Pre-Employment Inquiry Concerns are:
Name- Avoid asking applicants what their maiden name was, or what their name was
before any formal change or court order, since names can convey national origin
Residence- Interviewers may ask for an applicant’s address in order to correspond by
mail, but most other inquiries concerning residence may raise problems. For instance,
whether or not an employee owns or rents the residence can have little relationship to job
requirements, but may indicate economic status, which is not a permissible job
Age- Interviewers may not ask an applicant his/her age. However, applicants may be
notified that they will be required to produce verification of minimum age before
Citizenship or Birthplace- Interviewers may ask applicants whether they are U.S.
citizens or whether they have the legal right to be employed in this country. The question
should be followed by a statement that new hires will be required to submit immigration
Religion- Interviewers should avoid an inquiry into an applicant’s religious faith,
denomination, or affiliation, except in those rare instances where religion is a bona fide
occupational qualification. Likewise, avoid asking applicants what religious holidays
they observe or whether their religion prevents them from working on weekends or
certain holidays. Do not engage in small talk about what church the applicant attends, or
whether the applicant is active in any church groups. Such questions only invite religious
discrimination challenges to the eventual employment selection.
Race or Color- Applicants should NOT be asked to identify their race or color.
Sex- Terra Community College has no jobs for which being male or female is a bona fide
occupational qualification. Questions about marital status, an applicant’s child-rearing or
child-bearing plans are unrelated to suitability for employment. Such questions have
usually been used to discriminate against women and should not be asked.
Height and Weight- Pre-employment inquiries concerning a job applicant’s height or
weight tend to screen out women, certain ethnic or national origin groups, and physically
handicapped individuals, and should only be asked if they are demonstrably related to the
safe and efficient performance of the particular job. Interviewers should be aware that it
may be argued that applicants who are either excessively under or overweight are
handicapped under federal statutes governing job bias against handicapped individuals.
Pre-Employment Inquiry Concerns – Page 2
Physical Condition or Handicaps- Applicants may be asked whether they have any
physical condition or handicap that might limit their ability to perform the job applied
for, and to indicate what sort of job accommodations might be made to enable them to
perform the job. Under the statutes, excluding applicants from employment because
physical or mental impairment is only permissible if the impairment is a substantial
barrier to successful performance of the essential elements of the job.
Foreign Language Ability- Language facility is strongly indicative of national origin
and should not be inquired into unless language facility is strictly job-related.
Education- Applicants may be asked what degrees or diplomas they have received.
Dates of attendance at schools should not be asked, since this may be indicative of age.
Be sure that educational requirements for the job are substantially related to successful
performance, as unrealistic or inflated job requirements with regard to education may
tend to screen out minority applicants unlawfully.
Work Experience- Interviewers are entitled to ask prospective employees about their
work experience and specific skills that are pertinent to the requirements of the job for
which they have applied.
Military Experience- Limit inquiries into applicant’s military experience to questions
concerning relevant skills and training acquired in the military service that would be
helpful in the job for which they applied. Federal contractors do have affirmative action
obligations with respect to Vietnam-era veterans and special disabled veterans.
Personal or Professional References- Interviewers may ask applicants to list the names
of those who would be willing to vouch for their qualifications and character. It also is
permissible to ask applicants who referred them to the company. Please note that the
questions directed to such reference should stay within the bounds of permissible pre-
Arrest Records- It is unacceptable to ask job applicants whether they have ever been
arrested. In some parts of the country, minorities are arrested in numbers
disproportionate to their representations in the population, and such inquiries might have
the likely effect of discouraging individuals who have been arrested from even applying
Criminal Convictions- If applicants are asked whether they have ever been convicted of
any crime, the question should be followed with a statement that criminal convictions are
not an absolute bar to employment but will only be considered in relation to specific job
Pre-Employment Inquiry Concerns – Page 3
Experience with Fidelity Bond Applications- Interviewers may tell applicants that
bonding is a condition of employment, but it should not be asked whether the applicant
has ever been denied a fidelity bond. It may be that the refusal was long ago, and that the
passage of time or other mitigating circumstances would not enable the person to qualify
Personal Finance- Refrain from asking applicants about assets, liabilities, charge
accounts, bank accounts, or credit ratings. Likewise, questions concerning past wage
garnishments, personal bankruptcy, home ownership, or car ownership should be
Voluntary Associations or Union Affiliation- Avoid asking applicants to list
organizations, clubs, societies, or other voluntary personal or professional associations.
Interviewers may ask applicants to list those associations, such as professional or
technical organizations, that might have some bearing on job requirements. Do not
inquire about political affiliations or union membership or sentiments.
The consequences of violating any of the laws can be very serious. The remedies
associated with violations connected to the hiring process could require the hiring of the
unlawfully rejected candidate, back pay from the time of rejection until an offer for
employment is set forth and, of course, attorney fees. Other laws provide for additional
remedies in the area of compensatory damages for pain and suffering and punitive
damages for willful violations. A more recent proposal includes litigation involving the
concept of negligent hiring.