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Interviewing is one of the key components in selecting quality contract candidates for your clients. But this vital practice can also get you and your clients in legal hot water if you are not careful. Certain questions can spur claims of discrimination.

Recruiters should be especially careful (and advise their clients to be careful) when asking contract candidates questions regarding the following topics:

  1. Citizenship
    • Ask: Whether they are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
    • DON’T ask: Are you a citizen? Also, don’t ask for proof of eligibility until after the job offer has been extended.
  2. National Origin
    • Ask: Are you eligible to work in the U.S.? Can you communicate well enough to perform the essential job duties?
    • DON’T ask: Anything about the candidate’s lineage, ancestry, native language, accent, birthplace, or origin of spouse or parents.
  3. Disabilities
    • Ask: Can you perform the essential duties with or without accommodation?
    • DON’T ask: Any questions intended to reveal details about the disability.
  4. Criminal Background
    • Ask: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
    • DON’T ask: Have you ever been arrested?
  5. Personal
    • Ask: Can you work the schedule required by this job? Can you work overtime? Are you willing to relocate?
    • DON’T Ask: Are you married? Do you have children? Who would watch the kids while you are working? Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant?
  6. Age
    • Ask: Do you meet the minimum or maximum age requirement? (Only permissible if there is a genuine occupational qualification)
    • DON’T ask: How old are you? When did you graduate from high school?
  7. Religion
    • Ask: Can you work all the days required?
    • DON’T ask: What religion do you practice? Do you go to church? What holidays do you observe?

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. There are countless touchy subjects when it comes to candidate interviews. If you have any qualms about questions you or your clients are asking, be sure to run them past legal counsel.

This article is intended to give only general information and should not be construed as legal advice for specific situations. Please contact your legal counsel before taking any action.

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