The law prohibits employers from basing hiring decisions on protected characteristics of a job candidate, such as race, age, gender, religion, or disability. In fact, interviewers should not even ask questions about protected characteristics during a job interview, because there is no way to separate the question from the hiring decision. These are some examples of interview questions that are off limits, because the only way a candidate can answer them is by giving information about a protected characteristic:
- Where were you born?
- Is that an Armenian (Korean, Somali, etc.) last name?
- Do you have children?
- Do you plan to become pregnant?
- Which holidays do you celebrate?
- What year did you graduate from high school?
It is acceptable for employers to test your language skills and physical fitness skills only as these relate to the job duties. The employer can only ask you to lift a 25-pound box if the job requires it. Likewise, the employer can test your reading or speaking skills in English or another language if the job description specifically requires a certain language proficiency level.