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A basic rule of thumb for job interviews is that any question that is directly connected to a bona fide job qualification is legal. Any question that is not connected may be illegal. Therefore, legal questions can be very different depending on the job that you are being asked to do. Here are some examples of legal questions:
- Can you speak Spanish? This is legal if the job that you are applying for requires customer service contact with people who are monolingual in Spanish. It is not legal if it is meant to find out if you are Hispanic.
- Are you able to work weekends and evenings? If the job requires people to work at those times, this is legal. Otherwise, it might be an illegal attempt to see if you have children.
- Are you legal to work in the United States? This is always a legal question to ask, whereas “are you a citizen” would not be in most cases.
- Are you physically able to do (and then list things that need to be done on the job)? This is legal because it is asking if you will be able to do the job whereas “are you in any way disabled” is not legal because it is not specific enough.
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Interviewers may ask about convictions but may not ask about arrests.
In general, any questions that are clearly related to bona fide job qualifications are legal.
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