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What You Can and Can’t Ask a Veteran in a Job Interview

Written by  Krista Williams, Strategic Director, Seven Step RPO

Hiring managers and recruiters need to be aware that there are certain questions they can and cannot ask military veterans during job interviews. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects the rights of veterans during civilian job interviews.

What you CAN'T ask:

  • About Guard/Reserve training time requirements or potential deployments. The USERRA protects military service members from being discriminated against for their time required for service.

  • About the type of discharge they received. We’ve all heard of honorable versus dishonorable discharges. But it’s more complex than that. What IS okay to ask is if they received a favorable discharge, just limit it to a “yes or no” answer. FYI, a service member can receive a discharge that is less than honorable, but still favorable for a variety of reasons.

  • Do you have PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury? Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants or employees with disabilities.

What you CAN ask:

  • Whether they have served in the military. The applicant can choose not to answer the question. If the veteran says yes, he or she is required to provide only the following information:

    1. Period of service (years)
    2. Rank/grade at time of discharge
    3. Type of training and work experience receive while in service as relevant to the job they are interviewing for

  • Have you read the full job description? Will you be able to perform all duties and responsibilities as indicated in the job description? This allows the applicant to answer yes or no, without disclosing disabilities.

  • Transferability questions. Frame your questions around types of job skills that are needed at your organization and for the particular role you are interviewing for, such as: personnel management, training, interpersonal communication, problem solving, process improvement, etc.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information provided is general in nature and may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. To learn more about hiring and interviewing veterans, see the Guide to Hiring Veterans from the White House Business Council or contact an attorney.

Krista Williams Krista Williams brings over 15 years of Recruiting and Human Resources experience to her role as a Strategic Director with Seven Step RPO. In this role she is responsible for ensuring that all assigned client service delivery objectives are achieved. Krista focuses on driving team compliance and production to meet expectations as well as building and fostering client relationships. She is passionate about driving innovation as well as attracting, attaining, and retaining the best possible talent. Prior to joining Seven Step, Krista worked in corporate positions managing various aspects of recruiting, human resource systems, and vendor relationships in industries including healthcare, retail, banking, energy services, travel/hospitality, and contingent agency recruitment for companies ranging in size from a boutique firm with 10 individuals to a Fortune 15 company with over 200,000 employees. Krista works out of Seven Step’s Boston office and resides in Riverside, RI with her husband and two children.

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