An employment interview is conducted for several reasons; the main
reason is to learn more about the applicants under consideration for
a particular job. Your responsibilities as an interviewer are to:
Verify answers that the prospective employee has given on the application
Ask questions designed to find out if the applicant is an appropriate
candidate for the job opening.
Acquaint the applicant with UMD and your department.
Provide the applicant with the opportunity to ask questions about
the job and UMD.
Prepare carefully for each interview. Be sure that you are interviewing
applicants without violating affirmative action and Equal
Employment Opportunity (EEO) rules and regulations.
EEO and other laws require you to ask only specifically job-related
questions. You may not ask questions about the following:
sex (including pregnancy, child birth, number of
disability (physical or mental)
availability of child care
sources of income
availability of transportation
workers' compensation claims
status regarding public assistance
May Discriminate by Asking
Sex and family arrangements
If applicant has relatives
already employed by the organization
*Sex of Applicant
*Number of Children
*Child care arrangements
*Health care coverage through spouse
Applicant’s race or color of skin Photo
to be affixed to application form
National origin or ancestry
*Whether Applicant has a legal right to
be employed in the U.S.
*Ability to speak/write English fluently (if job related)
*Other languages spoken (if job related)
*Ethnic association of a surname
*Birthplace of applicant or applicants parents
*Nationality, lineage, national origin
*Nationality of Applicants spouse
*Whether Applicant is a citizen of another country
*Applicants native tongue/English proficiency
*Maiden name (of married woman)
*Religious affiliation/Availability for
*Religious holidays observed
*If Applicant is over age 18 or if applicant
is over 21, if job related i.e., bartender)
* Date of Birth
* Date of high school graduation
Whether applicant can perform the essential
If Applicant has a disability
Nature or severity of a disability
Whether Applicant has ever filed a workers’ compensation
Recent or past surgeries and dates
Past medical problems>
*Convictions if job related
* Academic, vocational, or professional schooling-Training received in
* Membership in any trade or professional association
* Job References
*Number and kinds of arrests
*Height and weight except if a bona fide occupational qualification
* Veteran status, discharge status, branch of service
*Contact in case of an emergency (at application or interview
MORE INFORMATION ON DO'S AND DONT'S
As stated above, the following topics should be avoided in an interview
(or on an application for employment):
Age is irrelevant unless you are concerned about child labor violations
under the Fair Labor Standards Act, in which case you can ask for
proof that the applicant is old enough to work.
Arrest record do not ask at all-you may ask about convictions,
but even then it would have to be relevant to the position to lead
to immediate rejection.
Association with present employees-this information is not relevant
to an applicant's ability to perform successfully in a particular
job, and the tendency to either encourage or prohibit the employment
of friends or relatives of existing employees may create an adverse
impact on members of protected classes. (Your state may have anti-nepotism
Bankruptcy and credit affairs-never ask about bankruptcy since
it is illegal to discriminate on this basis under the Federal Bankruptcy
Act-all credit inquires must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting
Citizenship-unless required by law or regulation, you may not ask
applicants if they are U.S. citizens since it is considered discriminatory
under the Immigration Reform and Control Act. You may ask if candidates
are authorized to work in the United States.
Disability-the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal
to ask questions about an applicant's disability or perceived disability-it
is crucial to focus on the job, not on the disability.
Driver's license-avoid asking about it unless the job requires
one since it could statistically screen out females, minorities
and/or individuals with disabilities.
Educational attainment-relevant if it is directly related to successful
job performance-if not, avoid it because it could potentially screen
Emergency contact information-unnecessary at the application stage-and
it can be discriminatory if it reveals information about the applicant's
membership in a protected class.
English language skills-only ask if it is a requirement of the
job (e.g., an English teacher)-otherwise it could be construed as
national origin discrimination.
Height and weight-can be discriminatory against females, Hispanics,
and/or Asians-it is important to focus on what the job requires,
not the person's physical characteristics.
Marital status/name changes/spouse/children-any questions relating
to these issues may be construed as discriminatory, especially against
women-none are job related.
Organization or club membership-this might reveal protected class
information and it is irrelevant (i.e., Knights of Columbus, NAACP
or Diabetes Association).
Race, color, religion, sex, or national origin-Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines prohibit
asking questions that may reveal this information; rejected applicants
could have grounds for a discrimination suit if any of these questions
were part of the application process.
Union affiliation-could be considered an unfair labor practice
under the National Labor Relations Act if the applicant claims he
or she was not hired because of the union affiliation.
Veteran status/military records-general questions about a person's
background in the military should only be asked if based on business
necessity or job-related reasons. If requested, such information
should include a statement that general or dishonorable discharge
will not be an absolute bar to employment but that other factors
will be taken into consideration.
Weekend work/shift changes-unless required for the job, the applicant
should not have to state whether or not they can work on the weekends-this
could screen out applicants who cannot work on some weekend days
because of their religious beliefs.
You should be aware that when you inquire into any of these factors,
there is a risk of encouraging charges of unlawful discrimination and
of providing evidence that might be used by complainants in proving
charges of discrimination. Call the UMD Department of Human Resources
WARNING! If discriminatory questions
are used in pre-employment screening, the burden of proof that the questions
are not being used to discriminate rests with the employer.
So what you may wonder is, what is left to ask? Following is a list
of possible questions. Not all of them will be appropriate for the positions
you are trying to fill. First, decide what you need to know for each
position for which you interview. Second, if you have a list of questions
ready and use the same one each time for each position, it will save
you time. In addition, it will help you stay on track in asking only
the "right" questions. Whatever questions you do ask, make
sure to ask them of every applicant for the same position.
It is acceptable to ask the following questions:
Is there anything else you think I should know that will help me make
Why are you interested in this job?
Describe your education and training.
What kinds of machines can you run, and what tools can you use?
What experiences have you had that will qualify you for this position?
Where have you worked before?
Why did you leave there?
What parts of the job did you like best?
What parts of your job gave you the most trouble?
Do you have the necessary licenses/certifications to do the job?
What are your salary expectations?
Are you willing to travel if required?
We occasionally require overtime/evening/weekend work. Is that a problem
Our work hours are ___ to ___. Will you have any trouble being here
at that time?
Our work site is located at _________. Will you have any problem getting
there on time each day?
What would be your ideal job?
What kinds of things do you think your former bosses will say about
your work with them?
When Interviewing People with Disabilities
Do ensure that the interview facility is accessible to people with disabilities.
Do inform the applicant of any special parking available.
Do allow the applicant at least a full day to prepare for your interview.
Do identify the essential functions on the job.
Do make eye contact with the person.
Do talk directly to the applicant-not to an interpreter.
Do after the initial greeting, sit down so that a person who uses a
wheelchair can easily make eye
Do ask about the person's ability to perform the job.
Don't assume the person is able to shake your hand.
Don't lean on an applicant's wheelchair.
Don't shout or raise your voice to a person who is hearing impaired.
Don't touch or talk to a seeing-eye dog.
Don't ask about a person's disability history.
Don't ask about prior workers' compensation claims.
Don't ask how the person became disabled.
Don't ask how a person is going to get to work.