Federal law protects both employees and job applicants from discrimination on the basis of protected statuses, e.g., race, religion, and national origin. A human resource management system Salem can help you stay in compliance, but it can only go so far. You need to be especially careful during a job interview because what might seem to you to be just friendly inquiries could be interpreted as covertly prejudicial.
1. Do You Wish To Be Addressed as Mister, Miss, Etc.?
On the surface of it, it seems reasonable and respectful to ask how an applicant would like to be addressed. It shows that you are not making any assumptions as to the applicant’s gender or marital status. However, it could be construed as discrimination on the basis of gender. In other words, you may be asking for confirmation of your prejudice. The safest course is merely to call the applicant by his or her first name, especially if this is how you usually address employees.
2. Do You Have Any Disabilities?
Do not inquire broadly about an applicant’s disabilities. If you do not hire the applicant, he or she could allege discrimination based on disabilities that have no bearing on his or her ability to do the work. Narrow the question so that it only addresses what you really need to know, e.g., “Are you able to perform the job duties?” If the applicant then volunteers information about accommodations he or she requires, that is not discriminatory on your part.
3. What Is Your Religion?
A person’s personal beliefs are irrelevant to his or her ability to work. You can ask an applicant if there are times that he or she is not able to work. Again, if he or she volunteers that it is because of religious service attendance, that is an individual choice.
If there is a bona fide job qualification, you can ask questions you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Generally speaking, do not ask for any information that is not directly relevant to the position applied for.