Weekly HR News- Hiring Practices

Weekly HR News - Hiring Practices

Interview Questions – What you can and can’t ask in regards to nationality!

Part 1 of 7

The job interview is a great way to find out if an applicant is the right person for the job.  It is also an opportunity for the city to find its way into a lawsuit if the wrong questions are asked.  In this series of articles, we will take a look at what questions will get you in hot water and what questions will get you the answers that you need to know!

Issues with questions about a candidate’s nationality:

The City, as an employer, needs to be sure that an applicant can legally work for you, but you must be careful how and what you ask.

  1. What you can't ask: Are you a U.S. citizen?

This seems like the simplest and most direct way to find out if an interviewee is legally able to work for your city, however, it is an illegal question. Instead, ask whether or not they are authorized for work.

What to ask instead: Are you authorized to work in the U.S.?

  1. What you can't ask: What is your native language?

This question can also be considered as a way to discriminate against someone from another country.

What to ask instead: What languages do you read, speak or write fluently?

  1. What you can't ask: How long have you lived here?

Again, this can be seen as a way to find out about a person’s national origin.

What to ask instead: What is your current address and phone number? Do you have any alternative locations where you can be reached? 

Next week we will look at issues in regards to religion.  For a complete list of interview questions, contact Andrea Shindlebower with the KLC Legal Department.