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Appendix F - Legal Considerations

When conducting a faculty search, attention must be given to the federal, state, and local laws governing employment discrimination and to the Northwestern University Policy on Institutional Equity.

The University prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of 17 protected classes:

  • age
  • citizenship status
  • color
  • disability
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • genetic information
  • marital status
  • national origin
  • parental status
  • pregnancy
  • race
  • religion
  • reproductive health decision-making
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • veteran status

The law in areas of equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, and affirmative action is evolving and can be complex. Northwestern’s Office of General Counsel (ph 847.491.5605) and Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance (ph 847.467.6165) work closely with the Office of the Provost on these issues.

Basic Interview Guidelines

The following guidelines are based on federal, state, and local law and Northwestern University policy. As a general rule, ask only what you need to know (questions relating to the requirements of the job) and not what you would like to know (questions that do not pertain to the job and/or are personal in nature). Similarly, you should only ask interview questions that you also ask the other candidates.

Table showing permissible interview questions.


Questions NOT to ask

Permissible questions


Age, birth date, date of graduation

Expected completion date of PhD degree requirements 


Whether candidate is a US citizen

Place of birth of applicant or close relatives

Whether candidate is eligible to work in the US


Any question about a candidate’s health, medical condition, or illness

Any question that is for the purpose of eliciting information about a disability

How candidate would perform the job

Marital and family status

Questions about marital status, child care, children, pregnancy, or future plans with respect to these matters

Candidate may be provided with available information regarding Northwestern family policies and services and may be referred to appropriate campus resources (Office of the Provost, Office of Human Resources)

Race and ethnicity

Any question about candidate’s race, national origin, ethnicity, or (unless job-related) languages spoken



Questions about religious affiliation


Sex, gender identity, gender expression

Questions about maiden name or any question pertaining to only one sex


Sexual orientation

Questions about sexuality