Jim Porter: What you can’t ask during employment interviews | SierraSun.com

Jim Porter: What you can’t ask during employment interviews

We all know that when interviewing candidates to hire for employment, there are very few questions you can ask and lots you can’t. Avoiding discrimination is key.

While I’m certainly no expert in employment law, or law in general, I thought I would jump in here and try and help – questions you can and can’t ask.

Now, don’t take this too seriously…


Yes: “Are you willing to work for peanuts like the rest of the numbskulls at this company?” Perfectly legal.

Yes: “Were you born?” Indeed, you may ask, but may not add “under the sun,” nor may you ask for a birthdate, and you can’t ask how much the interviewee weighed at birth.

No: “Why are you so old?” This clever question pretends to avoid the improper question of “How old are you?”, but suggests age as a factor in the hiring so don’t try it.

No: “How old are your kids?” Again, you’re not precisely asking whether the applicant has kids, but really you are, so don’t.

No: “When did you stop beating your wife (husband)?” This is the age old classic which if you answer, it means you admit beating your spouse, but it is inappropriate for a job interview or any other situation — unless you’re in court.

No: “I see you’re wearing a hat, are you bald?” I’m a little sensitive to this question so I’m going to rule it out.

No: “Are you willing to work 10 hours a day, six days a week with no overtime – and keep it our little secret?” If you’re asked this question, just walk out of the room.

No: “If you’re asked by your boss in a very polite fashion whether you will take his/her laundry to the drycleaners, will you?” Hit the door.

No: “How many times have you sued your former bosses?” Every employer probably wants to know the answer to this question but it can’t be asked.

No: “Are you a member of the Communist party or any other party, in fact, do you like to party?” Supreme Court cases say questions about your party preference are off limits. A suggested answer: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds to do so might incriminate me.” Your prospective employer will be impressed.

Yes: “Can you type 40 words a minute on a standard typewriter?” I see no problems.

No: “What is your mother tongue?” Of course not, but who uses that term these days?

No: “You look fit for coming up on 65 years, am I right?” No way.

No: “Do you ever smoke pot?” Answer: “No, I can honestly say I do not smoke pot.” (To himself/herself, “I use a vaporizer, man.”)

No: “Would you work for Jim Porter (Simon)?” The door.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at porter@portersimon.com or http://www.portersimon.com.

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