IS THAT LEGAL TO ASK?

Job seekers may think they're the only ones sweating the job interview -- afraid they'll say the wrong thing or answer inappropriately -- but hiring managers are under just as much pressure. There are a number of questions interviewers are legally not allowed to ask, but sometimes the parameters are not clear. For example, in an attempt to make a candidate feel at ease, the interviewer might innocently ask him, "What does your wife do?" Wrong. It's illegal to ask if someone is married, even using a backdoor approach like this. According to CareerBuilder.com, 20 percent of hiring managers admitted in a nationwide survey by Harris Poll that they asked a question in a job interview they found out later was illegal to ask.
  • Ten interview questions that are illegal to ask: 
  • What is your religious affiliation? 
  • Are you pregnant? 
  • What is your political affiliation? 
  • What is your race, color or ethnicity? 
  • How old are you? 
  • Are you disabled? 
  • Are you married? 
  • Do you have children or plan to? 
  • Are you in debt? 
  • Do you social drink or smoke? 
"It's important for both interviewer and interviewee to understand what employers do and don't have a legal right to ask in a job interview -- for both parties' protection," says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. "Though their intentions may be harmless, hiring managers could unknowingly be putting themselves at risk for legal action, as a job candidate could argue that certain questions were used to discriminate against him or her."

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