What NOT to ask on an application and in an interview

October 6, 2015

Every year businesses deal with damaging and costly legal battles because a single question on a job application violated federal law. So, it is important that you check your job applications (paper and online) regularly to ensure they comply with federal and state laws.

You likely already know that your job application cannot ask contain questions about a person’s religion, race, sexual orientation, family, and other personal concerns. But here are a few other items you may not be aware of that you must avoid on an application and during interviews:

  1. DON’T ask about hobbies or what someone does during their free non-work time. After all, what if they tell you about church volunteer work, for example, or about working for a charity? Then you might learn something you wouldn’t normally ask about. Instead, ask about special skills that might be appropriate for the position sought.
  2. DON’T ask how someone will get to work. There isn’t any reason to learn if the person owns a car or takes public transportation, for instance. Instead, ask if the person can get to work on time.
  3. DON’T ask any medical questions (these can be asked at a later time). Instead, simply ask if the person can perform the tasks necessary.

The best sources for advice about job applications is your legal counsel. The cost of his/her time is much less than the cost of a lawsuit started by a disgruntled applicant who felt his/her rights were violated.

Contributed by Steven J. Austin of LABORCHEX.

Through the Michigan Chamber partnership with LABORCHEX, members get discounted pricing to employment background screening services. To learn more, please email Kym Lewis or call him at 1-800-880-0366.