Happy New Year!  So, now that the holidays are over, you may be thinking about bringing on new team members to your firm or changing out some not-so-A players.  What I want to talk about today is interviewing…what you can ask and what you cannot ask.  There were some changes to some State laws in 2018 with respect to this very subject.

There are many guides available on the internet and in books that give sample questions to ask in an interview of a potential new employee.  They can vary widely from “What’s your biggest weakness?” to “If I were to ask you to empty the dishwasher right now, would you do it?”  There is usually some armchair psychology going on in deciding which questions to ask and why, but in this post, I am going to focus on questions that may seem innocuous that could potentially get you in some hot water. 

As an attorney, my radar is always attuned to potential legal issues with questions that employers ask in interviews.  Most employers know not to ask an interviewee about their race, ethnicity, age, sex, national origin, religion, disability, marital/familial status, or pregnancy.  These areas are well covered and strictly illegal.  However, asking seemingly innocuous questions in an interview that lead the interviewee to touch on these areas could open the employer up to a lawsuit if the interviewee believes they didn’t get the job because of their answer.  Here are some examples of questions that could lead to legal issues:

  • How long do you plan to work until you retire?
  • Did you grow up around here?
  • When did you graduate high school?
  • Do you have any kids?
  • Do you live by yourself?
  • How many days of work did you miss last year?
  • What is your maiden name?

All of these questions lead the interviewee to provide information that is not legally obtainable by an employer. 

There are new laws that are becoming more and more popular that bar employers from asking about a candidate’s salary history as well.  Several states and many local governments have decided that this question is not appropriate in the interview process because it hinders an employee from negotiation and upward mobility.  California has gone one step further and has banned employers from basing a new employee’s pay on salary history, even if the candidate volunteered the information. 

At the beginning of 2017, we eliminated the question from our hiring process because of the number of cities and states that have passed laws.  We now tell the candidates that the salary range for the position is between $X and $Y, and ask if they are comfortable in that range.

In addition to salary history, several states have prohibited credit checks as a condition of employment.  There are usually exceptions to this rule for professions involving a high level of public trust or individuals that have access to sensitive information.  Nearly all employees at wealth management firms have access to sensitive information, but the laws vary from state to state. 

The hiring process that we use to find our clients only the best employees has been successful time and time again.  After we go through the process and help our clients hire their new employee, the most common feedback is “I didn’t know we could get someone this great.”  If you anticipate you are going to need to add more members to your team in the next three to six months, give us a call today.  You can also schedule a complimentary call with us by going to our website (www.thestrategicimplementer.com).