Interview questions seem wrong

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Pattie Hunt Sinacole shares some guidelines on what can be requested (and what can’t)

Ask the Job Doc. boston.com

Q: During a recent interview, I was asked some unusual questions. I was asked “what country I came from” and “if I liked children”. These questions were not relevant to the position. I never got a job offer from the company, but I can’t help but think they didn’t want to hire me in the first place.

A: Thank you for sharing this concern. It seems that these questions were illegal, which is unfortunate.

Employers are struggling to hire and retain talent. Many leaders within organizations have not been trained on what to ask and what not to ask. Hiring talent effectively includes asking appropriate, employment-related, and legal questions during the interview process.

Questions about country of origin and/or ancestry should be avoided. Supplementary questions about children should be avoided. It sounds like the interviewer was trying to get you to talk about kids, not really asking if you had any. Sneaky, unethical or ignorant, or a combination! If a hiring manager is concerned about scheduling and vacation issues, questions about scheduling and/or anticipated vacation requests are allowed. For example, it is acceptable to ask, “Are you able to work Saturdays in December since it is our busiest month?” Or, “Do you have any holidays planned before the end of the year?” The focus should be on business, productivity issues and scheduling challenges. It is permissible to question you about your ability to travel. Questions about the number of sick or sick days in the past year are also illegal. All applicants should be asked these questions if they are concerns.

Applicants should not be asked about US citizenship unless it is a job requirement. Some government jobs (or government contractor jobs) require US citizenship. However, most jobs do not require US citizenship. Instead, an interviewer may ask you whether or not you can legally work in the United States. Many applicants can legally work in the United States but may not be US citizens. Companies should ensure that candidates are able to work legally in the United States, but they should not show a preference one way or the other.

Sometimes companies don’t realize that their hiring managers represent the company in such a poor and unprofessional manner. Sounds like you wouldn’t have been happy there even if you had been offered a job. Sometimes it makes sense for a candidate to discontinue the interview process with a company, if the company is incompatible with a candidate’s values.

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