Human Resources

Guidelines for pre-employment inquiries

Last updated: September 22, 2023

Pre-employment inquiries which discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, age, protected veteran or disabled status, or genetic information are prohibited by the University of Washington’s policy and state and federal laws. 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. Hiring officials must ensure that all pre-employment inquiries made of job applicants, whether written or oral, are lawful and fair.

Department administrators/search committees 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 candidate information or recommendations to comply with the guidelines below.

Note: The guidelines chart applies to inquiries made of any applicants to the UW. This includes contract covered, classified, professional, academic, nonpermanent, student, or any other employee type within the University.

Chart for Fair and Unfair Pre-employment Inquiries

SubjectFair InquiryUnfair Inquiry
AgeInquiry related to birth date and proof of true age.Any inquiry not necessary to establish that applicant meets a minimum legal age requirement, including any inquiry that implies an age preference for persons under 40.
Arrest/ConvictionRequest criminal conviction history information in compliance with UW practices.Other inquiries concerning convictions and imprisonment will not be considered justified by business necessity if they do not reasonably relate to the job duties.
CitizenshipWhether 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 U.S. after being hired.If the 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.
CreditA consumer report (credit report) should not be obtained unless substantially job related or required by law, and the employer’s reasons for the use of such information is conspicuously disclosed in writing in the application materials.Inquiries about the credit worthiness, credit standing, or credit capacity of an applicant.
DisabilityIf the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job, 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 or whether an applicant requires reasonable accommodation prior to a conditional job offer. Whether an applicant has applied for or received worker’s compensation. Any inquiry that is not job related or consistent with business necessity.
FamilyIf the applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities, commitments, or responsibilities that may prevent meeting work attendance requirements.Specific inquiries concerning spouse, spouse’s gender, spouse’s employment or salary, children, childcare arrangements, or dependents.
Height/WeightNone.Any inquiry relating to height or weight.
Marital StatusNone.Any inquiry about the applicant’s marital status whether an applicant is married, single, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, has same sex spouse, etc. Any form requesting identification by Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. status.
Military/Veteran StatusInquiry concerning education, training, or work experience in the United States military to determine if an applicant receives any degree of preference in appointment.Type or condition of military discharge, request for discharge papers, an applicant’s experience in a military other than the United States military.
NameIf the 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, sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, transgender status or sex assigned at birth, lineage, ancestry, national origin, or descent. Any inquiry into the applicant’s original name where it has been changed by court order or marriage.
National OriginInquiry into the applicant’s ability to read/write/speak foreign language when such inquiries are based on job requirements.Any other inquiry into applicant’s lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, birthplace, native language, or national origin of an applicant’s parents or spouse.
OrganizationsInquiry into organization memberships, excluding any organization the name or character of which indicates the race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, marital status, religion, or national origin or ancestry of its members.Requirement that applicant list all organizations, clubs, societies, and lodges to which they belong.
PhotographNone. May request after employment for purpose of identification.Any request mandatorily, or optionally, 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 ColorNone.Any inquiry concerning race or color of skin, hair, eyes, etc.
RelativesNames of relatives currently employed by University.Any inquiry about marital status, spouse, or spouse's occupation.
Religion or CreedNone.Inquiry concerning religious preference, denomination, affiliations, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed.
ResidenceInquiry about address to the extent needed to facilitate contact with the applicant.Any other inquiry regarding with whom the applicant resides; if the applicant owns or rents.
SexNone.Any inquiry concerning sex or gender.
Sexual Orientation, Gender Expression, or Gender IdentityNone.Any inquiry regarding sexual orientation, gender expression, or sexual identity, transgender status, or sex assigned at birth.