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The German Federal Labor Court recently passed a decision that dealt with what questions employers can and cannot ask in interviews with job applicants. Employers are entitled to ask job applicants questions as long and to the extent they have a “legitimate interest worth of approval and protection” in the response to such questions. It is required that the interest of the employer to obtain the requested information outweighs the interest of the employee to protect his personal privacy. By applying German data protection law, the Court ruled that companies do not have any legitimate interest to know about preliminary investigations that do not lead to criminal conviction. The new decision is another example for the growing sensibility among the German labor courts regarding the collection and use of personal data of employees, during the employment, but also prior to an employment. Respective limitations are not only prescribed by the courts with regard to the collection of personal data during interviews, they are also discussed with regard to the collection of personal data in publicly available Social Media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Companies are requested to carefully consider what information is in fact needed for the concrete position prior to entering into interviews with their candidates.

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