The guidelines with respect to legal and illegal screening questions are designed to comply with state and federal laws to prevent hiring prejudice with respect to race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or conviction record. However, different state laws make a difficult interview process even more complex for employers who find it hard to discern an acceptable interview question from an unacceptable one.
The danger is that certain interview questions can pose potential legal problems and may violate the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1991, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. No employer wants to face litigation as a result of inappropriate interviewing techniques; the ensuing loss of reputation can be extremely damaging. A rule of thumb for interview questions is that the employer’s interest should be focused on the candidate’s suitability for the job only, and questions that attempt to elicit information that is not relevant to the required skills are not legitimate.
A best practice for conducting safe candidate screening is to hire a professional staffing agency to screen your candidates or to consult a legal professional. Aside from that, here are some reputable articles and websites that can assist you in composing acceptable interview questions.
- Microsoft Business offers a practical and useful article that is a good guide to keep your questions relevant.
- A white paper for the Society for Human Resource Management “Guidelines on Interview and Employment Application Questions,” by Thomas Nail and Dale Scharinger provides a framework for employers to follow.
- The ADA Job Interview Checklist for Supervisors by Kenneth Pritchard of the Society for Human Resource Management is a brief but practical document for interviewers.
If you are unsure about the questions that you may or may not ask during screening or an interview it is best to consult a legal professional or a hiring consultant.
Have additional questions? Contact us today to see how we can assist you in legal and productive interviewing, screening, and background checking techniques.