From Our Table to Yours: Interview Tips for Hiring Managers

This week we take time to reflect and give thanks, and we pray certain subjects don’t come up at the Thanksgiving dinner table. When Aunt Martha asks improper questions about your love life as she passes the mashed potatoes, you can laugh it off, saying she doesn’t know any better. Or, when someone asks who you voted for in the last election, you can quickly excuse yourself and head for the restroom. But, when an inappropriate question comes up at a job interview there’s no escape and it’s no laughing matter. Even seasoned interviewers can make a mistake. So, in the spirit of giving, we offer this refresher for all.

Anyone who interviews candidates should know the laws, even if their company doesn’t offer official interview training. CareerOnestop, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, says the following subjects are discriminatory and illegal:

  • Age
  • Race or nationality
  • Pregnancy (planned or existing)
  • Disabilities
  • Family and marital status
  • Household situation
  • Spouse’s occupation
  • Religion or church attendance
  • Arrest record

Others include political affiliation, whether a candidate smokes or uses drugs and where they live.

Employment resource adds education, driver’s license, financial status, union affiliation and military status to the list of topics that could cross the line, depending on how a question is asked. Take these, for example:

  • Education:
    • Okay: You can ask about education and certificates if they’re required for the position.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask about a high school diploma for entry-level positions.
  • Military Status:
    • Okay: You can ask if someone is a veteran or if they have experience in the military.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask about discharge status or which branch they served in.
  • Financial Status:
    • Okay: You can ask for financial information for benefits and 401(k) after the applicant is hired.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask about financial status, bankruptcy, wage attachments or outstanding loans.
  • Disability:
    • Okay: You can ask if someone can perform the duties of the job with reasonable accommodation.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask if they have a disability.
  • Location:
    • Okay: You can ask where someone is will to commute.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask where someone lives.
  • Citizenship:
    • Okay: You can ask whether someone is a U.S. citizen or legally eligible to work in the U.S.
    • NOT Okay: You cannot ask about an applicant’s heritage nor can you ask how long they are eligible to work in the U.S.

If you are unsure about a topic or about a specific question it’s best to err on the side of caution and contact your Human Resources department for guidance.

We can’t save you from Aunt Martha but we can help you ask the right questions when looking for your next hire. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you find professional marketing and creative talent, please contact us.


by McKinley Marketing Partners