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Unacceptable Interview Practices

Federal and New York State laws prohibit employers from asking certain types of questions and from using non-job related information in the selection process. All questions and case analyses should be job related. Questions that are designed to directly or indirectly elicit information about a candidate's age, marital status, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity (including citizenship and national origin), derivation of name, religion affiliation or beliefs, arrest record or physical disabilities that are not related to the candidate's ability to perform the job are not permitted.

Below are some examples of illegal interview questions:


Questions Regarding Your Name:

Q. What kind of name is _______?
Q. Why did you change your name?

The above two questions are illegal to ask in an employment interview because they are trying to divulge ancestry or marital status. An employer can ask, however, what your current legal name is and whether you ever worked under a different name (to verify employment).


Questions Regarding Sex, Marital Status, and Family:

Q. Are you married/single/divorced?
Q. Do you have or plan to have children?
Q. What does your spouse do for a living?
Q. Who do you live with?

All of the above questions are illegal. All questions regarding marital status, sexual preferences and family are illegal in interview situations. An employer may legally ask if you are able and willing to travel as needed for the job or if you are willing to relocate.


Questions Regarding Age:

Q. How old are you?
Q. When were you born?

An employer cannot legally ask how old you are. They can ask, however, whether or not you are between the ages of 18 and 70, or whether you are over the age of 18. Proof of age for insurance purposes may be required after you are hired.


Questions Regarding Address/Residency:

Q. Are you a citizen?
Q. Where were you born?
Q. How long have you lived in the United States?
Q. What foreign addresses have you had?
Q. Do you rent or own your home?

All of the above questions are illegal to ask in an interview. Employers may ask whether you are authorized to work in the United States for other than practical training purposes. Employers may ask if you are hired, if can you provide proof of your eligibility to work in the United States. "Employers may ask the place and length of your current address. Any inquiry into the place of your birth, or the place of your parents/spouses/relatives birth is illegal.


Questions Regarding Religion:

Q. What is your religion?
Q. What religious holidays do you observe?

All questions regarding religion are illegal.


Questions Regarding Disabilities:

Q. Do you have any handicaps?
Q. Have you had any illnesses or operations?

Questions about physical or mental limitations that are not job-related are illegal. Employers may ask whether the individual has a mental or physical disability that would relate to his/her ability to perform the job. And if so, what duties they would be unable to perform.


Questions Regarding Arrests/Convictions:

Q. Have you ever been arrested?

Arrests without convictions do not indicate guilt. Employers may ask have you ever been convicted of a _______?
(a crime reasonably related to the performance of the job, ex: inquiries about embezzlement convictions if a position requires financial responsibilities.)

 

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