Questions Not to Ask: Avoiding Bias and Discrimination

Numerous laws and executive orders require affirmative action and equal opportunity, and prohibit certain practices if such practices discriminate against persons because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, criminal record, or mental or physical handicap/disability.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination compiled the guide below to assist employers in understanding and applying the law and to help them avoid asking questions in the pre-employment interview that would give potentially prejudicial information. This pertains only to inquiries, advertisements, etc., directed to applicants prior to employment.  Information required for records, such as race and sex, may be requested after the applicant has been hired.

These laws are not intended to prohibit employers from obtaining sufficient job related information about applicants, as long as the questions do not elicit information which could be used for discriminatory purposes.

The material contained in the guide is based on current federal and state legislation and court decisions. Please share this information with all faculty, staff, and students involved in faculty searches.

Pre-Interview Fact Sheet