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Avoid These Ugly Preemployment Pitfalls

In yesterday’s Advisor, we reviewed the good and the bad of preemployment inquiries; today, we take a look at some of the just plain ugly questions that you should never even think of asking.

Avoiding discriminatory practices in hiring should be a top priority. While some of the bad inquiries may be subtle, there are others so overtly hideous that they practically demand that an applicant file a lawsuit.

The Ugly … Just Don’t Ask!

While these preemployment pitfalls should be obvious to the seasoned HR professional, it never hurts to stay on point and review. Avoid the following topics (and questions):

  • Age, height, or weight. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination in employment against persons who are 40 years old or older, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines cite the example of a minimum height requirement of at least 6 feet having an adverse impact on Asian-Americans because of average height differences.
  • Medical conditions or disabilities. Don’t ask, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” or “How many sick days did you use last year?” Stick to the applicant’s ability to perform the essential functions of a specific position—appropriate health-related questions may be asked after a conditional offer of employment (but must be asked of ALL employees). Do note, however, that you may NEVER inquire about genetic information under federal law.
  • Gender, family status, or family plans. Never ask “Do you have child care in place” or “Are you pregnant?” On a side note, this topic also has ramifications for that old interview standby, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
  • Race or religion. Aside from voluntary information collected for affirmative action reporting requirements, these topics should never come up on an application or during a job interview.


Looking to perfect your performance evaluation process? Start on January 29, 2015, with a free interactive webcast, Optimizing Your Performance Management System: The Communication and Follow-Up Strategies for the Best Results. Learn More


They Asked What?

An article by Shlomo Sprung posted on businessinsider.com asked LinkedIn users to share some of the most ridiculous interview questions they’ve ever been asked. Here are some of the more terrible—we shouldn’t have to explain why these are ugly!

  • “Are you old enough to have this job? I was 35 at the time.”
  • “Did you know this company is very much against the military?”
  • “If I looked in your bedroom closet at home … what would I find?”
  • “Would you feel comfortable attending functions in the all-white section of the city?”
  • “I only brought you in because we need to interview some women for this position. Oh, and can you fill out that EEOC form on the way out?”

Asking the right questions isn’t just important during preemployment; you also need to be sure you’re asking the right ones while you evaluate the performance of current employees. Performance management can be tricky … how can you make your “perfect” evaluation process a reality? Fortunately, there’s timely help in the form of a new webcast—Optimizing Your Performance Management System: The Communication and Follow-Up Strategies for the Best Results. In just 60 minutes, you’ll learn everything you need to know about best practices in performance management, from communicating effectively to avoiding common pitfalls.

Register today for this free (thanks to sponsor SilkRoad) interactive webcast.


Make your performance evaluations count. Join us for the free interactive webcast Optimizing Your Performance Management System: The Communication and Follow-Up Strategies for the Best Results. Register Now


By participating in this interactive webcast, you’ll learn:

  • How to communicate with HR’s and management’s expectations
  • The best time to give official evaluations, and how often to do them
  • The performance management goofs managers make when conducting employee reviews and how to correct them—fast!
  • The game plan for addressing employee performance as it happens
  • Communication strategies to help you meet performance management-based goals
  • And much more!

Register now for this webcast.

Thursday, January 29, 2015
2:00 p.m. (Eastern)
1:00 p.m. (Central)
12:00 p.m. (Mountain)
11:00 a.m. (Pacific)

Join us on January 29, 2015, for the free, in-depth Optimizing Your Performance Management System: The Communication and Follow-Up Strategies for the Best Results webcast.

Find out more