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Office of Institutional Equity

Guidelines for Interviews

Experience has shown that illegal discrimination, intentional or unintentional, may easily occur during the interview process. Unintentional discrimination is considered as unlawful as intentional discrimination. Although state and federal statutes and regulations do not generally speak directly to the job interview, we can extrapolate from them some guidelines that should reduce the chance of conducting interviews that could be found discriminatory.

These guidelines are not intended to prohibit the hiring of qualified candidates for positions. Instead, they are intended to ensure that employers use criteria that are job-related and nondiscriminatory.

  1. Prepare in advance a list of questions related to the written position description. Determine as objectively as possible what knowledge, skills, and abilities are necessary to perform the job successfully, and then ask applicants only for information necessary to judge their competence in relation to these job requirements.
  2. Structure the interview so that the same core questions are asked for all applicants. Asking everyone the same questions will provide a better basis for comparing the interviewees during the selection process.
  3. Questions asked of the applicant should be clearly job-related and should not disproportionately screen out members of minority groups or members of one sex. If a question disproportionately affects a certain group of applicants, it must be shown to be job-related. Furthermore, the question should not be used if it can be reasonably replaced by one that will not disproportionately affect a protected group. (NOTE: See Appendix 19, Guidelines for Filling Direct Entry Positions.)
  4. The conditions surrounding the interview process should also be standardized. Attempt to use the same type of setting and freedom from interference during the interview and a similar manner of approaching all applicants. Treat all applicants fairly, consistently, and equally. All applicants should be treated alike throughout the interview process.
  5. Don't tell the applicant he or she might not "fit in" because of his or her race or sex. It is illegal not to hire a person because of the preference of co-workers, the employer, clients or customers.
  6. Keep in mind that some people have been refused employment because of race, religion, national origin, and sex and that these are therefore sensitive issues.
  7. Don't tell the applicant that his or her opportunity for employment will be determined by the University's need to meet hiring goals. Goals established for the recruitment of women and minorities represent hoped-for results based on good-faith recruiting efforts and fair, job-related selection procedures.

The following table has been added for your convenience and summarizes appropriate and inappropriate questions for potential employees. It is intended to help formulate questions which will elicit the legal information needed to make employment decisions. All applicants for a position must be asked the same questions.

NAMEWhether a person has worked under a different name. Questions which divulge marital status, ancestry, or national origin.Current legal name. Whether any other information is necessary about applicant's name to check on previous work or educational record.
MARITAL STATUSWhether person is married, single, separated, divorced, widowed, or engaged.Nothing.
FAMILY STATUSAbout family planning, number and ages of children, child care arrangements, spouse's employment, salary, travel schedule, whether applicant is "head of household."Willingness to travel if job requires. Ability to meet work schedule requirements.
AGEApplicant to state age or date of birth or to provide proof of age. (This information can be obtained after hire.)Whether applicant meets the minimum age requirement as set out by law. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act amendment of 1986 eliminates the mandatory retirement age of 70 except for tenured faculty. Therefore, questions about upper age limits are inappropriate.
RACE OR COLORApplicant's race.Nothing.
PREGNANCYAbout medical history concerning pregnancy and related health matters. Do not reject applicants because of pregnancy alone.Anticipated duration in the job. Anticipated absences from the job. (Same questions must be asked of males and females.)
PHYSICAL/MENTAL DISABILITIESGeneral questions about whether person is disabled or the severity or nature of the disability: questions soliciting information that is not job related.Whether person is able to carry out all necessary job requirements in a safe manner. Employer is required to make "reasonable accommodations" for physical and mental limitations of employees including alteration of duties and physical setting and provision of aids.
ADDRESSInquiry into foreign address that would indicate national origin. Names or relationships of persons with whom applicant resides. Whether applicant rents or owns a home.Applicant's address.
BIRTHPLACE/ NATIONAL ORIGINAncestry/birth place of applicant or spouse, parents, or other relatives.Nothing.
RELIGIONAbout religious denomination, affiliation, religious holidays observed.Anticipated absences from job. But reasonable accommodation must be made to the religious observances and practices of a prospective employee.
LANGUAGE SKILLSAbout language skill unless it is a necessary job requirement.About ability to speak, read, or write English or a foreign language if the job requires.
MILITARY RECORDType of discharge from military.Type of education and experience in service if it relates to the job.
PHOTOGRAPHFor photo before hiring.May require photo after hiring for identification purposes.
CITIZENSHIPWhether the individual is a U.S. citizen, as a basis for exclusion from employment. No positions at Kansas State University are limited to U.S. citizens.If you are not a citizen or resident alien of the U.S., does your visa or immigration status prevent you from lawful employment?
*EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE*About education or experience that is not related to job performance. Inquiries specifically asking the nationality, racial affiliation, or religious affiliation of the school attended. (Requirements should not be higher than needed for job; that discriminates against poor and/or minorities with less opportunity for education.)*Training and experience related to job requirements, including names and addresses of previous employers, dates of employment, reasons for leaving, and schools attended.
ARRESTSAbout arrests because the person is not judged guilty by an arrest.Nothing.
CONVICTIONSAbout convictions unless the information bears on job performance. Note: Do not make indefensible assumptions about future behavior based on conviction.About convictions, if all candidates are asked, and if the information has bearing on job performance of the specific positions. Look at severity and frequency of violation, age of applicant at time of illegal act, time elapsed since conviction, and all aspects of the applicant to determine the seriousness of the conviction in relation to potential job performance.
CREDIT RATINGS OR GARNISHMENTSAbout credit ratings, financial status, car or home ownership, since they usually have little or no relation to job performance. NOTE: It is a civil rights violation to refuse to hire a minority on the basis of a person's poor credit rating, unless business necessity for doing so can be shown.Nothing, unless job related.
RELATIVESName or address of any relative of adult applicant. Information about friends or relatives working for an employer is not relevant to an applicant's job performance.Nothing.
WHOM TO CONTACT IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.Do not ask for this information before hiring.After hire, determine name and address of person to contact in case of emergency.
SEXUAL ORIENTATIONAbout sexual orientation.Nothing.
REFERENCESDo not ask for a mere listing of unchecked references.This inquiry is fine if employers actually check with references for employment suitability.
ORGANIZATIONSAbout all organizations the person belongs to; organizations which indicate race, color, creed, sex, marital status, religion, or national origin.About professional and job-related organizations, provided the applicant may exclude the name or character of an organization that would reveal the race, religion, color, or ancestry of that organization.
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The Office of Institutional Equity administers the policies and procedures related to equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.