Employer looking at a candidate's resume during interview One of the most important things a small business owner does in hire new employees.  Hiring the right employee can mean incredible things for the business, while of course, a bad hire can be downright destructive.  It’s easy to see why interviewers want to be thorough in their interviews and really try to get to know the candidate.  Unfortunately many small business owners don’t realize they cross an important line and ask questions they should avoid.

Employment related lawsuits have been on the rise for some time now, and discrimination lawsuits involving the interview process are one of the more common and potentially costly ones.  Imagine getting a letter in the mail informing you that you are being sued by a candidate you didn’t hire based on the questions you asked.  Think it couldn’t happen?  Think again.

Here is a list of questions you should absolutely avoid asking during an interview.  While you might not use the answers to these questions as part of your hiring decision, simply asking the questions can put you at risk.

  1. How old are you?  This one might seem obvious, but gets asked more than think.  According to the EEOC “The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.”
  2. Are you married?  Not only is this none of the interviewers business, asking this question could open the business unnecessary risk.
  3. How many children do you have?  It’s natural to want to anticipate potential issues with daycare, sick children etc., but asking about this in an interview is definitely off limits!!
  4. Where are you from?  Sounds like small talk and a get to know you question but asking this could put you in hot water!  This could be mistaken for asking about ethnicity.
  5. Do you go to church?  Never, never, NEVER ask about religion in an interview!
  6. Do you have any disabilities we should be aware of?  You might ask this out of sincere concern.  You might simply want to know if you need to make accommodations for a candidate that you really like, but you should not ask this in an interview.
  7. Are you a US Citizen? You can ask if the candidate can legally work in the US, but you need to be very careful how you ask.

The interview process is critical to small business owners.  It’s important to learn as much as you can about a candidate, but it’s also important to make sure you don’t ask the wrong questions.  Even a company with great employees can be ruined by a lawsuit stemming from poor interviewing practices.

If you have questions or concerns about your current Interview Process please reach out to Genesis HR Solutions at AskUs@genesishrsolutions.com or 800-367-8367.

Genesis HR Solutions is the premier PEO provider for Massachusetts based businesses.