Keeping It Legal: What Is Acceptable To Ask

Keeping It Legal: What Is Acceptable To Ask

At the PJF Group, we understand that the functional aspects of hiring are not always easy, and we appreciate employers who are committed to ensuring that hiring is accomplished efficiently and equitably on every level. You may have read our previous blog on ‘Keeping It legal: What Not To Ask’, and have been wondering… now what? Well, here goes as we address what IS acceptable to ask of a prospective employee. 

While being mindful of the interviewee and interviewer relationship and what not to ask, it is common to wonder how you can really get to know a candidate without asking questions that are too personal. Most often, employers are not looking for criteria to exclude individuals, but simply to get to know their values and passions better and determine areas of fit. Here are some examples of question that employers can ask to learn more about who a candidate is (beyond their position qualifications) without violating any of the EEOC guidelines. 

1 | Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know about you. 

2 | What is your ideal position & why? 

3 | What are two of the most satisfying accomplishments in your career? 

4 | What is a development area that you’ve had to overcome or improve upon and what steps did you take? 

5 | What languages do you speak, read and write fluently? 

6 | Are you a member of a professional or trade group that is relevant to our industry?

7 | What are your short and long-term career goals? 

8 | What is your travel and after-hours availability? 

9 | What names are your work records under? 

10 | Are you able to carry out the necessary job assignments and perform them safely? 

As you can see, some of these questions are intended to learn more about who the candidate is and what they value, while others are direct alternatives to questions which could otherwise enter  the territory of marital & familial status, gender & sex, race & ethnicity, country of origin, disability, age and religion. These questions strive to provide a respectful entry into discussion for a candidate to make known if they are unavailable certain days of the week or after hours, why certain verification records may be under a different last name or what career path the candidate is seeking. (Note that a prospect may state they are unavailable to work Sundays without stating religious reasons or may provide an alternative last name without stating why. These questions are in no way intended to solicit disclosure of an EEOC protection, but simply to validate position requirements and candidate suitability.) 

Once interviewees feel comfortable navigating the interview process with ease and without fear – we find they start to really appreciate the ‘fun’ part: learning who your prospects are and why you can’t wait for them to join your team! 

The PJF Group is committed to making sure who you hire isn’t just someone whose skill set ‘checks the boxes’, but someone you can build a successful working relationship with in this dynamic Silicon Valley business landscape. A highly-personalized approach that meets your distinct professional needs is possible; we’d be honored to show you how! 

*While the information we have provided here is in good faith and is a critical professional consideration, this information does not constitute legal advice and should not be employed as such.

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