Skip to Main Content

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.

 

GUIDING PRINCIPLE:

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

 

LITMUS TEST:

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
TOPIC OK TO ASK
Age Do not ask questions designed to obtain the applicant's age. Age is not a permissible hiring criteria.
Arrest Record No acceptable inquiries. (Law enforcement agencies are exempt from this restriction.)
Citizenship Are you legally authorized to work in the United States? Will you now or in the future require sponsorship for employment visa status (e.g., H-1B, TN, etc)?
Convictions Do not ask questions related to convictions. Criminal background screening results are reviewed by HR, who will ask additional questions of the applicant if necessary.
Credit Inquiries Do not ask questions related to credit. Screening results are reviewed by HR, who will ask additional questions of the applicant if necessary.
Disability Are you able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without 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 inquiries.
Height and Weight Inquiries about ability to perform the job (without mentioning the person's height or weight).
Marital Status No acceptable inquiries other than whether applicant can meet work schedule or job requirements (asked of all candidates).
Medical Conditions No acceptable 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 Do not ask any questions regarding a pregnancy or intent to become pregnant.
Race or Color No acceptable 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.
Religion or Creed No acceptable inquiries on denominations, beliefs, customs or religious holidays observed.
Residence Inquiries about the applicant's address needed for future contact with the applicant.
Sex No acceptable 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