While there may be many bits of information you would like to know about a candidate for a position you’re hiring, you need to be extremely cautious in asking certain types of questions. Some questions, while not technically illegal, could open you up to a discrimination suit. It’s better to avoid those kinds of questions completely, and find other ways to learn about the candidate. Stay away from any questions on the following subjects:
- Race, ethnicity, or color
- Gender or sex
- Country of national origin or birth place
- Marital or family status or pregnancy
Is it helpful to know some of the above information? Maybe, but better to approach it by asking questions that provide information about their potential job performance. Here are some examples of questions you can ask, that will help you learn how they might perform.
- Are you at least 21 years old? Since this is a requirement to work in the industry (assuming they are handling cannabis products), it’s okay to ask.
- Is there is any reason you could not pass a background check? Okay to ask this if the background check is required for the position.
- Are you able to fulfill the physical responsibilities of the job?
- Are you able to occasionally work later hours than scheduled? This may tell you if they have children or other obligations outside work.
- Are there any days that you cannot work? This may tell you if they have religious affiliations but the real reason to ask it is just that, to find out what kind of schedule they can work.
What’s important is to learn enough about the candidate to know if they can do the job but not to use discriminatory information you may inadvertently uncover to decide whether or not to hire. Any indication that you have used discriminatory info in hiring decisions puts yourself and your company in jeopardy. Besides that, it’s just the wrong thing to do.
I like to ask people what they like to do when they’re not working. It is not an illegal question and oftentimes you will find out information about them that is useful, like they belong to a cannabis advocacy organization or like to play softball. Not that you would use this information for hiring (unless you want to start a company softball team) but it may give you further insight into what motivates this person and how they might fit in with the rest of your staff.
Use the interview questions to gain as much information about the candidate as possible, but be careful in gathering info on potentially discriminatory subjects. Keep yourself out of hot water and make your candidate feel that you are interested in them and not their demographic.