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Question added to topic Human ResourcesFebruary 17, 2009

Can I ask health-related questions during an interview?

We hire seasonal workers to do manual labor. Are there questions that can/cannot be asked at the time of hire regarding previous health-related issues that might hamper their doing this job (i.e. back injury, hernias)?
The right way to address this issue is to have identified ahead of time specifically what the physical requirements for each job are. Then, show the physical requirements to the individual you are interviewing and ask him if he feels confident that he can do the job. You may still encounter some people who think that they can do the work required -- but actually cannot. However, having new hires sign-off on the physical requirements before coming on board will help to prevent this from happening very often.

Using the following criteria as a template may help:

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

How often does this position engage in the following functions (sometimes, recurrently or never)?

- Bracing or balancing
- Walking or running
- Sitting
- Speaking or listening
- Using feet or hands to grip, hold, push, climb
- Bending, stooping, kneeling or crawling
- Lifting: Up to 15 pounds, 16 to 30 pounds, 31 to 60 pounds, 61 to 100 pounds, more than 100 pounds.

Penny is a seasoned human resources executive and consultant with over 25 years of diverse business experience in advising enterprise leaders on employment-related matters.

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