Interviews pose tricky maneuvering when it comes to vetting a potential candidate. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of an applicant’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability. Most states also prohibit discrimination based on factors such as marital status or sexual orientation. Asking the wrong question could open you and your business up to a potential law suit. WorkSource gives insight into three questions that should never be asked in an interview.

Never Ask a Candidate’s Age

According to the Age Discrimination Employment Act, the only circumstance in which this question is allowed is if the job requires the employee to be over the age of 18 or 21. No matter the circumstance, unless the candidate will be serving alcohol, should you ask a candidate their age. Perhaps the job you’re offering requires a specific age group to be the face of the business to your customers. Or maybe you simply think a certain age group would fit in better at your workplace, it doesn’t matter. If you ask this question or attach it to, “Do you have children,” you are opening yourself up to a host of legal issues.

Never Ask a Candidate’s Political Affiliation

Believe it or not this question treads a fine line. Unless you are interviewing within a political setting where affiliation matters, no business should ask what someone’s political views or party is. Politics is an emotionally charged topic for many and it should never be brought into the workplace or define someone’s hiring status.

Never Ask About Marriage or Children

These questions apply to everyone, but they’re off-limits, as they are simply illegal to ask. Ensure that you don’t make assumptions and avoid embarrassing candidates by structuring your questions carefully. For example, instead of asking, “Are you married?” You may ask, “Have you ever earned a degree or worked under another name?” Also, instead of asking, “Do you have children or planning on having children?” You may ask, “Do you have availability to work overtime or travel if necessary?”

As with most things, you need to be aware of what is, and is not, acceptable from a legal standpoint. From there, proceed by choosing your words carefully, and to always maintain a high level of professionalism. .

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