Many employers are aware that there are specific questions you can’t ask during an interview. Inquiring about a candidate’s citizenship, marital status, gender, national origin, race, and similar protected conditions isn’t just bad form; it’s illegal.
However, there is a new trend that raises the number of topics hiring managers can’t broach. An increasing number of states and cities are making it illegal for employers to ask job seekers something that may have previously been standard to inquire about. If you want to make sure you remain on the right side of the law, here’s what you can’t ask about in interviews.
In an increasing number of states and municipalities, it is illegal to ask candidates about their salary histories. Questions that explicitly seek out this information, such as requesting an interviewee directly what they’ve earned in previous roles, are against the law. Additionally, any question where the goal is to find out about a job seeker’s past salary, even when it isn’t straightforward in its intent, as similarly banned.
Additionally, using any known salary information during the hiring process or when determining a new hire’s pay is also against the rules. This includes disqualifying an applicant based solely on their past earnings or extending a job offer with a salary that was chosen based on what they were paid previously.
There are also some states where employers are still allowed to ask about salary histories. Still, it is illegal to hold it against a candidate if they decline to provide that information. Essentially, a job seeker can blatantly refuse to discuss their payment details, and the hiring manager can’t use that refusal as grounds to not hire the candidate.
The Reason for the Bans
Typically, the purpose of these laws is to halt pay discrimination cycles. The gender pay gap has been able to increase because employers often based their salary offers on the candidate’s previous earnings. As a result, if a job seeker was receiving lower wages in a prior role because of pay discrimination, the disparity could remain even if they changed employers.
If a hiring manager can’t ask about a person’s salary history, then the likelihood that the pay discrimination cycle will continue to decrease. They can’t base a pay offer on what the candidate was making before, so they may be more likely to offer a fair wage based on the role and job seeker’s capabilities.
What You Can Ask Instead
While asking about salary histories might not be allowed in your area, there is still a question that you can ask. Requesting that a candidate tell you about their salary requirements or expectations is legal, so you can use a related issue to determine whether you and a job seeker are on the same page about compensation before you get too deep in the hiring process.
Ultimately, not being able to ask candidates about their salary history shouldn’t be particularly impactful to employers. Just make sure you stay on the right side of the law and be ready to offer fair compensation for each role, and you shouldn’t experience any challenges due to the change.
If you’d like to learn more about interviewing better job candidates, the staff at The Advance Group can help. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced recruitment specialists today and see how our hiring know-how can benefit you.