At Wurk, we understand that hiring can be a complex and stressful process; from identifying your talent needs, to drafting a cannabis-specific job description (which seems to constantly evolve), to picking the right hiring platform. And once you have a batch of seemingly qualified candidates, what next? How do you ensure you ask all the right questions in the interview process without crossing any boundaries? We put together a list of do’s and don’ts for you to follow during your next round of interviews so you feel confident about what can and can’t ask.
Certain topics during an interview are inappropriate except in specific situations. Hence, the following interview topics are labeled as “situational” and should be understood and navigated respectfully during all interviews. For each topic, we will provide a few don’ts as well as certain situations where you might need further discussion.
Asking a candidate’s age can be seen as age discrimination and shouldn’t be a point of discussion, unless the job or industry has a legal age requirement for employees. An important note for cannabis hiring managers – it is mandated that all cannabis employees be at least 21 years old to work in the industry.
- How old are you?
- When is your birthday?
- When did you graduate from high school?
- When reviewing requirements for the role, you can include that it is required by law that the candidate be at least 21 years old to work at your establishment.
Asking about disabilities can be seen as discrimination against people with disabilities and shouldn’t be a point of discussion unless the job has specific physical requirements.
- Do you have a disability?
- Have you ever been injured on the job?
- When reviewing requirements for the role, clearly outline expectations for successful performance, such as effectively moving cultivation equipment.
Physical attributes such as height, weight, eye color, hair color and ethnicity should never be a topic of discussion during an interview unless there is a legitimate occupational qualification. An example of a legitimate occupational qualification would be if a casting director is looking for a female actress with red hair. For cannabis companies, this can be a great tool for promoting diversity in video content. In most cases, asking about physical attributes can be seen as racial or national discrimination.
- What is your weight?
- What is your nationality?
It is inappropriate to ask about gender and/or sexual orientation at any point in a candidate’s experience. Asking about this topic can be seen as discrimination based on sex, gender identification and/or sexual orientation. However, it is important to ensure your candidates understand that they are coming to work in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
- Are you male or female?
- Do you prefer to be addressed as Ms. or Mr.?
- Do you prefer to be addressed as she/her or he/him?
- At our company we have an inclusive culture that welcomes anyone who is ready to work hard and contribute in positive ways to our team and the overall work environment.
Salary discussions can often feel awkward for all parties involved during the hiring process. As a rule of thumb, it is okay to discuss target pay range for the given job opening, but you should refrain from asking about past salary during an interview. This can be seen as pay discrimination based on gender and could even put you in violation of the Equal Pay Act.
- What is your current salary?
- What did you make at your previous job?
- What is your target salary for this position? This allows you to understand if the candidate is within your range early in the process.
This topic can seem a bit out of place, but it is important to remember that diving too quickly into personal life can be seen as discrimination based on gender, race or even religion. There are several questions to avoid when trying to determine reliability of your candidate.
- How many children do you have?
- Do you have a car?
- What is your religion?
- What is your childcare arrangement?
- What is your availability?
- Do you have reliable means of transportation?
- Are there specific days/times that you cannot work?
Topics to Avoid All Together
Asking about criminal record should always be avoided during the interview process. While you are able to conduct a background check on all new hires, asking them directly about their criminal history could be illegal based on ban-the-box laws passed in several states. As a cannabis business, you’ll want to make sure you are following all state AND federal laws when it comes to hiring and onboarding. Check out our 5 Tips for Hiring and Onboarding here.
It should be a general rule of thumb to avoid discussing military status. There will hardly ever be a circumstance where a candidate’s military status is needed. In addition, never ask about a candidate’s discharge status. Questions about military status can be seen as discrimination based on veteran status.
Always avoid asking your candidate if they are pregnant or planning on starting a family in the near future. This can be seen as discrimination based on gender and/or pregnancy. Be ready to respond to questions related to maternity/paternity leave and your company leave policy.