As an interviewer, there are countless questions you can ask to get to know a potential candidate, but some of them can get you into trouble. We recommend training every person on your team who may be conducting interviews, or who may be representing your company during any recruiting or hiring, on what they can and cannot ask during an interview. We put together a short guide so you can avoid risk and discrimination lawsuits.
The Legal Background
In the United States, The Civil Rights Act established the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) to promote equal opportunity in employment. The EEOC enforces laws that prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting, firing, setting wages, training, and all other terms and conditions of employment. In Canada, The Canadian Human Rights Act has established similar laws. Interview questions that are related to a candidate’s age, ethnicity, gender, religion, marital or family status or pregnancy must be avoided.
What You Can and Can’t Ask
According to the Canada Human Resources Centre, here are some common interview questions and ways to ask them legally and illegally.
|Topic||Illegal Questions||Legal Questions|
|Nationality & Citizenship||
Are you a Canadian citizen?
Where were you born?
Is English your first language?
|Are you authorized to work in Canada?|
How old are you?
When did you graduate?
What’s your birth date?
|Are you between the ages of 18 and 64?|
What’s your marital status?
Who do you live with?
Do you plan to have a family? If so, when?
How many kids do you have?
What are your child-care arrangements?
Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?
Would you be able and willing to travel as needed by the job?
Would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary?
(These questions are okay as long as they are asked of all applicants).
How tall are you?
How much do you weigh?
Do you drink socially?
Are you able to lift a 30kg weight and carry it 100 metres, as that is part of the job?
Do you have any disabilities?
Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations?
What was the date of your last physical exam?
How’s your family’s health
When did you lose your eyesight? How?
Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job? (This question is okay if the interviewer has thoroughly described the job.)
Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related functions?
Have you ever been arrested?
Have you ever been convicted of __________?
(The crime named should be reasonably related to the performance of the job in question.)
Prepping for Your Next Interview
Structuring your interview and pre-planning your questions can ensure you stay on safe legal grounds. To help you find the next great hire for your team, we put together this guide for Running a Winning Interview Process.