employee retention on a post it note

Top Talent Retention Strategy: Train Management to Monitor Employee Satisfaction

By Nicole Martin


How satisfied are your employees with their jobs? If you don’t know, you’re in danger of losing them.

The key to retaining top talent is making sure they are happy. You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, they haven’t complained . . .” Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Just because your workers haven’t come to you with concerns or don’t appear disgruntled doesn’t mean that they like their jobs. Their staying quiet could actually be a red flag, as they might not feel comfortable enough, or care enough, to approach you. 

Because silence doesn’t equal approval, and the estimated cost of employee turnover is 33% of employee annualized salary, it’s important that management know how to monitor employee satisfaction.  As the talent management leader at Monarch HR Consulting, I routinely help organizations devise employee satisfaction measurement strategies. Below are a few of the tools I like to use.

Tools for Monitoring Employee Satisfaction 

Human Observation

This may sound simple, but human observation can be a powerful way to monitor satisfaction. Is your talent enthusiastic when they come into the workplace? Do they appear to be motivated to do their tasks? Do they engage with other team members? Are they meeting deadlines? Are they producing quality work? Do they ask for more challenging assignments? How often are they absent? The answers to these questions will give you insight into whether your talent are content in their roles.


A well-organized anonymous survey, whether it’s a longer annual survey or a short pulse questionnaire, can help you gauge employee satisfaction. The questions should focus on culture, benefits, career development, job satisfaction, communication, teamwork, engagement, and performance. Make sure the questions are easy to understand and answer.

Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)

The eNPS helps management determine how employees feel about the company based on one single question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this company’s products and services to others?” A 9 or 10 indicates the employee is a promoter. 7 or 8 indicates that they are passive, meaning they don’t feel strongly one way or the other. 0 to 6 refers to detractors, i.e., those who are not happy with their job and are likely to jump ship.

Employee Satisfaction Index (ESI)

The ESI is a great tool for measuring the contentment of talent. It is a survey that asks a series of questions with answers ranking on a scale, usually between 1 and 10. You use a formula to calculate the ESI percentage. Below is a common baseline:

  • 80-100: Very high satisfaction
  • 70-79: High satisfaction
  • 60-69: Acceptable satisfaction
  • 50-60: Low satisfaction
  • 0-50: Very low satisfaction 

Regular Meetings

Although not anonymous, a one-on-one meeting can provide valuable feedback and data – if you ask the right questions. This gives talent the opportunity to raise any issues and concerns, as well as management the ability to tap into how the employee feels about their performance, career development goals, workload, obstacles, tasks, job expectations, and more.

Suggestion Boxes

Many employees have something to say, but don’t want management to know it is they who are saying it. A suggestion box allows your workforce to anonymously share their thoughts and opinions in a safe setting.

artificial intelligence

AI Has Made Reskilling Inevitable 

 By Nicole Martin


AI is infiltrating our lives at an unprecedented speed. Its easy access and powerful capabilities have both employees and leaders questioning if AI will actually lead to job obsolescence, replacements, and layoffs. Such possibilities are supported by outcomes of past technological advances. Just look at how online shopping devastated physical retail stores, or the way self checkouts are systematically eliminating cashier positions. The concern is real. So how will this new, evolving technology actually affect the workforce?

According to a recent IBM study, AI is directly impacting business models, as companies utilize the technology to perform specific tasks. Executives feel, however, that the shift in businesses and their workforce is not necessarily for the worse. 87% believe that employees are more likely to be augmented than replaced by generative AI – but this doesn’t mean that all positions are safe. Based on the survey:

  • 97% of executives think employees in procurement are more likely to be augmented than replaced
  • 93% for employees in risk and compliance
  • 93% for finance
  • 77% for customer service
  • 73% for marketing

As AI takes on more manual and repetitive tasks, the skills gap grows, making employee reskilling inevitable. The executives surveyed estimate that 40% of workers will have to reskill in the next three years because of AI. 

Human resources will be integral in addressing the implementation of AI. As the Talent Management leader at Monarch HR Consulting, I’m already helping our clients assess their current operating models and processes to determine where AI makes sense, train talent to utilize it, address how the technology will result in a workforce shift, and more. 

AI is definitely expanding the role of human resources. Moving forward, HR teams will need to:

  • Prepare the workforce for the implementation of AI by training them on how to use it, moving people into new roles, creating new roles, or reskilling
  • Communicate with workers to find out how AI can make their jobs easier
  • Identify the needed roles and skills for the future of the organization considering where AI fits in
  • Assess the ethical use of AI for tasks and how to mitigate any downsides
  • Create processes for AI regulation and compliance, and train employees on that compliance

Interestingly enough, AI can help HR teams execute these tasks, as well as streamline recruiting, employee engagement, and employee development initiatives.  

AI is part of the new workplace. Organizations and their workforces will need to embrace it and leverage it if they want to compete and stay relevant. 

pay structure with coins and people figures

How to Design a Pay Structure

By Kimberly Kafafian


Did you know there is a systematic way to analyze your employee compensation packages? If not, now is the time to invest in developing a formal pay structure; the right pay structure can make all the difference in the success of your company. A methodically devised pay structure considers more than compensation; it reflects a strategic approach to talent acquisition, motivation and retention – all of which impact success and long-term viability. 

I spent the first 15-years of my HR career designing and calibrating pay structures so they remained market sensitive – meaning that as the marketplace ebbs and flows, so does the cost of labor. In designing a pay framework that aligns with industry standards, job roles, and individual contributions, organizations are better positioned to attract and retain top talent, foster a culture of fairness and transparency, and enhance employee engagement and morale, which in turn boosts productivity, and growth. 

Key Steps for Designing a Pay Structure

Understand Your Goals and Values

The very first step is to identify your overall compensation policy. Do you want to lead or meet the market in terms of compensation? If you want to be a leader who attracts and retains the very best talent to drive the optimal results, you will need to offer a more competitive compensation package. Your answer sets the strategy for your pay structure.

Conduct a Job Analysis

Next, analyze every job role in your organization, noting:

  • Responsibilities
  • Relation, and importance, to other roles
  • Necessary qualifications
  • Skills needed to perform the job

Create Job Groups

Now review the culled job role data and group roles into related families, i.e., administrative, technical, creative, management, executive, etc..

Rank Job Roles

After you have created the groups, rank the jobs within each group. You can use a more informal hierarchy approach based on the value/worth of the role compared to other roles in the group, or, you can use a point factor approach that allocates points for the skills, effort, and working conditions for each role.

Do Your Research

To run a successful organization, you need to offer a competitive pay structure if you want to attract and motivate your workers. Research the salaries your competitors are paying for similar job roles. You can purchase salary data and utilize market surveys, as well as gather info from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Create Pay Grades and Salary Ranges. 

Now you are ready to design the actual pay structure. Using the salary data you gathered, create pay grades and salary ranges for each job role. Pay grade refers to the level of compensation for workers in a certain position or similar jobs, while salary range reflects the minimum and maximum pay for an employee. Keep in mind that the typical salary range is 30% to 40%. 

By following the above steps, you will have designed compensation numbers that are more in line with your goals and the competition. While designing a pay structure is an in-depth process, the long and short-term benefits are well worth the investment. Note that your pay structure should be fluid, so regularly review it to make sure it’s still aligned with market trends and employee expectations. 

As HR specialists with a pulse on the market, we can help you effectively design a pay structure to help you attract and retain the talent you need to succeed. Schedule a free consultation.

magnet attracting top talent

How to Attract the Best Talent for Your Company

By Nicole Martin


The applications are coming in. The resumes look promising. But when interviewing candidates, you’re just not finding the right fit. As Monarch’s Head of Talent Management, I hear this a lot from our clients, along with similar complaints that although the interviews went well, the new hires are not living up to expectations. While there is no magic wand you can wave to find the right workers, I like to think I work some magic in helping clients attract and retain the best talent for their companies. Here’s a peek at some of the strategies that make my initiatives so successful. 

8 Elements for Effective Talent Acquisition

Attracting top talent is a talent in itself, and in my case one formed from trial and error, along with the advice from some great mentors. From identifying needs to writing the job description to building the right culture, every little detail of an employment recruitment strategy must be nuanced. If you’re to find talented workers who are going to stand the test of time, then you need to put the time into developing and implementing an effective strategy. I’ve found that a successful hiring process includes the elements outlined below.


Everything starts with having the right culture. It can make all the difference in whether someone even takes the time to apply to your company. Invest in learning what workers in your industry are looking for in an employer and build those things into your company’s culture, which today typically includes:

  • Feeling appreciated, valued, recognized, and celebrated
  • Flexibility in where and when you work
  • Perks like free lunches or a day off on your birthday

Adding comments and testimonials from employees to your website can help candidates get a feel for what it’s like to work for your company.


Now more than ever, you need to build a reputation as a company for which people WANT to work. Task HR, PR and marketing teams with spreading the word by working together on brand awareness. The goal is to generate buzz to make candidates excited to apply to your organization. 

Job Fulfillment

People want to work where they feel like they are making a difference, that their efforts matter and are contributing to something greater. So, it’s important to create a workplace where voices are heard, contributions are celebrated, and workers understand the roles they play in achieving results. 

Career Progression

Professional development is a talent lead magnet. Candidates want to know that the company offers opportunities, as well as guidance, for growth. Providing education, training, upskilling and re-skilling opportunities is an attractive selling point for your organization because it lets potential hires know that you are committed to helping them progress in their careers. 


To find the right fit, you must first identify exactly what it is you are looking for in an employee. Determine your current and future talent gaps. Be precise in your expectations, hard skills, soft skills, experience, background, and desirable candidate aspirations. 

Detailed Description

Now, take all of the elements above and write a robust job description. Fully explain the job responsibilities, required qualifications, preferred qualifications, and benefits. Be sure to also include information about what makes your culture unique, your company’s key strengths, and what you can offer a candidate. Think of this as your sales pitch – you want to attract and persuade top talent to apply. And please don’t forget to make the description legally compliant! 

Advertising Channels

Once you have the job description finalized, consider where you want to post it. Of course, it should be on the careers section of your website, as well as the relevant job posting sites for your industry and the position. Be sure to share that you’re hiring on your social media channels as well. 

The Candidate Experience

Now that you have your foundation in place, follow through by creating a superior candidate experience. By this, I mean how candidates feel about your company once they have experienced your hiring process. Here are some tips on how to improve it:

  • Make it easy for candidates to apply by streamlining your application process
  • Communicate with candidates during each step of the process, including receipt of the application
  • Be clear about what candidates can expect from in-person/virtual interviews
  • Make sure the interviewer is prepared for the interview, gives their full attention, and develops a good interpersonal relationship with the candidate
  • Let candidates know you are no longer considering them as soon as you can do so
  • Maintain connections with those candidates you may consider for future positions

Hopefully the above tips will help you develop a hiring process that will help your company attract the best talent possible.

Employee Rights in Workplace Investigations

By Kimberly Kafafian


It’s usually not a matter of if, but rather when, you’ll receive a workplace complaint. In fact, over the last six months, my company has seen a significant uptick in requests to conduct workplace investigations. These investigations are typically prompted by an employee’s concern over the behaviors of others, such as harassment or discrimination. Investigations are also launched by a company due to a violation of company policies or laws, or other action that could affect workplace safety and security. As an unbiased third-party, a trained Monarch employee will review the complaint, and collect evidence and facts to determine if any actions are necessary, including termination. 

While conducting the investigation, we may interview employees and ask them to provide us with documentation such as emails, texts, or statements. We may also review records, logs, surveillance videos, etc. While our scope may be broad, we do not have free rein. Employees have rights, and we must adhere to them as we investigate.

Rights Employees Have During an HR Investigation

A workplace investigation is just that, an investigation. It is not a legal proceeding, so the right to due process does not apply. Although as part of their employment, employees are expected to cooperate with investigations, provide any documents or information requested, and be honest, they do have the following rights:

The Right to Decline to Answer Questions

Employees cannot be compelled to provide answers to questions. They may refuse to answer at any time. But invoking the right to not answer can have consequences. If the employee signed an employment contract that requires them to cooperate and answer questions, the employer can terminate the employee for not cooperating. Additionally, if the investigation is related to a criminal act, the employer can contact law enforcement who may continue the investigation themselves.

The Right to Refuse to Sign Something

Employees do not have to sign anything during a workplace investigation, even if they are asked to do so by their employer or the investigator. For example, the investigator may ask the employee to sign a document acknowledging their participation in the investigation and/or that they agree to cooperate. While the employer can ask them to do so, it cannot compel them to. They are free to refuse.

The Right to Privacy

Employers must respect an employee’s right to privacy. They cannot record phone calls or interviews in violation of state wiretapping laws or search through a cell phone without consent. Typically, some privacy rights are waived by signing an employee contract or handbook, which frequently provide employers access to review work emails, monitor computer usage, and search belongings brought onto the workplace. 

It is important to note that being a part of an investigation is a protected activity. When I conduct an investigation, I always review the following with the person I am speaking with: 

  • Retaliation for making a report of misconduct or harassment is forbidden by the company.
  • You must immediately advise either me or your human resources department of any perceived retaliation or of further incidents of misconduct or harassment.
  • I need to inform you that all types of retaliation are forbidden, including: demoting, transferring, or dismissing you or any employee involved in this investigation.

Conducting a workplace investigation is best left to the professionals who understand the types of actions that can and cannot be taken. If you violate an employee’s rights, you open the organization up to a lawsuit. 

Need assistance with an investigation? Our HR team can help. Call to schedule a consultation.


Employee Productivity vs Hours Worked

By Kimberly Kafafian


If you want to boost your employees’ productivity, you might want to consider cutting back on the number of hours they work. At least that’s what the takeaway is from a new study by the non-profit organization 4 Day Week Global.  

The organization’s research shows that workers can get as much work done in a 33-hour week as in 38 hours. How is that possible? By working more efficiently. It appears that employees who work four days vs five are making changes in how they work as opposed to speeding up and cramming the same work into a shorter time period – with better results! 

In addition to the enhanced productivity, companies also saw:

  • Revenue increase by 15% over the course of the trial
  • Boost in attracting new employees
  • Reduction in the number of employees considering leaving their jobs

100% of the companies who were part of this pilot program are definitely planning or leaning towards continuing their four day week. Now, that’s quite a testament!

While this study produced amazing results, I recognize that not every business is open to the concept of, or able to segue into, a four day work week. I am sharing these results mainly to draw attention to the fact that productivity and hours worked are not synonymous. Business owners, leaders, and managers should not conflate the quality with the quantity of work.

Productivity Is the Real Measure

The pandemic brought a shift in when we work and how we work. Rather than be a strict taskmaster tracking the exact number of hours clocked, leadership should be focusing on the output. Hours just measure how long someone worked, while productivity measures how well they worked, which is more directly correlated to the bottom line. 

Assessing Productivity vs Hours

Analyzing the differences between employee productivity and the set hours worked can help leadership get a full picture of the connection and reassess productivity goals. Why? Because working more hours doesn’t necessarily produce greater output; in fact, as the study reveals it may even reduce it. By conducting such an assessment, you might find that you should be leveraging different tools or software to help your workforce maximize efficiency, or that your workforce is taking a significant amount of sick days around intense work periods. 

When you focus on maximizing productivity rather than time worked, you can boost morale, reduce burnout, and increase retention – and that’s a win for everyone. 


does a small business need hr search query

Does a Small Business Need HR?

By Dan Darabaris


As a small business owner, you’re probably used to wearing many hats and juggling various responsibilities – manager, sales, bookkeeper, etc. If you’re handling HR activities as well, you may want to rethink your strategy of doing it all on your own. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense for a small business, having a human resources professional on your team helps to foster growth, ensure compliance, and nurture a positive work environment that can help you attract and retain the right employees to boost productivity and profits. If you are concerned about the cost, hiring a full-time HR pro may not be necessary for a small business. You can outsource all of your HR needs or simply retain a professional on an as-needed project basis

Why Small Businesses Need HR Help and How It Can Contribute to Long-Term Success


Talent Acquisition and Retention

Attracting and retaining the right workforce is critical for any business, regardless of its size. HR professionals have the skills to develop recruitment strategies, conduct interviews, and assess candidates to find the right fit for your company’s needs. Plus, they can create comprehensive onboarding processes to bolster employee engagement and satisfaction, increasing the likelihood of retaining those workers long term.

Compliance with Employment Laws

Are you knowledgeable on all the compliance requirements your business must adhere to? Navigating employment laws can be daunting, especially for small business owners who probably don’t have an HR or legal background. HR professionals stay up to date on the ever-evolving labor laws, ensuring that your business remains compliant in areas such as hiring, payroll, employment contracts, workplace safety, fair compensation, and even filing requirements. Having them on your team can minimize costly fines and potential legal actions.

Employee Training, Development, and Performance Management

Investing in the growth and development of your employees is essential for building a successful business. HR professionals can design training programs, devise career development offerings, provide guidance on career advancement opportunities, and oversee performance reviews. By having an HR pro help foster a culture of continuous learning, you can improve employee productivity, engagement, and overall performance.

Employee Relations and Conflict Resolution

No matter how happy your workplace may be, conflicts and disputes may arise. HR professionals are trained to objectively mediate conflicts, address grievances, conduct investigation, and promote effective communication among employees. A neutral HR professional can help you maintain a positive work environment and prevent potential disruptions that could impact your business’s bottom line.

Policy Development and Implementation

Having clear policies and procedures in place is important for ensuring consistency and fairness. HR professionals can develop employee handbooks that outline guidelines for expected behavior, attendance, vacation time, leave policies, personal internet use, performance assessments, consequences for violating policies, and more. They also play a key role in implementing such policies and ensuring that they are effectively communicated to all of your employees.

Benefits Administration and Employee Well-Being

Happy and healthy employees are vital to a business’s success. HR professionals can design and administer employee benefits packages, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs. They can also develop well-being initiatives that focus on work-life balance and mental health. 

Although a small business may have limited resources, investing in HR support yields valuable short and long term benefits. By outsourcing HR functions, business owners can spend more time on building their business, trust they are compliant with employment laws, and create a more positive work environment to drive overall organizational success.

The right level of HR engagement is YOUR choice to make.

From on-demand to year-long support, Monarch helps manage your people, reduce your administrative workload, and free up time so you can focus on business success.

Call or email us to arrange a complimentary consult.

line of job applicants

8 Hiring Strategies for Small Businesses

By Dan Darabaris


In today’s employment landscape, it’s getting more difficult for small businesses to find the right mix of talent. Taking the time to invest in devising an effective hiring strategy is key to attracting the workers you need for your company to thrive and grow. Here are eight strategies to help you capture job seekers’ attention, make a good first impression, and hire the top candidates.

1. Build a Strong Brand

Today’s job seekers are doing their research. Before they apply, they’re assessing your company’s reputation. Do you have a great culture? Offer opportunities for advancement? Have a purpose candidates can identify with? Building a strong brand is crucial for attracting top talent. Your brand should be highlighted on your website and social media platforms, as well as promoted in your messaging. Leverage your unique selling points, such as an entrepreneurial work culture, opportunities for growth, and the chance to make a meaningful impact to create a positive employer image. Share employee testimonials to give candidates a glimpse into your organization’s culture and values.

2. Create Compelling Job Descriptions

An attention-grabbing job description is a key hiring strategy. The description should have a title that catches the eye, followed by a summary that excites job seekers about the position. Be sure to include the responsibilities and the soft/hard skills you are seeking, but don’t just stop there. Promote your company’s culture and selling points. The goal is to make sure candidates have a clear understanding of the role and why they should apply to work with your company.

3. Explore Diverse Channels

Cast a wide net when it comes to advertising your openings. Job boards and matching/hiring platforms like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are top channels, but you should also expand your visibility. Share postings with your social media networks, including LinkedIn, as they might know someone who is a good fit. Engage with community organizations, attend job fairs, and build relationships with colleges. Take part in networking events and join industry-specific associations. Leveraging all of these channels can help small businesses tap into a broader talent pool.

4. Scan Resumes Posted Online

Simply enter a job title or a skill along with a city and state or a zip code, and let online resume sites send you a list of potential candidates. You can filter the results by experience, education level, skills, and more, and even set up an alert when the candidates meet your set criteria.

5. Start an Employee Referral Program

If you have a great team in place, tap into them as a hiring resource. Successful people usually surround themselves with those with similar traits. Set up an employee referral program to expand your pool of qualified prospects by encouraging your employees to spread the word about your openings.  

6. Stand Out With Sponsored Postings

To get noticed in a crowded space, consider paid job postings. These posts appear more often in the search results, plus you typically receive a list of candidates whose qualifications match what you are looking for.

7. Streamline Your Application Process

If you’ve ever applied for a job online, you know some applications can make you want to hit the back button! Ensure candidates can easily apply for positions by simplifying and streamlining your application process. And always acknowledge the receipt of applications to maintain a positive candidate experience and keep them engaged in your hiring process.

8. Conduct Behavioral Interviews

One of the best ways to assess a candidate’s fit for the job is to conduct a behavioral interview. Ask questions that allow the candidate to share specific examples of their skills, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork experiences. These types of questions will give you insight into how they handle real-life situations and their decision-making capabilities, which will help you assess how they fit within your organization.


Hopefully these hiring strategies will help your small business attract the right candidates for your open positions.


The right level of HR engagement is YOUR choice to make.

From on-demand to year-long support, Monarch helps manage your people, reduce your administrative workload, and free up time so you can focus on business success.

Call or email us to arrange a complimentary consult.

image of an employee handbook

Do Small Businesses Need an Employee Handbook? 

By Dan Darabaris


“I only have a few employees, do I really need a handbook?” This is a question we get a lot, and our answer is always an unequivocal yes!

While you are not legally required to have an employee handbook, creating one is good for business, whether you are a large corporation with an extensive workforce or a small business with only a handful of workers. Here are five reasons why.


Why Your Business Should Create an Employee Handbook 


1. Communicates Your Mission, Vision and Values

Everything your company does should be founded on your mission, vision, and values. So, it’s important that your employees understand and embrace them. When you outline why your company exists, what you want to accomplish, and why you do what you do in an employee handbook, your workers have a better grasp on your purpose, making them more inclined to want to be an integral part of your organization.

2. Outlines Policies and Expectations

An employee handbook clearly lets employees know what behavior is and is not OK in the workplace. Think of it as a guide of what is expected and how your workers should conduct themselves. By outlining the policies and procedures employees need to follow, from start times and overtime to personal internet use, along with the repercussions for failing to do so, you can save yourself from headaches and possible legal problems based on miscommunication or misunderstanding. 

3. Streamlines Onboarding

A handbook is also helpful for new hires as it can help them more quickly acclimate to the workplace and settle into their new position. Rather than guess at something or ask management, the employee can simply reference the handbook to find answers to many of their questions.

4. Ensures Consistent Enforcement

When you put your policies and procedures in writing, you are more likely to have uniform and consistent enforcement of them. Having them contained within the employee handbook helps ensure management is following the same roadmap for all workers.

5. Reduces Conflict and Creates a Positive Culture

If you don’t clearly define your policies and procedures and how you will enforce them, there can be miscommunication and inconsistent enforcement. This can lead to actual, or misperceptions of, unfair treatment and/or allegations of discrimination, creating a negative or toxic workplace culture. Codifying everything in your employee handbook can alleviate misunderstandings, help ensure everyone is treated in the same way, and create an environment where employees feel respected, which can enhance productivity.

If you want to create an employee handbook for your company, we’re happy to help. Contact us to learn more.

The right level of HR engagement is YOUR choice to make.

From on-demand to year-long support, Monarch helps manage your people, reduce your administrative workload, and free up time so you can focus on business success.

Call or email us to arrange a complimentary consult.

interview between employer and employee

Questions Employers Cannot Ask During an Interview

By Dan Darabaris


In your zest for finding the right candidate for your team, don’t lose sight of compliance. It is important that whoever is doing the interviewing knows what they can and cannot ask the candidates. There are topics you should just not broach. That is a question employers should definitely avoid. Not knowing what you can and cannot ask during an interview could open your organization up to a discrimination lawsuit and investigation by the EEOC. Let’s break down what is illegal to ask, along with the gray areas.

Illegal Interview Questions

When interviewing, it is illegal for employers to directly ask about:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Sex or Sexual Orientation
  • Citizenship
  • Birthplace or Country of Origin
  • Marital Status, Family or Pregnancy
  • Race, color or ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Disability

It is important to point out a caveat here, as sometimes the government may require employers to ask about race, age, and other information for census data purposes or affirmative action programs.

Gray Areas

Now let’s get into the fine line of questioning. There are many questions you can’t ask, and there are other related questions that you can ask about. Knowing the nuances is critical. The following examples should help clarify this.]


Can’t Ask:

  • What year were you born?
  • What’s your birth date?
  • How old are you?
  • When did you graduate high school?

Can Ask:

  • If age is directly related to the job, such as working in a bar, you are allowed to ask about the candidate’s age – for example, are you at least 21 years old…

Citizenship or National Origin

Can’t Ask:

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • What country are you from?
  • What country are your parents from?
  • Where were you born?
  • Can you provide a birth certificate?
  • What’s your background?
  • How did you learn (a specific language)?

Can Ask:

  • Are you legally eligible to work in the U.S.?
  • If we hire you, are you able to show proof of citizenship/visa/alien registration?
  • Can you speak, read and write English?


Can’t Ask:

  • What is your race?
  • What is your nationality?
  • What is your color?
  • What is your ethnic background?

Can Ask:

  • No gray area here!

Marital/Family Status

Can’t Ask:

  • Are you single?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have any children?
  • Do you have plans to start a family?
  • Are you pregnant?

Can Ask:

  • Can you perform the duties of this position?
  • Can you work overtime if needed?
  • Can you travel on short notice?


Can’t Ask:

  • What religion do you practice?
  • Are you religious?
  • Who is your pastor?

Can Ask:

  • No gray area here!


Can’t Ask:

  • Do you have a disability?
  • Have you ever been injured in the workplace?
  • Have you ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?

Can Ask:

  • Can you perform the duties as outlined in the job description?

Height and Weight

Can’t Ask:

  • How tall are you?
  • How much do you weigh?

Can Ask:

  • Can you perform all the duties as outlined in the job description?

Financial Information

Can’t Ask:

  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Do you have any debts?
  • Do you have a bank account?
  • Have you ever declared bankruptcy?
  • Have your wages ever been garnished?

Can Ask:

  • If owning a car is required for the position, you can ask if the candidate owns a car.

Work Availability

Can’t Ask:

  • Don’t directly ask about weekend work, as this can be tied to inquiries about religion. 
  • Don’t ask about evening work, as this can be tied to questions about childcare.

Can Ask:

  • What days and shifts are you available to work?
  • Are there any responsibilities that would prevent you from traveling for work?
  • Do you have reliable transportation for work?


Can’t Ask:

  • This is a very gray area. Do not ask questions about arrests if it is not directly related to the position. Know the law in your state, as some states do not allow you to ask about arrests. 

Can Ask:

  • You can ask about arrests if it is directly related to the position, but this is definitely a gray area.


Can’t Ask:

  • Don’t ask questions about convictions that are not related to the role or for roles that are not security related.

Can Ask:

  • You can ask about convictions if the position is a security sensitive one – working with large sums of money, working unsupervised.

Personal Information

Can’t Ask:

  • Did you belong to a sorority/fraternity?
  • Did you ever change your name?
  • What is your maiden name?

Can Ask:

  • Are you a member of any professional organizations?

Salary History

Many states are adopting bans on asking about a candidate’s salary history. Please make sure you know your state’s laws on salary history questions, and when they are or are not permissible.


Hopefully this list helps clarify what employers cannot ask while interviewing a job candidate.


The right level of HR engagement is YOUR choice to make.

From on-demand to year-long support, Monarch helps manage your people, reduce your administrative workload, and free up time so you can focus on business success.

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