HR-approved interviewing for non-HR types.

If you are in HR, you can probably skip this one. You most likely live & breathe by EEOC compliance, so there won’t be any new information here, but if you are someone who finds yourself hiring from time-to-time and you don’t have an HR background, you should stick around.

My inspiration for this post actually came from a recent conference we attended. Someone passed by our booth and mentioned they only ask one interview question, and it was definitely something she should not be asking. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that most of the people who are interviewing don’t actually have HR backgrounds. They might not have received any training… and furthermore, they might have no clue that EEOC Compliance even exists!

So what is EECO Compliance?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a US government agency that enforces federal employment discriminations laws including:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

Essentially, the agency exists to protect applicants and employees from being discriminated against based on race, religion, sex, national origin, or age.

As an interviewer, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the basics of EEOC compliance, so you don’t accidentally slip-up and ask something inappropriate and illegal. Usually, it’s unintentional small talk that’s actually the riskiest! Let’s take a look at a few things you should avoid.

Illegal interview questions you should NOT ask during an interview

“Where did you grow up?”

This seemingly harmless question that many people ask when meeting new people could actually be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because you could be discriminatory towards the candidate based on their national origin.

“What year did you graduate?”

While it’s important to ask about relevant training, avoid dates and timelines. The Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age-based discrimination. Even though as an interviewer you aren’t asking specifically about their age, it’s easy to make inferences that could be used for discrimination.

“What’s your spouse’s name? Do you have any kids?”

It’s normal to want to get to know a candidate on a personal level, but it’s definitely a no-no! You should avoid all questions regarding marital status, family situations, pregnancy, and childcare. Stick to professional questions or ask about hobbies if you are curious about getting to know the applicant on a more personal level.

Now, of course, these questions just touch on a few ways to trip up where EEOC is concerned, but you can see how simple it can be to make an unintentional mistake.

If you’ve got an upcoming interview, visit for more information to brush up on rules & regulations.

(Or you can take the easy route, and stick to the provided question within Echovate. We’ve done our homework. :-))