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Survey finds illegal job interview questions tripping up employers

Posted On: Apr. 9, 2015 12:00 AM CST

Survey finds illegal job interview questions tripping up employers

One in five employers has unknowingly asked an illegal interview question, and at least one in three are unsure about the legality of certain interview questions, says Chicago-based CareerBuilder L.L.C., in a survey released Thursday.

The national online survey of 2,192 hiring and human resources managers was commissioned by CareerBuilder and conducted by Harris Poll from Nov. 4 to Dec. 2, CareerBuilder said in a statement.

According to CareerBuilder, at least one-third of employers indicated they didn't know these questions were illegal to ask: What is your political affiliation? What is your race, color or ethnicity? How old are you? Are you disabled? Are you married? Do you plan to or have children? Are you in debt? Do you socially drink or smoke?

CareerBuilder also found that some interviewers did not know asking about a candidate's arrest record is illegal, but asking about convictions is not; that asking why a military veteran was discharged is illegal, but asking about education, training or work experience while in the military is not; and that it is illegal to ask about citizenship or national origin, but not about whether a candidate is legally eligible for employment in the U.S.

“It's important for both interviewer and interviewee to understand what employers do and don't have a legal right to ask in a job interview — for both parties' protection,” stated Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Though their intentions may be harmless, hiring managers could unknowingly be putting themselves at risk for legal action, as a job candidate could argue that certain questions were used to discriminate against him or her.”