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Recognizing Illegal Interview Questions

During an interview, you should expect to be asked about your industry experience and the qualities that make you a strong candidate for the role. You should not expect to be asked questions about your personal life, your past, or your personal views. These questions can be used to discriminate against a candidate unfairly, which is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, one of the United States' most prominent employment laws.

What is the Question Really Asking?

A simple way to determine if an interview question is legal for your interviewer to ask is to determine what the question is really asking. For example:

  • "How old are your children?" is a way to ask a candidate if he or she has children, which can sway the interviewer's opinion out of a concern that the candidate would need a lot of time off to care for the children. If the candidate says he or she does not have children, this question may be followed by asking if or when he or she plans to start a family, another illegal question;
  • "Where were you born?" can be an assumption that a candidate is an immigrant or a child of immigrants. Similar questions include queries about a candidate's last name, accent, or languages spoken;
  • "When did you graduate?" is a question that can be used to determine a candidate's age; and
  • "Which holidays do you celebrate?" could be a way to ask about a candidate's ethnicity or religion.

Other illegal questions include questions about a candidate's health or relationship status.

Handling Illegal Interview Questions When you Face Them

If you are asked an illegal interview question, you do not have to answer it. Rather, ask the interviewer how it relates to the position for which you are interviewing. Always keep the interview focused on the position and your qualification for it, rather than allowing yourself to be pulled into a discussion of your personal life.

Work with an Experienced Tulsa Employment Lawyer

Illegal interview questions are a form of workplace discrimination. If you have been a victim of workplace discrimination, do not stand by quietly. Work with an experienced employment lawyer to take action and assert your rights. To learn more, contact our team at Frasier, Frasier & Hickman LLP today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

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