Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

What Can - and Can't - Employers Ask in a Job Interview?

By Dan Atkerson on September 28, 2020

A woman at a job interviewJob interviews are an essential part of the hiring process. They help employers find people that they think will be a good fit for their job position and company. Although interviews are important, there are some questions employers cannot legally ask. 

An employment law attorney can provide legal insight into what employers can and can't ask in a job interview. Servicing Allen, TX, Plano, TX, Frisco, TX, and surrounding areas attorney Dan A. Atkerson is available to discuss employment law concerns.  

Why Are Some Interview Questions Illegal?

There are several federal laws that make discrimination in the workplace illegal. Some of these laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Because of these and other federal and state laws, questions in a job interview that ask for information that could be used to discriminate against a potential employee are illegal. Directly asking about a person's race, ethnicity, or disability could result in an investigation by the EEOC or a discrimination lawsuit. 

The following are examples of questions employers can and can't ask during a job interview. 

Questions about Disabilities

Certain physical tasks are sometimes a job requirement, such as lifting or carrying heavy loads. An employer may think this would allow them to ask a job candidate if they have a disability, but even in this situation this question cannot be asked.

Instead, employers should provide a job description that includes the physical tasks required of the job. They can then ask job candidates if they are able to perform the duties necessary to perform the job. 

Questions about Age

Age discrimination against people over the age of 40 is a violation of the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Therefore, asking someone during a job interview when they were born, how old they are, when they graduated high school, or any other question that helps determine one’s age may be illegal. 

However, jobs that have a legal requirement that employees be of a certain age, such as 21 years of age for bartending, can legally ask someone their age before hiring them. 

Questions about Race, Citizenship, or National Origin

Asking a job candidate questions about their ancestry, race, place of birth, citizenship, or national origin are illegal as this information may be used to discriminate against people. Asking a potential employee if they are a U.S. citizen or where they were born is not permitted. 

With that said, employers must follow certain laws when hiring people from other countries. Questions that inquire if a person is legally eligible to work in the United States can be asked. 

Questions about Criminal Record

Asking about someone's criminal record may be illegal if the question is unrelated to the job. Inquiring about an arrest or conviction may be permissible if either is directly related to the position the candidate is applying for. 

Contact Employment Law Attorney Dan A. Atkerson 

Discrimination in the workplace can happen even before someone is hired. The interview process can present many opportunities for employers to ask questions in an effort to avoid hiring someone based on race, age, or disabilities. If you believe you were discriminated against by an employer or during the interview process, it's important to speak with employment law attorney Dan A. Atkerson. Call (214) 383-3606 to schedule your free consultation

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