Interview questions and structured interviewing
Username: Password:

Interview Questions: Do's and Don'ts

Anne Lane

During employment interviews, an employer should ask questions that determine whether or not the potential employee will be able to perform the job they are seeking. An employer must avoid asking questions that might indicate discrimination against certain individuals even if that was not the employer’s intent. There are ways to ask an employee about his or her ability to do the job while avoiding impermissible questions.

Don’t ask a potential employee if she is married, has children or plans to have children. These questions might provide the basis for a sex discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Do describe the job requirements you are concerned about such issues as overtime or travel and ask if she will be able to meet them. For example, you can state that frequent overtime is necessary on the job and ask the interviewee if she will be able to work overtime when needed.

Don’t ask a potential employee about his religion.

Do let the interviewee know if work is required on Saturdays or Sundays and then ask if he can work on those days.

Don’t ask “how old are you” or “when did you graduate from high school?” These questions might indicate discrimination on the basis of age, which is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

Do Ask if the interviewee has the necessary skills to do the job. For example, ask “What experience do you have working with Microsoft Word?” You can also ask for the dates when post high school education was completed.

Don’t ask an interviewee if she is a citizen. This could expose you to a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin, or under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of citizenship or national origin.

Do ask “if you were hired, would you be able to provide proof of authorization to work in the US?”

Don’t ask the potential employee if he has a disability that will interfere with his ability to do the job, if he has a specific illness, or how many days he was sick in the past year. All of these questions could indicate that you are discriminating against a qualified individual with a disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Do make sure that the interviewee meets all of the necessary prerequisites of the job, including education, skills, experience, licenses, training, certificates, and other job related requirements such as the ability to work with others or good judgment. Also, do describe the essential functions of the job and ask the interviewee if he can perform those functions with or without accommodations. For example, if interviewing a blind applicant for the job of social worker, ask “How will you fill out our client intake form?” You may also ask a potential employee how many days of leave of absence were taken during the prior year as long as you do not ask for what purpose, i.e. do not ask whether leave taken was sick or personal.



Finding Candidates

Interviewing Basics

Interviewing Best Practices

Laws & Documentation

Line Manager / Recruiting Partnership


Pre-Planning & Retention

Reading the Candidate

Recruiting Basics

Recruiting Best Practices

Useful Links