Are Your Interviewing Questions Compliant?

Are Your Interviewing Questions Compliant?

As an employer, interviewing candidates for open positions can be a daunting responsibility. In addition to attracting the right person for the role, you need to sell them on your company and make sure they’re the right fit for your organization. Asking the right questions, listening to their answers and following up are all important parts of becoming a seasoned interviewer.

Employment laws and regulations in the United States are constantly changing and can vary from city to city and from state to state. However, as a recruiter, I believe there are two areas you should be aware of in order to make certain your interview questions, legal interpretations and decisions are compliant with current employment laws.

Ban the Box Legislation

The Ban the Box law asks employers to choose their best candidates based on job skills and qualifications, not past convictions. The “box” refers to the section in job applications that potential employees check if they have a criminal record. The law focuses on giving people with past convictions a fair chance at employment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends as a best practice that employers not ask about convictions early in the hiring process and that inquiries about convictions, if made, should be limited only to those that are job related.

Currently, more than 45 cities and counties across the country have changed their hiring practices to reduce discrimination based on arrest or conviction records. Although the law varies from location to location, many cities and states now prohibit inquiries about criminal history until after a candidate has been interviewed, or at least selected for an interview. Some go even further, delaying criminal inquiries until after the employer has made an offer of employment.

Ban the Salary Question Legislation

The Ban the Salary Question law is intended to help close the pay gap between men and women. Under the measure, you will no longer be allowed to screen applicants based on their salary history at any stage in the hiring process, including finalizing the employment contract. In the past, I’ve asked applicants about their current salary so I can determine if the company I’m representing can afford them. But for many of us, the new law means revising our job applications and interviewing guides.

While the salary question legislation is taking hold in some cities and states, there are some notable exceptions. Employers may use salary information that is volunteered by applicants, and the law also permits you to talk to candidates about their salary expectations.

Staying Up-to-Date on Changing Employment Laws

Employment laws and policies are ever-changing and vary from state to state. As an employer, you need to make smart decisions for your business and your employees, which is why it’s increasingly important to stay current on laws and regulations. When working with clients, I always recommend that they check with their legal counsel and seek assistance when educating staff members. It’s also imperative to ensure that any recruiters you use stay abreast of new laws and industry changes, and that they adjust their interview questions accordingly.

We live in a world where ignorance is not a valid line of defense. Therefore, carefully planning interview questions in advance and surrounding yourself with recruiting partners who are up-to-date on current employment laws will help minimize the risk of erroneously asking for prohibited information. If you have questions surrounding this content, send me an inquiry and I will follow-up with you.


by Trish Ryan
Trish Ryan is a regular contributor to PrincetonOne’s blog. With over 25 years of experience in the recruiting and staffing industry, Trish has helped a wide variety of companies from Fortune 100s to Start Ups, find the right talent for their organizations. Committed to providing timely industry information, Trish’s goal is to ensure that both clients and candidates experience a positive working relationship with their recruiters.​

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