An employer at an interview

Information for Search Committees

Acceptable and Unacceptable Pre-Employment Inquiries

The general rule is that all questions asked must be related to the performance of the specific job duties.

This chart provides general guidelines, both for job applicants and employers, as to what can or cannot be asked during a job interview in regard to anti-discrimination laws pertaining to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, or marital status. This applies to recruitment, hiring, transfers, promotions, and other applicable conditions of employment.

acceptable and unacceptable pre-employment inquiries
Subject Acceptable Unacceptable
Race or Color None Any inquiry involving race, complexion, color, or ethnic affiliation.
Birthplace None Birthplace of applicant, birthplace of applicant's spouse, parents or other close relatives.
Religion Willingness to work required work schedule. Inquiry into an applicant's religions denominations, affiliations, Church, parish, pastor or reilgous holidays observed.
National Origin None Inquiry into applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, parentage, or nationality.  Nationality of applicant’s parents or spouse.
Citizenship Is U.S. residence legal? If hired, can you show proof of authorization to work in the United States? If applicant or applicant’s parents are native-born or naturalized. Require proof of citizenship before being hired.
Organizations Inquiry into organizational membership and offices held. Exclude organizations which indicate race, creed, color, or nation origin of its members. Listing all clubs, societies, and lodges to which you belong.
Military Experience Inquiry into the service in the U.S. Armed Forces, including branch and rank or any job related experience. General military experience, such as, inquiry into military service records or types of discharge.
Sex None A pre employment inquiry as to sex on an application form is unlawful.
Marital Status None Are you married? Where does your spouse work? What are the ages of your children, if any?
Age Are you at least 18 years of age? How old are you? What is the date of your birth?
Disability If the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Do you have a disability? What diseases are you being treated for?
Name For access purposes, whether the applicants work records are under another name. To ask if a woman is a Miss, Mrs., or Ms., or to ask for a maiden name.
Residence Applicant’s length of current and previous address and phone number (for contact purposes). None
Relatives Names of relatives already employed by the company. Information concerning applicant’s children or other relatives not employed by the company.
Photograph None. Requirement that an applicant affix a photograph to employment application at any time before hiring.
Language Inquiry into language applicant speaks, writes, or reads fluently. Inquiries into how applicant acquired ability to speak, write, or read a foreign language.
Education Inquiry into the academic, vocational or professional education of an applicant and the public and private schools the applicant has attended. Nationality, racial or religious affiliation of schools attended.
Criminal Record Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, when, where and disposition of the offense? Have you ever been arrested? Inquiry into arrest record.