Small Biz Tip: Pre-Screening Employees: Legal Interview Questions

Tips from June 22, 2009

The Small Business tips today will be about legal questions you can ask when hiring an employee.

  1. Questions regarding citizenship are tricky to ask during an interview. You cannot ask if your potential employee is a U.S. citizen, but you may ask if they are authorized to work in the United States.
  2. Asking about age could lead to cases for discrimination down the road.  Instead, ask if they are over the age of 18 to be sure your potential employee can legally work for you.
  3. Although it would be good to know if a potential employee has been arrested, you cannot ask that question in an interview.  Instead, ask if they have been convicted of a specific crime (fraud, theft, etc).  The specific crime should be related to the performance of the job in question.
  4. Asking potential employers if they “have any disabilities” is illegal and will be discussed further in later tips. If the interviewer thoroughly described the job tasks, it is legal to ask, “Are you able to perform the essential functions of this position?”

Daily Overview: Always be careful the way that you phrase interview questions and consider the repercussions that could result. For more information, please visit the The Department of the Interior

I am not an attorney. I have attempted to condense complicated and detailed legal issues into 140 characters per line. My interpretation may not be exact. Please contact an attorney for professional legal advice.

For more information, please visit the American Bar Association.