Hiring Holiday Help: Subjects to Avoid

If your company hires extra help for the holiday season, you can save yourself a few headaches – and legal pitfalls – by reviewing the basic rules of employment applications and interviewing.

As a rule, ask only about things that clearly and directly relate to the job and steer clear other topics. Here are a few subject areas to avoid, courtesy of law.com.


Since many holiday jobseekers are young people on a break from school, you may be tempted to ask about age to avoid hiring underage employees. Don’t do it. You cannot ask for a date of birth on the job application. Depending on the requirements for the position, you can ask if the person is over 16, 18, or 21, but nothing specific. If you need the date of birth in order to do a background check, wait until that point to get the information.

Social Security Number

Unless access to job applications is restricted, asking for Social Security numbers is not advisable, given the ubiquity of identity theft. If you really need the number, have a process in place for secure disposal of the application after making the hiring decision.


Having employees that will work on holidays may be the main reason you are hiring, but tread carefully in asking about religious holidays. Instead, clearly state the working hours required for the job and ask about the applicant’s availability during those times and dates.


You cannot ask about race or birthplace, but if fluency in a language other than English is a job requirement, you can ask about those skills. Again, ask only for information that you will use to make a hiring decision.

In most cases, you can learn what you really need to know without treading into topics that can be discriminatory. Be sure that your employees understand the dos and don’ts of interviewing. If you have any questions about the hiring process or employment applications, we’re here to help.


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