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Inappropriate Interviews and How to Handle Them

Inappropriate Interviews and How to Handle Them

CDO is committed to ensuring that all students receive fair and appropriate treatment from all employers who use our career services, and that the law school, its students, and employers act in good faith in the recruiting and hiring process.

At the outset, review the following policies relating to recruiting and hiring including:

Job interviews should focus on your ability to perform the essential functions of the job for which you are interviewing. Thus, the questions you receive should focus solely on your education, experience, abilities and suitability for the position. Interviewers should avoid questions about ethnicity, religion, gender, country of national origin or birthplace, disability, age, marital or family status.

The following questions are likely inappropriate for a job interview:

  • Are you a U.S. citizen? Which language is your native tongue? Interviewers may ask if you can, upon hire, provide proof of legal right to work in the United States. They may ask about language fluency if it is relevant to job performance.
  • Where did you grow up? Interviewers should not inquire about where you live, what type of housing you occupy, or whether you rent or own.
  • What year did you graduate from high school? Interviewers should avoid questions that may indicate your age.
  • What does your spouse/partner do for a living? Are you planning to have a family? When? Do you have children or child-care responsibilities? These questions could be discriminatory. Interviewers may ask if you can work the normal hours of the job, whether you are available for overtime (if overtime is a requirement of the position), and whether you have obligations that would prevent you from traveling for business.
  • Are you available for work on Saturdays or Sundays? Will you need personal time for particular religious holidays? Interviewers should not ask any questions about religion. If Saturday or Sunday is a required workday, interviewers may ask you if you will have a problem working on those days.
  • Do you have a visual, speech, or hearing disability? Interviewers should avoid questions or comments about an applicant’s disability. They should not ask about medical conditions, past hospitalizations, past medical, psychiatric, or psychological treatment. They should not ask about prescription drugs or medications or the number of days you were sick during previous employment. They may ask whether you are able to perform the job, with or without reasonable accommodation, if you have an obvious disability or when all applicants are asked the same exact question. Also, if you have an obvious disability or you volunteer that you have a disability, interviewers may ask if you will need a reasonable accommodation. Review CDO’s Advice on Navigating the Job Search for Yale Law Students with Disabilities.
  • Have you ever used illegal drugs? The only allowable question relating to current or past drug or alcohol use is, "Do you currently use illegal drugs?"
  • Have you ever been arrested? Interviewers should not ask if you have been arrested; they may investigate your criminal record if relevant to a particular position.

If you are faced with an inappropriate question during an interview, you may decide to answer the question as asked without reference to the inappropriateness of the question. Another option is to ask the interviewer to clarify the question so that you can understand how the inquiry relates to your candidacy for the position. Or, you can simply decline to answer the question.

If you have concerns about any interaction with employers in an interview or employment context during law school, you are encouraged to speak to a CDO counselor or the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for the Law School, Jennifer Cerny (jennifer.cerny@yale.edu) to discuss options for addressing the matter.