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Interview questions employers cannot ask

Employers should prepare a list of questions they intend to ask job applicants when they come in for the formal interview. The purpose of these questions is to assess whether the individual is the best fit for the position. However, before anyone comes in, the employer first needs to ensure none of the questions violate California law. 

Employers never want to find themselves with an employment discrimination case. One recommended way to lower your liability is to avoid asking the following questions, which applicants could perceive as a boss who wants to weed out people within a given demographic. 

"Have you ever been convicted of a crime?"

For years, many worksites required potential employees to disclose their criminal history. In 2017, California prohibited these kinds of questions with the passage of AB 1008. Under this new law, any business that has at least five employees cannot include questions on an application for prospective applicants to showcase their criminal history. In fact, San Francisco has even stricter laws on this subject. 

"When did you graduate from high school/college?"

California also prohibits questions related to an applicant's age. While most employers know not to directly ask that question, many still try to get around it by asking about graduation dates. The only exception to this rule is if there is if an applicant needs to be a certain age to do the job, which would be the case for serving alcohol. 

"How much do you presently earn?"

As of 2018, California also prohibits employers from asking applicants how much they currently make. There is some leeway with this type of question. The law still allows employers to ask applicants how much they would like to make for a given job. If an applicant discloses that information, the employer cannot use it when justifying whether to offer the job and how much it pays. 

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