Pre-employment guide

Information for Search Committees

Please read the guide here, for an overview of lawful and unlawful pre-employment inquiries. The guide has been adapted from the Maine Human Rights Commission's guidelines. Personal questions, especially those related to protected class status should be avoided in any search process. Protected classes include: race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, parental status, marital status, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Please contact the EEO office ( or ext. 4733) if you have any questions about the guide or the following information.

        General Rules for Search Committees

  • All questions during the search process should be relevant to the position being filled.
  • All search committee members should be familiar with the job description and essential duties of the position.
  • Interview questions should be similar for all applicants - it is helpful to write down relevant questions before the interview.
  • Caution all search committee members which questions not to ask of job applicants.
  • If an applicant brings up any of the protected class topics, such as family and children, disability, or religion, it is best to not dwell on such information and to not ask any follow-up questions that may elicit further information
  • Note taking, if done, should be in a neutral language and not include any information regarding a protected class.

Strategies for handling protected class information if volunteered by applicant

  • Search committee members should quickly move the discussion back to job related information.Do not take notes on personal information.
  • If an applicant volunteers information which would be illegal to request, the search committee may not use that information as a basis for rejecting the applicant or in the rating process – liability for discrimination exists, regardless of whether the information was unlawfully solicited or volunteered.
  • If an applicant brings up any protected class information, the search committee can explain that Colby makes employment decisions based on a person's qualifications – not any other factor. 
  • If an applicant brings up a disability, the search committee can explain that the Colby is committed to considering a reasonable accommodation after a tentative job offer has been made.
  • Search committee members should not solicit more information regarding any protected status. Instead, answer questions directly or refer the applicant to others not on the committee (ex. HR & EEO) who may be able to provide additional information sought by the candidate.