Search and Hire – Interviewing

Guidelines to Fair Pre-Employment Inquiries

These guidelines were developed to assist University of Washington employees who participate in any phase of the hiring of employees. To comply with federal and state hiring laws and University Administrative Policy 46.01, employees must exercise care to avoid making unfair pre-employment inquiries, whether on forms, during interviews, or when requesting information concerning applicants.

Pre-employment inquiries which discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran are prohibited by the University’s equal opportunity policy. Further, pre-employment inquiries which objectively convey to a reasonable person that the information will be used in connection with a discriminatory purpose are prohibited.

Department Administrators should take the following steps to comply with the University’s equal opportunity policy:

  • Direct all individuals who participate in any part of the hiring pre-employment process to comply with the guidelines provided below.
  • Review all hiring procedures and related forms for compliance with these guidelines.
  • Direct all individuals who make inquiries to obtain applicant information or recommendations to comply with the guidelines below.

Note: The guidelines chart applies to inquiries made of all applicants to the University of Washington. This includes contract-classified, classified, professional, academic, temporary, or any other employee type within the University.

Chart for Fair and Unfair Pre-employment Inquiries

Subject Fair Inquiry Unfair Inquiry
Age Inquiry related to birth date and proof of true age. Inquiry that implies an age preference for persons under 40.
Arrest/Conviction Finalist will be requested to complete a criminal background check through UW contractor. Entities or positions with a direct responsibility for the supervision, care, or treatment of children, mentally ill persons, or developmentally disabled persons or other vulnerable adults are exempt from these inquiries and in such cases the University may conduct background checks under RCW 43.20A.710, 43.43.830 through 43.43.842, and RCW 72.23.035. Other inquiries concerning convictions or imprisonment will be considered to be justified by business necessity if the crimes inquired about relate reasonably to job duties and if the conviction or release from imprisonment occurred within the last ten years. Other inquiries concerning convictions and imprisonment will not be considered justified by business necessity if they do not reasonably relate to job duties and did not occur within the previous ten years.
Citizenship Whether applicant can be lawfully employed in this country because of visa or immigration status; whether applicant can provide proof of legal right to work in US after being hired. Whether applicant is a citizen; requirement before hiring that applicant present birth certificate, naturalization, or baptismal record; any inquiry into citizenship that would tend to divulge applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, or birthplace
Disability Whether applicant can perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation. Request to describe or demonstrate performance of the essential functions with or without accommodation. Inquiry about nature, severity or extent of a disability. Inquiry as to whether an applicant requires reasonable accommodation. Whether an applicant has applied for or received worker’s compensation. Any inquiry that is not job related or consistent with business necessity.
Family Whether applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities, commitments, or responsibilities that may prevent meeting work attendance requirements. Inquiry concerning spouse, spouse’s employment or salary, children, childcare arrangements, or dependents.
Height/Weight None. Any inquiry relating to height or weight
Marital Status None. Any inquiry about the applicant’s marital status whether an applicant is married, single, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc. Any form requesting identification by Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. status.
Military Inquiry concerning education, training, or work experience in the US military. Type or condition of military discharge, request for discharge papers, an applicant’s experience in a military other than the United States military.
Name Whether applicant has worked under different name, and if so, what name; name applicant is known to references if different from present name. Any other inquiry concerning name which would divulge marital status, lineage, ancestry, national origin, or descent. Inquiry into original name where it has been changed by court order or marriage.
National Origin* Inquiry into ability to read/write/speak foreign language when the foreign language is a job requirement. Any other inquiry into applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, birthplace, native language, or national origin of an applicant’s parents or spouse.
Photograph None. May request after employment for purpose of identification. Any request for submission of photograph at any time prior to employment.
Pregnancy (see also Disability) Inquiry as to duration of stay on the job or anticipated absences made to males and females alike. Any inquiry related to pregnancy, medical history concerning pregnancy, and related matters.
Race or Color* None. Any inquiry concerning race or color.
Relatives Names of relatives currently employed by University. Any other inquiry about marital status, spouse, or spouse’s occupation.
Religion or Creed None. Inquiry concerning religious preference, denomination, affiliations, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed.
Residence Inquiry about address sufficient to facilitate contact with applicant. Any other inquiry regarding with whom applicant resides; whether applicant owns or rents.
Sex. None. Any inquiry concerning gender.
Sexual Orientation None. Any inquiry regarding sexual orientation.

Interview Suggestions

Visits are designed to interest the candidate in the University of Washington as well as to assess the candidate, so care should be taken to make the visits good ones. Planning is essential.


  1. Contact each candidate to schedule the interview visit. Ask whether the candidate has any special requirements or circumstances needing arrangement in advance; if the candidate mentions needing accommodations for a disability, do not ask about the disability but do tell the candidate you will ask the Disability Services Office to contact the candidate directly to make arrangements. Contact the Disability Services Office (206-543-6450) with information on how to reach the candidate.
  2. Departments may either give the candidate the name of a travel agent to contact to insure that the state contract rates are used or make the travel arrangements for the candidate.
  3. Department develops an itinerary for each candidate and selects one faculty member to serve as the host for the candidate during the visit. The itinerary may consist of:
    • meetings with individual or groups of faculty
    • meeting with the search committee
    • faculty, graduate student, seminar or class presentations
    • meeting with the dean (send dean a copy of candidate’s packet)
    • tours of facilities
    • informal gatherings
    • meals
  4. The host should be responsible for seeing that the candidate makes it to all of the meetings and for helping to answer the candidate’s questions.
  5. Send the candidate a copy of the itinerary, information about University of Washington, Seattle, Tacoma or Bothell, etc.
  6. A few days prior to the visit, send a reminder or email to the faculty regarding the visit schedule and where the candidate’s file is available for review. If the candidate is giving a formal presentation, post announcements and send information to interested individuals.

During visit

  1. Arrange transportation from the airport and to the hotel. Assure that the candidate knows the visit itinerary and will be at the first appointment scheduled.
  2. Accompany the candidate to and from appointments, to assure that he or she remains on time and does not get lost.
  3. Ensure that the candidates meet at some time during the visit with the appropriate administrator to arrange for reimbursement of travel expenses.


Search committee solicits comments about the candidate. These comments are recorded in the candidate’s file and used in the final selection process.

Additional Resources