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EEO Guidelines for Interviewing

Interviewing and evaluating applicants fairly is one of the most important and critical stages of the recruitment process. All search committee members and hiring authorities should know what information may legitimately be sought during the interview. Any question related to education, experience, strengths and weaknesses, promotions, accomplishments, current salary, salary requirements and reasons for leaving a job are considered acceptable inquiries.



Can the employer demonstrate a job-related necessity for asking the question?



What do I really need to know about this applicant to decide whether s/he is qualified to perform this job?


Some lines of inquiry may themselves be viewed as discriminatory; others have the potential to elicit information that is improper to use in making a decision. Examples of these areas of concern follow this introduction.


Interviewing topics
Age No acceptable pre-employment inquiries. (The exception, as always, is when you can prove that age is a Bona fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) - i.e., is necessary to perform the job, usually difficult or impossible to prove.)
Arrest Record No acceptable pre-employment inquiries. (Law enforcement agencies are exempt from this restriction)
Citizenship Whether the applicant is prevented from lawfully becoming employed in this country because of visa or immigration status. Whether applicant can show proof of citizenship, visa or alien registration number after being hired.
Convictions It is alright to inquire about an applicant's conviction record for "security sensitive" jobs, since it has been shown that people with high conviction rates are poor risks for these jobs.
Credit Inquiries No acceptable pre-employment inquiries unless job-related.
Disability Are you able to perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable accommodation? (Provide applicant with job description.)
Education If the individual has the specific education or training required for the specific job.
Family Status Whether applicant has any activities, commitments, or responsibilities that might prevent him or her from meeting work schedules or attendance requirements. (These questions must be asked of both men and women or of neither.)
Financial Status No acceptable pre-employment inquiries.
Height and Weight Inquiries about ability to perform the job (without mentioning the person's height or weight.)
Marital Status No acceptable pre-employment inquiries other than whether applicant can meet work schedule or job requirements asked of all candidates.
Medical Conditions No acceptable pre-employment inquiries.
Military Record Inquiries about education, training, experience or qualifications gained in U.S. armed forces relating to the actual position.
National Origin Inquiries into applicant's ability to read, write and speak English or foreign languages when required for a specific job. It is also acceptable to state "All offers of employment are contingent upon verification of identity and work authorization in the United States," and "Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?"
Organization Inquiries about membership in professional organizations related to the job - e.g., does the applicant for a chemical engineering job belong to a chemical engineering society?
Personal Information Whether the applicant has ever worked for your organization under the current name or another name. Names of character references.
Pregnancy Inquiries about the applicant's anticipated duration of stay on the job or anticipated absences - only if made to both male and female applicants.
Race or Color No acceptable pre-employment inquiries.
References Name of persons willing to provide professional references for applicant or who refers the candidate to the position.
Relatives Name of applicant's relative already employed by our organization or competitor. (This inquiry becomes unlawful when hiring preference is given to relatives of employees at a time when minorities are under-represented in your organization's work force.)
Religion or Creed No acceptable pre-employment inquiries on denominations, beliefs, customs or religious holidays observed. Limit question(s) to stating the requirements of the position.
Residence Inquiries about the applicant's address needed for future contact with the applicant.
Sex No acceptable pre-employment inquiries, except for a Bona fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) when the position justifies hiring a candidate of a specific sex.
Workers' Compensation No acceptable pre-employment inquiries.


SOURCES: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Office of the Provost - Wake Forest University; SHRM White Papers- Basic Interviewing and Guidelines on Interview and Employment Application Question; University of Massachusetts- Lowell; University of North Florida Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity