Knowing what you should ask is important. Just as important is knowing what cannot ask. Here is an overview of lawful and unlawful questions commonly asked during the job interview process. This list is provided by Management Recruiters International.

U.S. Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide*
Please note: Lawful/unlawful pre-employment inquiries vary by country/region. Please consult local advisors.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Applicant’s full name.
“Have you ever worked for this company under a different name?”
“Is any additional information relative to a different name necessary to check work record? If yes, explain.”
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Original name of an applicant whose name has been changed by court order or otherwise.
Applicant’s maiden name.
Address or  Duration of Residence
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
“How long have you been a resident of this state
or city?”
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Birthplace of applicant.
Birthplace of applicant’s parents, spouse, or other
close relatives.
Requirement that applicant submit birth certificate,
naturalization, or baptismal record.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
 “Are you 18 years old or older?”
“Are you of a legal age to work?”
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
“How old are you?”
“What is your date of birth?”
Religion or Creed
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
You may ask about a candidate’s ability to work on weekends or holidays, if this availability is job-related.  However, you may have to accommodate candidates’ religious observances that conflict with your interview schedules, if it is not a burden to do so.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into an applicant’s religious denomination, religious affiliations, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed.
Race or Color
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Complexion or color of skin.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Any requirement for a photograph prior to hire.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry regarding applicant’s height.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry regarding applicant’s weight.
Marital Status
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Does this employer employ your spouse?  Has the candidate has ever been known by another name, in order to facilitate accurate background check.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Asking a person’s maiden name, gender, marital status spouse, preference for ‘Miss,’ ‘Mrs.,’ or ‘Ms.,’ pregnancy, family plans, or childcare arrangements. Requirement that an applicant provide any information regarding marital status or children. Inquiry as to the ability to reproduce or advocacy of any form of birth control.
Handicap or Disability
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Can you perform the duties of the job in which you wish to be employed, with or without accommodation? You may inquire about the candidate’s total number of absences in the previous year.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits all pre-employment medical inquiries.  Do not ask specific questions about diseases or illnesses, the number of days the candidate was sick in the previous year, workers compensation injuries or claims, mental health issues and history, past addiction, past illegal drug use or current prescription drug use.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
 “Are you currently authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis for any employer?” If the applicant’s answer is “yes”, you may then ask “Will you now or in the near future require employment visa sponsorship (ie, H1B Visa)?” If the candidate’s answer is “no” to your original question, whether they are currently authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis, you may then ask what his or her immigration status is.  (To avoid discrimination claim based on national origin, these questions should be asked of all candidates, not just “foreign-looking” or “foreign-sounding” candidates).
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
(Questions below are unlawful unless asked as part of the Federal I-9 process). “Of what country are you a citizen?” Whether an applicant is naturalized or a native-born citizen; the date when the applicant acquired citizenship.  Requirement that an applicant produce naturalization papers or first papers. Whether applicant’s parents or spouse are naturalized or native-born citizens of the U.S., the date when such parent or spouse acquired citizenship.
Military Status
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
You may ask about job-related military experience or training.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry about military status or type of military discharge.  Inquiry about future military commitments (e.g., reserve status) that may require time off work.
National Origin
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into languages applicant speaks and writes fluently.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into applicant’s:
a) lineage
b) descent
c) national origin
d) descent
e) percentage, or nationality unless pursuant to the Federal I-9 process.
Nationality or homeland of applicant’s parents or spouse. Inquiries into how applicant acquired ability to read, write, or speak a foreign language.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into the academic, vocational, or professional education of an applicant and the public and private schools attended.
Financial Status
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
You may perform credit checks if you follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act Regulations.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into financial status (unless job-related), past garnishments or bankruptcy.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into work experience. Inquiry into countries applicant has visited.
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
 “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” “Are there any felony charges pending against you?”
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry regarding arrests, which did not result in conviction (except for law enforcement agencies).
Organizations or Activities
Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Inquiry into the organizations of which an applicant is a member, excluding names or characters which indicate the race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry of its members.
Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Do not inquire as to a list of clubs, societies, or lodges; or about smoking, drinking or other legal activities that the applicant may engage in off-duty.  More than 1/2 of U.S. states protect smokers against employment discrimination based on smoking off-duty, and a growing number prohibit

*Post offer employment paperwork.  Many questions that are inappropriate at the screening stage can become legitimate after an offer is made and must be answered before employment begins.  This will certainly be the case in regards to reference checking.  Other examples of necessary information include providing a SSN for education verification (if a degree is a job requirement), date of birth, and work eligibility documents if needed to verify employment eligibility, process pay or perform a background check.

Contributed by Morgan Pace, Senior Dentist Recruiter for ETS Dental, | | 540-591-9102

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