Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Summary Guidelines on Interviewing

Personal interviews are an important component of the hiring process. Interview questions should be consistent with the Policy Against Discrimination and Harassment and in compliance with the laws that govern hiring procedures. According to the New York State Fair Employment Practice Laws an interview must avoid any questions of an individual that cover race, color, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion or creed, veteran status, marital status, arrest record, national or ethnic origin, age, birth date or birth place.

Additionally, it is unlawful to inquire, either directly or indirectly, about an applicant’s or employee’s disability status. An employer may inquire only whether an individual can perform specific tasks in a reasonable manner. An employer may not disqualify an applicant/employee because of suspected future risk to his/her health or on the basis of a perceived disability while performing a specific job. For your convenience, Interviewing Issues to Consider is attached to assist you in understanding how these laws more specifically apply.

The above limitations apply equally to questions which may be asked of an employee who applies for or is under consideration for promotion, transfer, upgrading, etc. These limitations also apply equally to questions asked by a prospective employer, either in person, by telephone, in writing or otherwise, or of a former employer, with references to an application or a person under consideration for employment. The key message is that the employer is restricted to asking questions about professional qualities that are job related only in order to respect the privacy of an individual.

Please call the Office of Human Resources at x6820 (on campus) to request any assistance with the hiring process.

Interviewing Issues to Consider :


May Ask (Legal)
May Not Ask (Illegal)


Generally, the only proper question is, “Are you under 18, yes or no?”

Inquiry into the date of birth or age of an applicant.


Can you perform any and all job functions with or without reasonable accommodation? Can you describe how you would perform (any or) all job functions? These are the attendance requirements, can you meet them? (Should ask all applicants.)

Inquiry into whether the applicant has a physical or mental disability or about the nature or severity of the disability

National Origin / Ancestry / Citizenship

“Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?”

Inquiry into the birthplace of an applicant or the birthplace of his or her parents(s), spouse and/or other close relatives. Inquiry into the national origin, ancestry or ethnicity of an applicant. Inquiry into whether an applicant for employment or an applicant’s parent(s), and/or spouse are naturalized or native-born citizens of the U.S.


No questions.

Inquiry into the race or color of an applicant.

Religion or Creed

No questions.

Inquiry into the religious denomination or practices of an applicant, his or her religious obligations, or what religious holidays s/he observes.

Sex (Gender)

Generally, no questions.

Inquiry into an applicant’s maiden name or any question that pertains to only one sex. Inquiries into whether applicant has children, plans to have children, or has child care arrangements.

Sexual Orientation

No questions.

Inquiry into applicant’s sexuality (gay, bisexual, lesbian, heterosexual.)

Criminal Record

Inquiry into whether the applicant has violated the law which resulted in a conviction

It is unlawful for an employer to make any inquiry of an applicant or employee regarding an arrest, detention or disposition regarding any violation of law in which no conviction resulted.

Medical Examinations

Once an offer of employment has been made, an employer may condition that offer on the results of a medical examination conducted solely for the purpose of determining whether the employee, with or without reasonable accommodation, is capable of performing the essential functions of the job.

Inquiry into whether an applicant has AIDS.

Education/ Experience/ References/ Organizations

Inquiry into the academic, vocational or professional education of an applicant for employment. Inquiry into the work experience shall also contain a statement that the applicant may include in such history any verified work performed on a volunteer basis. Inquiry into references.

Questions about education designed to determine how old the applicant is. Inquiry into the organizations of which the applicant for employment is a member, the nature, name or character of which would likely disclose the applicant’s protected class status.