Weekly HR News- Hiring Practices - What you can and can't ask regarding residence, backgrounds and military service.

Weekly HR News - Hiring Practices

Interview Questions – What you can and can’t ask in regards to residence, backgrounds and military service!

Part 7 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!


Last but not least in this series on interviews, is how to dodge interviewing blunders by avoiding these questions about a candidate’s residence, past legal troubles and military service.

  1. What you can't ask: How far is your commute?

Although hiring employees who live close by may be convenient, you can't choose candidates based on their location. Find out about their availability instead.  The only exception to this is for your emergency personnel if you have response time requirements.  

What to ask instead: Are you able to start work at 8 a.m.?

  1. What you can't ask: Have you ever been arrested?

In sensitive positions, like those that deal with money, or those involved in law enforcement, you should find out about your candidate's legal fortitude. But ensure that you ask only directly about crimes that relate to your concern.  And, in Kentucky, public employers can’t refuse to hire a potential qualified employee based on the fact that they have been arrested unless they have been arrested for a felony or a high misdemeanor (KRS 335B).

What to ask instead: Have you ever been convicted of "x" (fraud, theft and so on that is specific to their position)? And always be certain to follow it up with a conviction is not an automatic disqualification.

  1. What you can't ask: Were you honorably discharged from the military?

A bad military record can be illuminating, but you can't ask about it. Instead, ask about the candidate's experience, and they may volunteer this information on their own.

What to ask instead: Tell me how your experience in the military can benefit the city.

  1. What you can't ask: Are you a member of the National Guard or Reserves?

Losing an employee to military service can be disrupting, but it's critical that you don't discriminate based on assumptions of a candidate's upcoming military commitments. Find out what their plans are for the short term instead.

What to ask instead: Do you have any upcoming events that would require extensive time away from work?

For a complete list of interview questions, or assistance with hiring matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower with the KLC Legal Department.