Labor and Employment

Asking the Right Questions

Choosing the right employee for a job can be a difficult choice. You try to determine the strengths and weaknesses of potential employees during their job interviews. How they answer your questions will have a great influence on whether they're hired.

Do you know the right questions to ask? There are certain questions you can't legally ask during job interviews. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) restricts questions related to disabilities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has important information about ADA and your responsibilities. Here are some examples of questions you can and can't legally ask during job interviews.

Questions You Can't Legally Ask

Do you have a disability that'll interfere with your work? You can't ask questions related to disabilities. This question directly asks the potential employee about any disabilities. You can only ask questions related to disabilities after the employee has been given a conditional job offer.

Do you need reasonable accommodations to perform any job functions? You can't ask this question since it'll likely uncover information about any disabilities.

How many sick days do you normally take on a yearly basis? This question is off limits since it likely will uncover information about any disabilities.

What prescription drugs are you currently taking? You can't ask a question about legal drug use since it'll likely lead to disability information.

Can you tell me about your workers' compensation history? You can't ask potential employees about their workers' compensation history since it'll lead to information about job-related injuries and disabilities.

Can you perform all major life activities, such as walking, standing and lifting? This question can't be asked since it'll likely lead to disability information.

Questions You Can Legally Ask

Can you perform the duties of the job? You can always ask potential employees whether they're capable of performing all job functions.

Show or tell me how you would perform the job. You can ask potential employees to demonstrate to you how they'll precisely do the job if they're hired.

Will you need reasonable accommodation for the hiring process? Job interviews can involve multiple parts. Job demonstrations and timed-tests are just some examples of what applicants may have to go through to be hired. It's okay to ask whether reasonable accommodations are needed to apply for a job.

Will you have any problems meeting our attendance requirements? You have the right to ask whether a potential employee will have any problems meeting the attendance requirements you have set for all your employees.

Do you currently take illegal drugs? You can ask potential employees if they're taking illegal drugs since it's not likely to lead to information about disabilities.

Do you have the necessary certifications and licenses to perform all job duties? This question is relevant and isn't likely to uncover disability information.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Are there other federal and state laws that restrict the type of questions I can ask potential employees?
  • When may an employer ask a job applicant about his or her disabilities?
  • Can an employer legally ask a job applicant in an interview to perform a job-related action, such as carrying a 30 lb. weight?
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