a man in a suit touching/selecting an image of one face among many You have compiled your list of candidates for an open position and now it’s time to start the interview process. You are anxious to get to know each candidate, their experience and whether they would be the right fit for the job. But before you start drafting a list of questions, you might want to consider the most important one of all: “Should I really ask this?” If you plan on asking questions about a candidate’s salary history, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other sensitive topics, the answer is a definite “NO”! Here are some examples of interview questions you might not realize are illegal or can quickly go into illegal territory:

  • What did you earn in your last job? In an increasing number of states and municipalities (including Montgomery County, MD), it’s illegal to ask candidates about their salary history. The purpose is to stop pay discrimination and offer a fair salary based on the role and the job seeker’s qualifications.
  • Are You Married? When do plan to have children? It may seem like you’re only making pleasant conversation, but any questions that dive into a candidate’s family plans is technically illegal and falls under pregnancy discrimination.
  • When Did You Graduate? This is a not-so-subtle way to calculate a candidate’s age and can quickly lead the conversation into illegal territory.
  • How’s Your Health? For physically demanding jobs, it’s okay to ask about specific physical abilities (ie – standing on your feet for hours at a time, heavy lifting, etc). But anything that isn’t directly related to tasks performed on the job should never be questioned. This includes asking a question such as, “Did you take any sick days or extended medical leave last year?”
  • What Country Are You From? As long as a candidate is authorized to work in the country where the job is located, employers can’t dig deeper into which country a candidate may be from or if English is his/her first language. Nationality discrimination is illegal.
  • Have You Ever Been Arrested? Many states have adopted laws or policies that impact what employers can ask job candidates about their criminal history prior to evaluating their qualifications. Contemporaries can help you with the proper questions to ask in this situation.

Regulations regarding certain interview questions are continually changing in the Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia region and it can be hard to keep up. Contemporaries always stays up to date on new laws and legal interpretation of existing laws, so you can feel confident that all interviews adhere to fair hiring practices. By working with our temp agency, your business avoids liability since we take care of the entire process for you. Call Contemporaries at 301-565-0445 to learn more.