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  • Writer's pictureJennie Tannenbaum

Could Your Interview Questions Get You into Trouble?

Gloria smiled in the mirror while checking herself from her glossy straightened hair down to her modest block heels. She had chosen a simple black suit along with an eye catching fuchsia silk blouse to wear this morning to interview the applicants.


She was feeling both flattered and nervous to be conducting interviews, so early in her HR career with the company. She wanted to make sure that she found the person who would be the best fit for the job while at the same time making sure that she represented the company accurately in its core values and branding. She knew that what she said and how she conducted the interview would be a reflection of the company. After all, her boss often said to her your behavior is a representation of the company, so keep that in mind in your daily interactions at work.


Gloria remained focused upon the set of interview questions that had been given to her by her boss to use during the interviews for the vacant position in the sales division. Her boss said to use these questions, because they had always used them in the past and they were now the standard interview questions for their company. As Gloria read the list of questions, she began to get an uneasy feeling that a few of the standard questions were not quite “right.”


Some of these questions that she felt were not quite “right” are as follows:

“Are you married?”

“What is your nationality?”

“What is your current salary?”

“Do you have any social media accounts?”


Gloria’s uneasy feeling that the questions were not quite “right” was absolutely correct as to the first three questions. Asking if an applicant is married is discriminatory because it implies that married persons versus single persons may be less inclined to be committed to a job and more committed to their family and therefore, may carry out their job responsibilities to a lesser degree.


Inquiring about one’s nationality is blatant discrimination.


An applicant being paid less than their actual worth may have a difficult time securing a job at that worth if asked about salary history and therefore, be at a disadvantage.

In Massachusetts, employers may not inquire as to marital status, nationality or salary history of a job applicant, such questions may result in discrimination charges, an investigation by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and even a lawsuit.


The last question, she was feeling not quite “right” about is acceptable, presently. Employers in Massachusetts may inquire as to whether an applicant has social media accounts. Employers have every right not to hire an applicant based upon content on their social media account as long as it is not an illegal reason. An example, of an illegal reason is learning that an applicant is disabled after looking at their social media account and not hiring the individual based solely on the disability presuming that they are qualified for the position, otherwise. There is legislation pending that could prevent employers from asking for social media passwords.


If you are not sure what questions you may or may not ask during an interview, Simply Good Law can offer training and assistance with this as well as with other matters in the hiring process.


This article is for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as legal advice. For further information or discussion contact me at jennie@simplygoodlaw.com or at 978-681-0017.

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