This article appears in the October issue of PA Professional.
Interviewing is a dance of questions parried and answers carefully worded, ideally as part of a mutual process of investigation and discovery to answer the question: Are you a good fit for the position, and is the position a good fit for you? Sometimes, however, PA job seekers will encounter questions that fall outside the boundaries of what the law allows a prospective employer to ask. In this article, I will discuss illegal and improper questions you may encounter in the interview process and some ways of handling them.
Job seekers are guaranteed protection against discrimination based on a variety of laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin; the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older; and Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector and in state and local governments.
Women job seekers are protected by federal and state laws prohibiting prospective employers from asking certain questions that single them out and are not asked of male applicants.
Examples of questions PAs may encounter of a discriminatory nature include:
Illegal: Are you single, married, divorced or engaged? Do you live by yourself or with a partner? Do you plan to have a family? If so, when? Are you taking birth control or using fertility treatments? How many children do you have? What are your child care arrangements?
Legal: Would you be willing to travel as needed by the job? This job requires overtime occasionally—would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary? Do you
have any commitments that will conflict with your work schedule?
Illegal: Are you a U.S. citizen? Where were you born? What is your “native tongue?”
Legal: Are you authorized to work in the United States? What languages do you read, speak or write fluently? (This question is okay as long as this ability is relevant to the performance of the job.)
Read the rest of this article in the October issue of PA Professional.
Jennifer Anne Hohman is the founder and principal of PA Career Coach, a service dedicated to helping PAs create rewarding, healthy and patient-centered careers.