Guide to Pre-Employment Inquiries: What You Can and Cannot Ask Candidates

Category ALLOWED POTENTIAL DISCRIMINATORY
Arrest NONE Number and type of arrest
Availability – Weekends, Eves If asked of all applicants and it is a business necessity to be available to work weekends and/or evenings Any inquiry re religious observance
Child Care                                                        None, unless asked of all applicants Inquiry into child care arrangements of only female applicants
Citizenship, Birthplace & Nat’l Origin Only if applicant is eligible to work in the US under Immigrant Reform and Control Act of 1986

Best to ask:

Are you either a U.S. citizen or an alien authorized to work in US?  

Yes or No answer that follows provides all needed information while not disclosing which (citizen or alien) the applicant is.        

Birthplace, national origin, ancestry, or lineage of applicant, applicant’s parents or applicant’s spouse

Conviction Records Inquiry into convictions if job-related Any inquiry about conviction, unrelated to job requirements      
Creed Or Religion                     None, except if religion is BFO Religious affiliation, church, parish, or religious holidays observed
Credit Records             None, unless job-related Inquiries about charge accounts, bank accounts, etc.

Family Status

 

Whether applicant has responsibilities or commitments that prevent meeting work schedules, if asked of all applicants regardless of sex Marital status, number and age of children, spouse’s job            
Height and Weight None, unless job-related Any inquiry unrelated to job requirements
Language Language applicant speaks or writes fluently, if job-related Applicant’s other tongue, language used by applicant at home, or how applicant acquired the ability to read, write or speak a foreign   language
Marital Status  None Whether applicant is married, single, divorced, separated, engaged or widowed
Military Status             Military experience or training Type or condition of discharge          
Name Whether applicant has worked under a different name The original name of an applicant whose name has been legally changed or the national origin of an applicant’s name
Organizations Applicant’s membership in professional organizations if job-related All clubs, social fraternities, societies, lodges   or organizations to which applicant belongs               
Photographs None except after hiring Photographs with application or after interview but before hiring             
Pregnancy None Any inquiry into pregnancy, medical history of pregnancy or family plan 
Race Or Color None Applicant’s race or color of applicant’s skin    
References Names of character references Name of applicant’s pastor or religious leader
Relatives/Friends Names of applicant’s relatives already employed by your organization or a competitor, but you may not give preference if women and minorities are underrepresented in workforce Names of friends working for the company or relatives other than those working for the company
Sex None, except where sex is a BFOQ Any inquiry except where a BFOQ
Workers’ Compensation None Past workers’ compensation claims  

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