As American recruiters, we oftentimes are handcuffed from asking direct or personal questions about our candidates. In some cases, our labor laws prevent us from doing so. Birthdates? Marital status? Fuggettaboutit!
Years ago, our firm developed an artful strategy for asking--without actually asking--a candidate about his/her requirements for working in the U.S.
BAD QUESTION (WE WILL NEVER ASK THIS): "Do you have a green card?"
GOOD QUESTION (WE'LL CAREFULLY ASK THIS): "Do you require paid authorization to work in the United States?"
The good question leads to good responses and we never get in trouble. Our client doesn't get in trouble. And the candidate gladly responds with the necessary information: "No, I have a green card." or "No, I am a U.S. citizen."
Other times, the questions we cannot ask (but need answers to) revolve around a candidate's credit history and criminal record. In the marketing space, these don't happen very much if at all. But one marketing space recruiting firm we know was asked by their client to automatically pre-screen for such information, Some in the recruiting firm want their candidates to fill out the client's job application in advance (to get the information). But others in the same firm want to avoid that, and instead, are working to come up with a question to ask about [the candidate's] credit and criminal history without actually asking for it. The verbiage they've come up with is as follows: "[Our client] operates in an environment that is sometimes prone to financial and other oversight. Because of this we are wondering, is there anything in your history that might prove problematic?"
It asks the question (without asking the question). But our recruiter friends want to know: what is the most appropriate way to ask for this kind of information?