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Employment Expertise – What Am I Not Allowed To Ask During An Interview?

Question: I wear a lot of hats at the business that I own and operate. I’m planning on doing some hiring. What am I not allowed to ask during an interview?

Answer: It’s best to keep the interview conversational and professional. Stick to the topic of the position the candidate is interviewing for, and any related experiences. It’s when things become more personal that interviewers run into issues. For example a resume might say “Graduated College 1991” but you may not ask, “How old are you?”

Some topics are obvious. You may not ask questions such as, “Do you have kids? How many kids? How long have you been married?” and other personal, unrelated questions.

Other topics, however, are not so obvious and easily come up in a small-town setting like this lakeshore area, where there are plenty of mutual friends and other cross-connections. “Do you know, or did you go to school with so-and-so?” seems benign, but is off limits. “Does your family attend this or that church? Tell me about your family. What do you do outside of work?” These are questions that appear naturally in conversation, especially in this area, but are also examples of questions you are lawfully not allowed to ask.

Interviewing is a time-consuming activity, and can be quite stressful. This is especially true for the small business where people, like you, are taking the lead in what are otherwise several professions at once. The hiring process is expensive and can be tedious. There is a lot to learn in a process that on the surface seems so simple. Business Services are not legal experts, but can offer practical advice. Refer to and search for the pre-employment inquiry guide for more information.

Story on the Holland Sentinel