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Can interview questions lead to discrimination?

| Mar 26, 2021 | Employment Discrimination |

Businesses will often invest significant time and money into finding the perfect candidate for an open position. Unfortunately, this effort could end up having unintended consequences. From questions on the application to the in-person interview, a business must take steps to act in a neutral, objective manner.

It is not uncommon for a hiring manager to attempt to put an interviewee at ease using small talk or casual conversation. Unfortunately, the use of seemingly innocuous questions to foster conversation might ultimately have a negative impact. Interviews must focus strictly on questions related to the job description or the candidate’s work experience. Lines of questioning such as the following could be considered discriminatory:

  • Are you married?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you planning to have more children?
  • What country are you from?
  • Do you like to drink?
  • How old are you?

While these questions might seem like harmless conversation-starters, it is possible for an applicant to be rejected based on their responses – even subconsciously. Additionally, the interviewee might become concerned during the interview – losing focus and not performing up to his or her own standards. They might become distracted by thoughts such as “Why is she asking about my children? Does having children hurt my chances to get this job?” Interview questions cannot focus on personal characteristics. Lines of inquiry that focus on family or health can be discriminatory.

If you feel a hiring decision was based on factors outside your work experience, it is wise to discuss your situation with an employment law attorney. Workers and job applicants are protected by numerous acts and regulations that ensure a business must behave professionally and objectively.