Inappropriate Interview Questions….Guest blog by Shannon Cooper
So, as an unemployed interior designer, I’ve had a handful of interviews this past year, most of which were good, professional interviews. However, during a more recent situation I was asked if I “had a family.”
Hello inappropriate question!
Did they ask because I’m a woman? Familiar with the laws, I was reluctant to answer, but ultimately I did (with much regret). I knew what they must have been thinking: “Uh oh, primary care provider = sick kids = missing work.” To say the least, I didn’t get the job and I wondered if all the candidates were being asked the same question (unlikely). The more appropriate, law abiding question would have been, “Is there anything that would interfere with regular attendance at work?”
After I left the interview, I wondered what I could do about this. How was this fair? So, I did some research. Below is a link stating which questions are inappropriate to ask during an interview.
Sections 111.31-111.395 of the Wisconsin Statutes provides that it is unlawful for employers, employment agencies, labor unions and licensing agencies to discriminate against employees and job applicants because of any of the following:
Age, Ancestry, Arrest Record, Color, Conviction Record, Creed, Disability, Genetic Testing, Honesty Testing, Marital Status, Military Service, National Origin, Pregnancy or Childbirth, Race, Sex, Sexual Orientation, Use or nonuse of lawful products off the employer’s premises during nonworking hours. Employees may not be harassed in the workplace based on their protected status nor retaliated against for filing a complaint, for assisting with a complaint, or for opposing discrimination in the workplace.
Now the above statement says “unlawful” however, this is what I learned when I called the STATE OF WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, EQUAL RIGHTS DIVISION, CIVIL RIGHTS BUREAU. What I was told that there are a lot of inappropriate questions and no illegal questions. I was told that the company that interviewed me and clearly asked if I had a family, didn’t break the law. I learned that if I felt strongly about the issue and wanted to take action or file a formal complaint, I would need proof. I’d have to prove and find documentation that the person hired instead of me was equally or less qualified and DIDN’T have a family.
So, as for inappropriate interview questions, potential employers aren’t really supposed to ask you any of these questions, but there are ways around the law. It seems like really anything goes unless you have the cold hard evidence to prove they asked you something unlawful.
This doesn’t really sound like Equal Opportunity.
On to the next interview…