Successfully Interviewing Job Applicants
How can you hire the most qualified person for the job
while avoiding unlawful discrimination and also treating all applicants fairly and without
prejudice? By being aware of some Dos and Donts for interview
techniques and inquiries.
Discrimination in hiring practices is illegal in Iowa. It is against the law to
discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, creed, religion, national origin and age.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires private employers with 15 or more
employees to ensure equal employment opportunities to persons with mental and physical
disabilities. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires government contractors and
subcontractors to do the same while making reasonable accommodations for their
Following is a short list of some questions that are considered discriminatory, and should
Age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age
discrimination against persons aged 40 and older. The Iowa Civil Rights Act goes a step
farther by prohibiting discrimination against persons aged 18 and older.
Arrests. An arrest is no indication of guilt.
information can discourage minority applicants and is, therefore, illegal.
If you ask about
convictions, make sure the question is accompanied by a statement that a conviction will
not necessarily disqualify the applicant from hire.
Availability to work on weekends and evenings.
This is acceptable if
asked of all applicants, and it is a business necessity for the person to be available to
work at those times.
Citizenship, birthplace and national origin.
The fair and advisable
way to obtain this information is to ask: Are you EITHER a U.S. citizen or an alien
authorized to work in the United States? The yes or no
answer provides all needed information without disclosing if the applicant is a citizen or
Creed or religion. Not acceptable unless religion is a bona fide
Credit records. Not acceptable unless job related.
Disability. It is acceptable to ask if the applicant can perform the
essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.
Make sure you
have identified and provided the applicant with those essential functions before you ask
Family status. Acceptable only when determining if the applicant has
responsibilities or commitments that would interfere with work schedules and if asked of
all applicants, regardless of gender.
Height and weight. Not acceptable unless job related.
Language. Acceptable only if job related.
It is not acceptable to
require a person to read and write English if the person can be shown how to do the job or
instructed verbally. It can also be acceptable if there is a risk of personal
Sex, gender preference. Not acceptable unless it is a
Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ).
This is just a sample of issues employers should be
aware of. More detailed information is available in a publication
entitled Successfully Interviewing
Job Applicants online or available through your
local Workforce Development Center.
Detailed questions on equal employment opportunity can also be directed to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission at
(800) 457-4416. The district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
can be reached at (800) 669-4000.