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Ask Slashdot: How Have You Handled Illegal Interview Topics? 714

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-got-no-business-getting-into-my-business-interviews dept.
kodiaktau writes "Salary.com profiles 14 questions that interviewers may or may not ask during the interview process such as the standards of age, gender and sexual orientation. They also profile several lesser known illegal or border line questions like height/weight, military background, country of origin and family status. With the recent flap over companies asking potential employees for passwords during the interview process it is important to know and review your legal rights before entering the interview. Have you been confronted with borderline or illegal interview questions in the past? How have you responded to those questions?"
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Ask Slashdot: How Have You Handled Illegal Interview Topics?

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  • what (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:03PM (#39517313)

    i answer their questions in hopes that they will give me a job. i need beer money badly

  • Citizenship (Score:5, Informative)

    by colsandurz45 (1314477) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:07PM (#39517343)

    I work for DoD indirectly (not a defense contractor) and my emplyoer cannot hire non-US citizens, so there are exceptions to that rule.

    • Re:Citizenship (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:19PM (#39517459)

      Though apparently it is just fine to get hired as non-US citizen by the DoD.

      On November 25, 2008, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed a memorandum authorizing the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to implement a new non-citizen recruiting pilot program for the United States Armed Forces. Titled âoeMilitary Accessions Vital to the National Interestâ (MAVNI), the new pilot program allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the United States to join the military and apply immediately for US citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent residence.

      http://www.visalawyerblog.com/2009/02/fast_citizenship_the_armys_new.html [visalawyerblog.com]

      "service guarantees citizenship!" (Starship Troopers)

    • Re:Citizenship (Score:4, Informative)

      by Alotau (714890) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:22PM (#39517491)

      Some clarification from http://www.uwec.edu/career/online_library/illegal_ques.htm [uwec.edu] :

      "May ask about legal authorization to work in the specific position if all applicants are asked."

      So if you must legally be a US citizen for the job and everyone is asked, it's OK.

    • Re:Citizenship (Score:5, Informative)

      by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:41PM (#39517673) Homepage

      I work for DoD indirectly (not a defense contractor) and my emplyoer cannot hire non-US citizens, so there are exceptions to that rule.

      I work with a DoD contractor, and to be honest, that which you describe is not an exception to the rule. Requiring US citizenship is not the same as asking for one's country of origin, for example. You can have India or Guatemala as the country of origin, and a gig requiring US citizenship can only ask you to prove your citizenship (via a US passport, voter's registration, birth or naturalization certificate.)

      The DoD background check that follows for a sec. clearance (either after getting hired, or as a pre-requisite to allow your employer to hire you), that process and that entity can dig around those questions, to determine if you are a risk. But that's a process distinct from employment. For employment alone, no one, and I mean no one can legally ask for such questions during an employment interview.

      Maybe for some black-ops shit that is beyond the comprehension of us mere pedestrian schmucks, but that is highly speculative to begin with.

      • Re:Citizenship (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:25PM (#39518087)

        I work for DoD indirectly (not a defense contractor) and my emplyoer cannot hire non-US citizens, so there are exceptions to that rule.

        I work with a DoD contractor, and to be honest, that which you describe is not an exception to the rule. Requiring US citizenship is not the same as asking for one's country of origin, for example. You can have India or Guatemala as the country of origin, and a gig requiring US citizenship can only ask you to prove your citizenship (via a US passport, voter's registration, birth or naturalization certificate.)

        The DoD background check that follows for a sec. clearance (either after getting hired, or as a pre-requisite to allow your employer to hire you), that process and that entity can dig around those questions, to determine if you are a risk. But that's a process distinct from employment. For employment alone, no one, and I mean no one can legally ask for such questions during an employment interview.

        Maybe for some black-ops shit that is beyond the comprehension of us mere pedestrian schmucks, but that is highly speculative to begin with.

        Emigration status and citizenship status cannot be asked. I've been in the interviewer position for mor than a few high level security jobs and have been advised to rephrase those questions as "Are you eligible for a Secret/Top Secret clearance?". That can then be followed with eligibility requirements as a statement of fact.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      No one can hire illegals, so its a valid question to ask *any* applicant.

      "Are you legally allowed to work in the US, and do you have proof"

      • by frinkster (149158)

        No one can hire illegals, so its a valid question to ask *any* applicant.

        "Are you legally allowed to work in the US, and do you have proof"

        You do not have to be a citizen to work in the US. There are all sorts of visas that allow non-US citizens to work in the US, and then there is NAFTA - a lesser-known section of that treaty allows citizens of Mexico, Canada and the US to work in any of the three countries for any professional occupation on a multi-page list you can find on the State Department website.

      • > No one can hire illegals

        Tell that to the A-team!!

    • Re:Citizenship (Score:4, Informative)

      by IICV (652597) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:13PM (#39518007)

      I think that even in that case, they still can't ask if the applicant is a US citizen - they say something like "fyi you must be a US citizen to work here", and then HR just doesn't approve the hire if it turns out the applicant isn't a citizen.

  • Discrimination (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mattygfunk1 (596840) * on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:07PM (#39517355)
    Why is Slashdot STILL posting "articles" with 15 pages containing two or three sentences per page?

    Even then, the link is to the last page. Here's a slightly better page [uwec.edu].

    Anyway, on-topic, do you really want to work for a company that requires you to know your legal status prior to a job interview? Discrimination is disgusting, and as much as it may hurt, you're better off being knocked back for the job than having it present 40 hours a week.

    People need to feed their families, but degrading one's self respect by accepting work where it happens is only inviting more trouble.

    • Anyway, on-topic, do you really want to work for a company that requires you to know your legal status prior to a job interview?

      Well...yes. And why wouldn't I already know that? How is an interviewer asking the question discrimination? What am I missing here?

    • by A nonymous Coward (7548) on Friday March 30, 2012 @01:19AM (#39519433)

      I wish interviewers would ask the questions they want and ignore those guidelines. I want to know as much about the company and its practices before I take a job, and if they stick to bland questions, I lose a lot of information. If they think my race or religion or political views are important, then I want to give them smartass upsetting blasphemous answers before I walk out of the interview, not after I have had the job for a few days.

      I really REALLY wish the government would stop trying to help me with its one-size-fits-all-politically-correct-thinking policies. I have a direct stake in the outcome of my decisions, and where I make mistakes, I learn for the future, unlike government bureaucrats.

  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:07PM (#39517361) Journal
    This article is just the sort of government intrusion that makes me never want to hire anyone. Freedom of contract used to mean something in this country. No more. So I'll answer my own phones.

    As Peter Schiff has said [slashdot.org], hiring someone in the United States is one of the most expensive and riskiest things a business owner can do.

    I'm sure you'll all mod this "-1, I disagree with you," but I am speaking very honestly. Keep throwing taxes and regulations at something, and you'll get less of it. Like jobs.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:11PM (#39517391)

      Try hiring someone in Germany. Or better yet, try firing them. No wonder the German economy is doing so poorly compared to the United States.

      • Say what????? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:03PM (#39517899) Homepage

        Try hiring someone in Germany. Or better yet, try firing them. No wonder the German economy is doing so poorly compared to the United States.

        What? Germany's growth is at 2.9% Unemployment is at 5.9% Youth ( Now, we in the US have the following: 8.3% unemployment rate. As of July 2011, the youth unemployment rate was 18%. The debt % of its GPD is at 103.3%

        Where the US leads Germany is in GDP per capita (Germany: $37,935. US: $48,147) and in America's post-HS education (in particular with grad-level education) and R&D. Where the US and Germany seem to meet is the rising level of incoming inequality.

        But considering all other indicators (growth, unemployment debt/GDP ratios), your comment is completely off the mark. As an American, I wish we had those numbers.

        • Re:Say what????? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by lee1026 (876806) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:35PM (#39518185)

          I would argue that GDP per capita is more important than unemployment in terms of economic indicators. To see why this is the case, consider the following policy - raise taxes by around 2% GDP and use the money to hire all the unemployed people to dig holes and fill them back in at minimum wage. This will drive unemployment to zero and have a small (and probably negative) impact on GDP. If people truly consider unemployment to be more important than GDP, you would expect for this to be a very popular policy. But it obviously isn't (or else you would hear about serious politicans suggesting it) so people obviously care more about GDP.

          • Re:Say what????? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:03PM (#39518439) Homepage

            I would argue that GDP per capita is more important than unemployment in terms of economic indicators. To see why this is the case, consider the following policy - raise taxes by around 2% GDP and use the money to hire all the unemployed people to dig holes and fill them back in at minimum wage. This will drive unemployment to zero and have a small (and probably negative) impact on GDP. If people truly consider unemployment to be more important than GDP, you would expect for this to be a very popular policy. But it obviously isn't (or else you would hear about serious politicans suggesting it) so people obviously care more about GDP.

            Exactly. It isn't (which is a shame, for there is nothing in capitalism or free market ideas that would preclude such a policy.)

            Also, it's not like we are comparing the American GDP vs, say, the one from my country of origin (Nicaragua, the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with an annual $3,185 GDP per capita, 6.6% the US GPD/capita, a whooping 93% differential.) The German per capita GDP is about 78% that of the US, a 22% differential.

            Then you have to consider the price of the common basket of goods, and other quality indicators like overall health, health coverage, public transportation and infrastructure, the widespread use of technology (where Japan knocks the shit out of Germany and/or the US for example.)

            With those things combined, the GDP/capita difference between the US and Germany is/might not be as significant as it might be. I would argue that having a greater GDP per capita is important only if, say, the difference is half an order of magnitude or more (and/or combined with severe income/social inequality as found in, say, Latin America.)

            The reality, a sad reality, is that we are the most powerful and richest country in the world, and yet we are lagging in every indicator (except military might and academic research) compared to other developed countries with smaller GDP per capita and we have the greatest economic disparity of any developed nation. This status quo is unacceptable.

            • by lee1026 (876806) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:22PM (#39518573)

              Hmm, you can ding the US on a lot of things, but I think there is quite a few indicators that we do quite well on. American homes are the largest in the world, the American transportation system allows for people to move large distances both quickly and cheaply. A passenger-mile by private automobile cost around 40 cents in the US, which is far cheaper than any first world public transportation system that comes to mind, especially when you factor in income.

              I would argue that America is quite a nice place to live if you like large houses and driving everywhere. In other words, America is extremely well suited to the average American.

          • Re:Say what????? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mbkennel (97636) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:18PM (#39518535)

            I would argue that median income of working age people (including unemployed) is an important measure.

          • Re:Say what????? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday March 30, 2012 @04:09AM (#39520101) Journal

            When we consider German GDP per capita versus US GDP per capita, we must remember that the average German works a 35 hour week and has 6 weeks paid vacation, vs the average American who works a 40 hour week and has only 2 weeks paid vacation. Germans nominally have a 1610 hour work year, vs a 2000 hour work year for the aveage American. 37935/1610 = avg. $23.56 per hour, while the US is only slightly higher per hour, $24.07. I suspect the Germans have a far higher quality of life for their money.

    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:18PM (#39517455)

      Yes because the thing you need to know about someone is if they're a homosexual Muslim from Norway to do a job.

      Please.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TranquilVoid (2444228)

        Yes, strictly you don't, but the smaller the company the more important it is to get someone who fits the office culture, and religous, poltical and even sexual orientation can have a massive impact. Nevertheless, most governments have said, mostly rightly in my opinion, that an office culture that cannot accomodate these things is inappropriate.

        • Hey, fuck you. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:57PM (#39517841)

          Yes, strictly you don't, but the smaller the company the more important it is to get someone who fits the office culture, and religous, poltical and even sexual orientation can have a massive impact.

          You're wrong because most of that should not even come up at the office.

          If it is an issue then the owner needs to be informed on the realities of operating in a multi-cultural nation.

    • by Sebastopol (189276) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:19PM (#39517463) Homepage

      "I'm sure you'll all mod this "-1, I disagree with you," but I am speaking very honestly. Keep throwing taxes and regulations at something, and you'll get less of it. Like jobs."

      There is so much fail in that logic, it boggles the mind. Regulation and taxes have been increasing for a 100+ years and the economy has boomed exponentially. Granted, most of the boom in the 2000's was due to UNREGULATED BANKERS, but your statement is almost 100% ignorant of history.

    • by Sprouticus (1503545) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:21PM (#39517473)

      It is a shame that these laws have to be in place. It is a shame that people were so vile and disgusting that they decided to discriminate based upon age or marital status or a host of other reasons. But they did, so now YOU have to deal with is. Suck it up and deal. Dont get mad at the government, get mad at the morons who decided to abuse their power as employer.

      The thing about people like you that shocks me no matter how many times I see them post is that you don't seem to realize that most of these regulations were created for a REASON. People don't (usually) make laws in a vacuum. I would be more than happy to discuss how we can regulate BETTER and SMARTER, but to imply that regulations are evil in and of themselves is to ignore the entire first 150 years of the industrial revolution.

      • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:52PM (#39518339)
        The people I'm angry with are those who consider it acceptable to use government power to restrict the activities of any person or organization that is not actively harming or cheating someone else. Refusing to deal with someone is an individual's absolute right, and those who wish to force me are my enemies.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:22PM (#39517489)

      So what's your solution to the Facebook password problem? Allow employers to investigate every detail of every applicant until they find something wrong with them? If you let that happen, then employers would be more invasive to minorities and people they don't want to hire (based on race) to the point that they found a reason - any reason - that the applicant shouldn't be hired.

      As an employee, there are certain privacy lines that should not be crossed by my employer. If I post pictures of my wild parties during the workweek and let the public see them on my facebook page that's my own fault (and if the employer wants to go looking for/at those photos they are more than welcome to), but why should my privacy be intimately invaded in pursuit of a job?

      Furthermore, you could have employers that dig deep and hard enough to find all sorts of blackmail material and then blackmail their employees to work long hours for low wages and never leave or complain.

      The balance of power in a potential employer/potential employee situation is heavily tilted in the potential employers favor because presumably the potential employee either needs the job or wants it bad enough to switch away from their current job. And that unbalanced power has to be rebalanced by the law because there are asshole employers out there that would love to screw over their employees.

      I understand that hiring people is a risky venture, but unfortunately that's part of the risk you take on when you decide to hire somebody - that you might have to fire them (and pay unemployment) if they don't work out. They take on the risk that they may not work out, but it is much less of a risk for them because they do not have to pay unemployment compensation, they get unemployment compensation.

      There really isn't much that can be done about this situation without upsetting the applecart one way or another.

    • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:28PM (#39517527) Homepage

      Ahem! As a business owner too, I'm glad there are regulations in place to level the playing field for everyone. If not being legally allowed to discriminate based on irrelevant information causes your business to suffer, you were doing it wrong in the first place, and I'm quite happy to replace you in the market. I work with people on 5 continents, and all are at the top of their game. If you base your staffing decisions on whoever seems "whitest" or worships the same imaginary friend in the sky, you are severely limiting your ability to compete in the global market.

      Hiring is expensive because it is a serious relationship that must not be taken lightly. If it were any cheaper, there would be absolutely no job security because bosses like you could hire and fire people on a whim. Do you really expect an employee to perform well if they're under constant threat of losing their job ? You need to look beyond the tip of your nose and realize you need them as much as they need you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kat M. (2602097)

      Actually, I'd argue it is more expensive in most other countries (not counting those that allow child labor and sweatshops).

      The problem is that employees are human beings, not pieces of furniture that don't have any needs. They need a place to live, they need food, they need healthcare, and often not just for themselves but for their spouse and children, too (for many people it's not even possible anymore to support a family on a single income). That doesn't come cheap if you don't enjoy living at the pover

    • by JosephTX (2521572) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:31PM (#39517553)
      I don't see how "sexual orientation" or "marital status" are important questions. Then again, I'm one of those crazy people who don't see how "what's your facebook password?" is a relevant question either. Being told you can't discriminate based on private details must be a horrible intrusion on your freedoms. Also, what Schiff failed to mention is that the US is ranked #4 in the world in ease of doing business (after Singapore, Hong Kong, and New Zealand) according to the World Bank. I can't imagine why, what with our unique tax system that lets multi-billion-dollar companies pay a smaller percentage in taxes than their bottom-line employees, or our largely ineffective regulatory agencies which are constantly being neutered by Congress.
    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:35PM (#39517595) Homepage

      I don't mind any of the regulations discussed in the article.

      I keep my interview questions focused entirely on whether the person will do a good job. That's what I really care about, not whether the person has a wife and kids, whether they're Irish or Turkish or Chinese, or what religion they are. I'm hiring the person to code, or answer phones, or clean the bathroom, not choosing them to be my best buddy. I like many of my coworkers and subordinates and bosses personally, but when it comes down to it it's a business relationship, not a personal relationship, and I have no problem hiring somebody I personally dislike if they're going to be profitable for the company to hire.

      Here's the difference in questions between a legal interview and an illegal interview. Ok:
      "I see you've worked in C++ on a variety of platforms. Did you ever use Qt, and if so what did you think its good and bad points were?"
      "This job involves moving boxes weighing about 50 pounds to upper shelves. Would you be able to do that?" (obviously, only if that is what the job involves)
      "This job requires that you work on Sunday mornings. Will that work for you?" (again, only if you actually need them to work on Sunday mornings)
      "What's your approach to prioritizing tasks when multiple people come by with urgent requests?"
      "Are you legally allowed to work in the United States?"

      Not OK:
      "Do you like hip-hop?" (noticing the candidate is black, for a position not in the music industry)
      "How many kids do you have?"
      "Are you married?"
      "Could I get a recommendation from your pastor?" (unless you're hiring for a religious institution)
      "Are you currently on any medications?"

      Notice that the first set is all about the economic transaction - I'm considering hiring you to do XYZ, I need to make sure you can do XYZ. The second set is all about things that have nothing to do with whether they can do XYZ.

      • by King_TJ (85913)

        Absolutely.... but I think most of your points will fall on deaf ears with the small business owner, or the project manager type in "middle management" who is tasked with hiring a person or a few people to form a group he/she is directly in charge of. Why? Because in the former case, there really is a blurring of the lines between professional and personal. The small business owner most likely only got the business off the ground and to the point where another hire is needed by sacrificing a lot of personal

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      As Peter Schiff has said, hiring someone in the United States is one of the most expensive and riskiest things a business owner can do.

      Then I guess discriminating against someone in the hiring process is the second most expensive and riskiest thing a business owner can do?

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      Also as a small business owner, the article is wrong. I can ask you any question I want in an interview. What I cannot do is discriminate against you based on your responses. If I am discriminating, I am screwed. If I simply want to see how people react to the question... it is fair game. Of course, someone could file a claim, and I might need to prove that they were not discriminated against for their response.

      From EEOC.gov:

      Although state and federal equal opportunity laws do not clearly forbid employe

  • by Catiline (186878) <akrumbach@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:12PM (#39517399) Homepage Journal
    When the article about the Facebook checking company appeared, I determined in advance what I would say to any prospective employer asking me to grant them access to Facebook:

    "Ahem. I do not have any public social networking accounts. If I did, I regret what you are asking would violate their terms of service, and I would have to respond in the negative."

    That would be literal, even down to cleanly enunciating the word "ahem", and even if I had been recruited via a social networking contact. I'd probably try to make it sound stilted, or look at my cupped hand like I was reading from a cue card, to make it painfully clear this is a prepared response.

    • by guspasho (941623)

      Furthermore, it's almost certain the prospective employer wants you to agree to certain terms of employment, particularly secrecy if you work in any sort of computer industry these days. If you violated your Facebook terms of use for them, why should they trust you not to violate their terms for someone else?

      That was going to be part of my response if I was ever in that situation.

    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:09PM (#39517963)

      Asking for your Facebook password is practically the same as asking forbidden interview questions.

      What happens when the HR person looks at your page and sees that you're participating in the setup of inter-racial gay Jewish recognition events?

      Do they really want the risk of having to defend themselves in court against charges of discrimination when you are not hired?

      There is a reason that they avoid certain questions. Those questions can land them in court. Demanding access to your personal life can be the same as asking those questions. With the same results.

    • by IBitOBear (410965)

      "I would no more disclose the personal information of third parties to you, than I would disclose the information you expect to entrust to me as your employee to a third party. Since, clearly, the material sent to me via social networking would constitute the former, that isn't going to happen. How, since we are on the subject, could you ever trust someone who would turn over sensitive information like an account password to a third party like that? Woudn't you be afraid that they would then give the interv

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:17PM (#39517445)

    The questions posted are stuff an interview gets anyway, because every job application has a form to fill asking for race, religion, etc. It supposedly is optional, but in reality, if an applicant bins that form, their resume gets binned.

    I've been asked on interviews worse questions:

    "How many piercings or tattoos do you have?" Apparently, any is grounds for termination at some places.

    "How fast can you get to work from your place at both wee hours of the morning as well as rush hour?" The place graded people on a tier system -- people who were lower tiers were people who were not in the center of town or had to commute through a main, overcrowded highway.

    "What kind of car do you drive?" I've had two places where they considered the choice of vehicle as part of the hiring process. One place viewed anyone driving anything but a hybrid subcompact as contemptible, and anathema to their "green" image. Another place viewed anything but European sedans as "too pedestrian for our parking lot." I even overheard the interviewer saying, "hire the BMW guy, beemer drivers have organizational skills."

    "Do you pack?" Having a concealed carry will help you get a job at some places because it means that you already went through some criminal screening.

    The best one was a question/statement: "Do you have a CISSP or a TS/SCI clearance? If not, GTFO. We don't hire garbage who can't prove themselves."

  • Full article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:19PM (#39517465)
    Here's the full article, just because it was split up over 15 pages. 15 pages.

    During a recent poll on interviews, we received an alarming number of reports from people who had been asked highly inappropriate questions during an interview. We decided to take this opportunity to review questionable interview topics.
    This slideshow, however, is not comprehensive, nor is it a replacement for a legal consultation. At the end of this slideshow we will provide you with important contact information to use if you feel you have been discriminated against.

    Topic: Race
    15.0% of readers had been asked about this
    20.7% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal
    Details: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal make hiring decisions based on race or perceptions of race.
    However, this law only applies to companies with 15 or more employees.

    Topic: Gender
    14.6% of readers had been asked about this
    29.0% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal
    Details: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also made it illegal make hiring decisions based on gender.
    Again, this law only applies to companies with 15 or more employees.

    Topic: Religion
    13.7% of readers had been asked about this 9.8% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal
    Details: An employer may not ask you about your religious beliefs, what holidays you celebrate, or what religious institution you belong to.
    However, this law only applies to companies with 15 or more employees, and religious institutions are exempt.

    Topic: Marital Status
    53.9% of readers had been asked about this
    18.3% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal (in some states)
    Details: In 20 U.S. states, an employer may not ask you if you are married, widowed, divorced, intend to be married, are in a committed relationship or how many times you have been married. They may not make decisions based on your marital status or their perception of your marital status.

    Topic: Family Status
    49.2% of readers had been asked about this
    22.3% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal
    Details: Employers may not ask you about your family or plans for your family. They may not ask about the number or age of your children. They may not ask if you intend to have children. And they may not ask about the living arrangements of your children. It is even illegal for employers to refuse to hire a visibly pregnant woman based on her pregnancy.
    However, this law only applies to companies with 15 or more employees.

    Topic: Age
    36.3% of readers had been asked about this
    41.7% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal (in some cases)
    Details: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits discrimination against potential employees over the age of 40.
    The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prevents agencies receiving federal funding from discriminating against potential employees on the basis of age - for all age groups.
    It is also important to note that minors have certain restrictions on the types of work, work times and number of hours per week they are allowed to work. This may cause them to be excluded from certain types of employment.

    Topic: Physical Disabilities
    22.8% of readers had been asked about this
    8.9% felt discriminated against on this topic
    Topic is: Illegal (with exceptions)
    Details: A company may not discriminate against a qualified person based on certain physical disabilities. An employer may require a physical examination of an employee but only after making a job offer and only if all employees are subject to the same examination.
    However, this may not apply to companies with fewer than 15 employees.

    Topic: Ethnic Background
    18.4% of readers had been asked about this
    16.1% felt discriminated against on this topic

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:25PM (#39517501)

    I answered, yes !! She said, let me see !! I said, no way !! She said, way !! I pulled it out !! I was asked to leave !! This was an insurance company !!

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:26PM (#39517515) Homepage

    I was asked my nationality in an interview once. I clarified the question with the interviewer, then told him I felt it was inappropriate and not relevant. He insisted, so I thanked him for his time, got up and left.

    I don't want to work for a company where such things are pressing enough for the interviewer to feel like he needs to address it.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:43PM (#39517687) Homepage

      See, that's too nice a response. Now, I'll grant you that I've never had to face these kinds of questions, because I'm a fairly young straight white guy who can look reasonably square and business-y when I need to, but I do know people who have, and this is my advice to them.

      The correct answer to that question is "So you are aware, that question is illegal under current US employment law." You can then choose whether you want to take a hard line, and follow it up with either "Even though you can't use it in your hiring decisions, I'm mostly of _____ ancestry." or "If you absolutely insist on knowing this information, I see no reason to continue this interview, and will report you to the EEOC."

      • by grasshoppa (657393) <`gro.oc-onpt' `ta' `ydenneks'> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:54PM (#39517805) Homepage

        Well, when I established that a) I had heard the question correctly and b) they wanted to know even though I mentioned it was inappropriate and irrelevant, I determined that I didn't want to work for the place. Threatening wouldn't have accomplished anything in my favor, so I classified that as a pointless option.

        I could have reported them, I suppose. And probably should have. I just didn't feel it was overly critical; if that's how they want to run their business ( from the looks of it, straight in to the ground ), that's their choice. I ended up finding a smaller employer where my benefits package is far more substantial, so everything worked out in my favor. :)

  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:37PM (#39517621)

    "I'm sorry, that information is classified."

  • Turning the tables (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:38PM (#39517633) Journal

    Once, in an interview, I went through a marathon process of several managers and supervisors.

    My last interview was with Ana (...sigh...) - quite possibly the hottest woman I've ever known - if not ever seen. The interview went normally (for me - blatant truth has always been the best course of action for me) - and when it was apparently over I was asked "Do you have any questions for me?"

    Perhaps that was the wrong question to ask a person who had only recently got over the agony that is divorce. I answered with the most pressing question on my mind - "Would you like to go out to dinner?"

    Unfortunately, she wasn't wearing her wedding ring that day, or I wouldn't have asked (really, that's just tacky). After a very hot blush, she explained her marital status and I became a little embarrassed. She said she was flattered...

    That job was great for a little over a year until the company moved to Korea and I moved to Texas. Ana's assistant Christina was quite possibly the second hottest women I've ever known - or seen. The scenery was incredible!

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:48PM (#39517733) Homepage Journal

    "That is not an acceptable question to ask me, thank you for your time", then I walk.

    Even if i "needed" the job, i wouldn't be able to work there.

  • Illegal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlameCanada (176521) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:54PM (#39517799)

    The article is pure bunk - none of these questions are illegal. Discrimination based on on answers to these questions is illegal, but not asking them.

    As an interviewer, these are questions which should never be asked, because they leave you open to an accusation of discrimination. That doesn't make them illegal.

    Comprehensive discussion and advice on the topic: http://www.manager-tools.com/2011/06/answering-illegal-interview-questions-part-1

  • by lanner (107308) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @08:55PM (#39517811)

    Let's name some names here. I don't have any particular beef with this company or individual. It's just what came to mind when the question came up.

    Back in 2006 or so, I was looking for a new job and pegged an interview with a company called 41st Parameter. They were an financial anti-fraud company. Kind of like credit card fraud detection sort of stuff.

    I had an interview with Ori Eisen, their founder. He didn't seem too terribly interested in my job-related abilities so much as my background and personal family situation. He asked about my marital status, parents, current family situation, where I had lived previously, personal life stuff. He focused in on ethnicity and all kinds of shit you just don't do. He went there. I seem to remember that he might of been Israeli and asked me something about my ethnicity related to that, but I don't recall exactly. I just remember that he basically was not interested in my technical abilities and just wanted to know about my family background and personal details.

    In summary the guy when into HR no-no territory.

    I obliged the man on some questions where I just didn't mind, but I refused to answer other questions. That seemed to piss him off. He was a very forceful and fast-paced guy. He wanted to know all about me but wasn't willing to answer any of my very basic questions about the company.

    After that first interview, I wasn't interested in the job and I ended up working somewhere else soon after.

    I can't say that I had another interview where I had been asked such inappropriate and career-irrelevant questions.

  • Religion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:05PM (#39517917) Journal

    I can think of only one time it's ever come up.

    I was doing contract work. I was just finishing up one when a headhunter I worked with left a message on my machine. "I think I have a really interesting contract job for you. I have only one question: Are you jewish? Give me a call."

    I have to admit--I was intrigued. So I gave him a call.

    Turns out that the contract position would require travel to Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure if Saudi Arabia will issue you a visa if you are jewish, making it difficult for a jewish person to complete the obligations of the contract. Since I'm not jewish, it wasn't really an issue for me, so I ended up taking the contract.

    Jews that I have told that story to since then have pretty much said, "Yeah, I wouldn't take the contract. Even if they let me into the country, who knows what would happen?"

    • Re:Religion (Score:4, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:40PM (#39518225)

      Turns out that the contract position would require travel to Saudi Arabia.

      Some middle eastern countries will not even let you in the country if they can see you visited Israel - regardless of your heritage. Which is why Israel will not stamp your passport if you request it.

  • by hessian (467078) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:11PM (#39517983) Homepage Journal

    I don't want to work for anyone who doesn't want to work with me. That is a bad relationship which will end in nothing but misery.

    I don't care why they don't want to work with me. Pounding square pegs into round holes is a stupid idea.

    • by muridae (966931)

      I don't want to work for anyone who doesn't want to work with me. That is a bad relationship which will end in nothing but misery.

      I don't care why they don't want to work with me. Pounding square pegs into round holes is a stupid idea.

      So you are white and male? And don't see how these laws are meant to protect you as well as me? My answers to some of those questions would get me lynched in towns near-by, and since they don't affect my ability to perform a job, I'd like to keep the option of working available.

  • by enjar (249223) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @09:20PM (#39518053) Homepage

    In an interview, you only have so many minutes to make a decision on the job. Most of these questions are just a waste of time, as well as insulting to the candidate. It should also make the interviewer feel uncomfortable, as they have likely been advised of this by HR before they are allowed to talk to any potential candidate. People should be spending time figuring out if the person is a good fit with the skills, as well as someone you actually want to spend eight or more hours a day with.

    I cannot think of valid questions to ask about race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or marital status that might apply to any job I've ever hired for. There are valid questions regarding family status, physical disability, country of origin, and height/weight. But you don't ask them that way. You ask them in terms of the job you are hiring for. Even then, you have to keep in mind if the person could do the job with a reasonable affordance for whatever it might be.

    Examples:
    For family status, the employer might be really asking if you can work late, work nights, weekends, travel extensively or if you can be on call to respond to something. These are all legitimate questions and they have nothing to do with the person's family status. Some people with kids don't want to travel, others it's not a big deal.

    Physical disability: If a job requires carrying 75 lbs of equipment over broken terrain in the middle of the night, then that's going to exclude some people. But if someone in a wheelchair needs a desk that's five inches higher, that's not exactly hard to accommodate.

    Country of origin: What you are probably asking is if you are authorized to work in this country for any employer, or if you have a security clearance, or if you have US citizenship. It doesn't matter how you became a citizen (born or naturalized), but if you must work with ITAR data, for example, there you are.

    Height/Weight: Similar to the disability question, if the job requires crawling through openings that are a certain diameter, you can't exceed that. Same for operating some kind of equipment that only allows a maximum height. Or climbing up a ladder that only supports a certain weight.

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @10:55PM (#39518807)

    But we can't ask about weight, race, sexual orientation or age.

    Huh?

  • Yep, I'm an American (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:07PM (#39518905) Homepage Journal

    I'm a n-th (n > 7 or so) generation American of European ancestry. I had an interview with, ahem, a major search company. In one of the sessions, I estimated a short distance in meters. The shocked interviewer flipped quickly through my resume and hiring notes:

    Him: Wait, are you an American?
    Me, very surprised: Ummm, yeah... does that matter?
    Him: It's just that you used the Metric system.
    Me: I minored in physics.
    Him: Oh.... [scribbling]

    I don't think my citizenship status affected the eventual hiring decision, but that really caught me off guard. I wondered how that same question would've felt if I wasn't born and raised here.

  • by tverbeek (457094) on Thursday March 29, 2012 @11:08PM (#39518911) Homepage

    I'm not even going to pretend to read TFA. The summary refers to sexual orientation as something that employers aren't allowed to ask, but in most states in the US, that's simply not true. Apparently some idiot doesn't understand the difference between his state's laws and the laws in other states or federal law. Or just doesn't know jack shit about employment law, and is making assumptions. Guessing.

    Under US federal law, sexual orientation is not a protected trait. The law offers no protection whatsoever to someone who is gay/lesbian/bi/transgender or who is perceived as such. Many states do offer that kind of protection. But many do not. Some cities offer protection. Most do not. An interviewer can ask, and if they don't like your answer, they can deny you a job. Or an employer can fire you from one you already have. There is no penalty for it. If this strikes you as unfair, maybe you should get off your ass and tell your Senator and Congressperson, so maybe they'll feel some pressure to pass ENDA someday. Thanks.

    Once upon a time when I was looking for work, and collecting unemployment benefits, I was "this close" to a formal job offer from an organization which I knew had problems with gay people. To protect my benefits from the consequences of getting hired and then fired again, I told the HR director that I was gay, and that I was involved in publicly advocating for the rights of gay people, such as being interviewed briefly on TV about it the year before (which is why I had to tell her), hoping that by being up-front about it, I'd inoculate myself from unpleasant surprises down the road. She got very quiet, and the next communication I received was a terse form letter saying that they were not offering me the job. And that's when they're nice about it. I got to collect unemployment benefits for several more months while I found another place that would hire me.

    Most employers don't ask. At least not directly. But I've learned that, unless I am willing to suppress any hint that I'm gay (e.g. mentioning that I am unmarried at my age), my employment options are limited. At least they aren't allowed to ask if I'm married or what church I go to, which might give me away, but I've had to go from "activist" to "passivist", effectively going back into the closet, because I can't afford the luxury of being an openly gay member of the workforce.

    So to answer the question: I'm rarely asked illegal questions. But when I'm asked legal ones that I know will result in me not getting hired... I lie.

  • It is NOT illegal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrismcb (983081) on Friday March 30, 2012 @03:12AM (#39519837) Homepage
    Holy cow, didn't we JUST cover this? It is NOT ILLEGAL to ask a prospective questions. You can ask them pretty much anything. BUT if you do ask them questions concerning race, religion, age, sex, and a few other things, and you don't hire them. You open yourself up to a lawsuit. So rather than risk it, it is recommended you don't ask these sort of questions.
    Of course it makes it difficult sometimes. We were told not to ask where someone lived (could indicate living situation as in living in the poor part of town. But when I used to walk a candidate back to my office, I used to talk about the weather. And I liked to know where they lived, so I could compare our weather to what they are used to.
    BUT IT IS NOT ILLEGAL! Just strongly recommended you don't ask certain questions.

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