Weekly HR News- What you can and can't ask in regards to gender!

Weekly HR News - Hiring Practices

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

Part 5 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!


Once you've reached the interview stage, a candidate's gender is usually pretty clear. It is important, however, to ensure that you don't make assumptions about a person's abilities based on this information.

  1. What you can't ask: We've always had a man/woman do this job. How do you think you will stack up?

Leave gender out of this question, and you should be fine. Inquire about the applicant's ability to handle the job, but don't ask directly about how being a man or woman could affect it.

What to ask instead: What do you have to offer our city?

  1. What you can't ask: How do you feel about supervising men/women?

This question, although it may seem like a valid concern, is not acceptable. The candidate may not have any issues working with the opposite or same sex, and you'll seem crass for even bringing it up.

What to ask instead: Tell me about you previous experience managing teams.

  1. What you can't ask: What do you think of interoffice dating?

The practice of interoffice dating can be distracting, break up teams and cause a number of other problems in the workplace. But asking this question makes assumptions about the candidate's marital status and may even be interpreted as a come-on.

What to ask instead: Have you ever been disciplined for your behavior at work?

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