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5 Questions You Didn't Know You Couldn't Ask in an Interview

5 interview questions off limits

Interviews are a critical component for any growing small business. Adding more staff members to your venture allows you to increase the output of your brand, expanding both its size and reach. 

You've been on the other side of the interview before, but have you ever conducted one yourself? If not, don't fear! These sessions are invaluable, as they allow you the opportunity to more about the personalities and skill sets of potential employees.

You can ask about their job history, their successes and their hobbies, but did you know there are many questions you legally cannot ask during an interview? According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, 1 in 5 employers unknowingly asks an illegal question during a job interview.

Your intentions may be honorable, but shy away from the following questions next time you're speaking with a job candidate.

1. How old are you?

There are many laws in place to prevent age discrimination in the workplace. Asking this question during an interview can set your company up for a lawsuit, especially if you don't hire the candidate in question. For example, if you have an older applicant who you declined because he had zero experience in the industry - but you asked him his age in the interview - he may think he was declined because of his age. Avoid this concern altogether by refraining from asking this question during your interview, even if you're merely curious!

2. Are you married?

Unlike an applicant's age, his or her marital status may come up organically in the conversation. The person may mention a husband or wife - but at no point should you ask for more details about a candidate's martial life. If the person is married, he or she may think the outside-of-work commitment may hamper his or her chances of a job offer. Conversely, if a person is asked if he or she is single, it may be interpreted as a reflection on personal work ethic. 

3. Do you have any children?

Similarly, asking a candidate if he or she has children can cause the applicant to infer the question is a reflection on job performance. Often, parents bring up children on their own during interviews - especially if they're discussing work-life balance or juggling many commitments at once. But do your best to avoid questions directly dealing with the subject. 

4. Where do you live?

Any questions regarding a candidate's home address or national origin are off the table. Job applicants may worry they are being discriminated against due to their nationality or geographic location, and if you ask this question - regardless of your intentions - you could open yourself up to legal problems should the candidate not get the job.

5. Have you ever been arrested?

On your job applications, you can ask if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime, but you cannot ask if he or she has been arrested, nor can you use this information to influence your decision.

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