March 10, 2006

Interview Questions Should Be Job Related

Questions asked in an interview should focus on your qualifications for the job. Although recent legislation helps ensure that you are not asked illegal questions, occasionally these questions come up on an application or in an interview.

Questions related to the job:
What education do you have?
What experience qualifies you for this job?
Do you have licenses and certifications for this job?
Are you willing to travel?
What name(s) are your work records under?
Do you have the legal right to work in the United States?
Are you available for overtime?

After hiring, an employer may request:
A copy of your birth certificate
Affirmative action statistics
Your marital status (married or single only)
Proof of citizenship
Physical examination and drug testing
Social Security card

Questions an employer should not ask:
What is your age or date of birth?
What is your sexual orientation?
What church do you attend?
What is your national origin?
What is your maiden name?
Are you married, widowed, divorced, or separated?
What is or was your spouse's name and/or job?
Have you ever filed a workers' compensation claim?
Do you have any physical impairments or disabilities?

Title I of ADA lists these prohibited questions:
Have you ever been hospitalized? If so, for what condition?
Have you ever been treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist? If so, for what condition?
Is there any health-related reason that you may not be able to perform the job for which you are applying?
How many days were you absent from work because of illness last year?
Are you taking any prescribed drugs?
Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?

Make it an opportunity:

If an employer asks a personal question in the interview that is unrelated to the job, rather than refusing to answer the question, or giving unnecessary information that might not help you get the job, make it an opportunity to ask a job related question and let the employer know that you have done your homework. Such as:

I feel that I have all of the qualifications in the job description, is there something else that I should know about this position?

Very briefly describe the job as you understand it, and ask if there is something else that you should know.

Ask what a typical day would look like on the job. Describe how your skills will add value to this position.