
Some of these topics may come up in casual conversation either at the beginning of the interview as an ice breaker or at the end once the two parties have gotten comfortable. You have to urge interviewers to be extra aware of that.
Watching the grayer areas
Then there are some questions that might be OK to ask … depending how you ask them.
So for example, you can ask a prospective Finance staffer about his or her long-tern career goals, but you can’t ask when he or she plans to retire.
Another tricky topic: where folks live. Yes, managers can delve into whether or not a person is open to the idea of relocation. But coming right out and asking where someone lives can give rise to claims of discrimination based on location.
Again, it’s easy to tread on that topic when making small talk. But if asked the wrong way, it could land your company in big trouble.
Protecting your company and finding the best fits
So how do you navigate this minefield? Raising awareness is the best way. You don’t want your managers so paralyzed by what they can and can’t say that they’re not focused on whether the best new hire is sitting across the desk from them.
A little awareness can go a long way here. As the CareerBuilder survey showed, there’s a lot of uncertainty floating about these days. Think about giving anyone with interview authority the list of do-not-ask questions.
Another option: some mock interview exercises, where you and HR can help managers see where they might be treading into dangerous territory.