Illegal Interview Questions

Most HR professionals know questions regarding age, race, ethnicity, gender, and disability are off-limits during an interview and can’t be used to decide whether or not a job offer is extended to a candidate. However, others involved in the interview process may inadvertently make inquiries that could have legal ramifications. Here are some common questions that are actually prohibited.

Have you ever been arrested?
An employer can’t legally ask about an arrest record, but can ask an applicant if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime.

Are you married?
Although one may harmlessly ask this question, it’s illegal because it reveals spousal status and could also disclose sexual orientation.

How long have you been working?
This question allows employers to guess an applicant’s age, which is illegal. But, an interviewer can ask how long they’ve worked in a certain industry.

What religious holidays do you practice?
This question reveals an individual’s religion and is unlawful however it is legal to ask if they’re available to work on days of religious observances.

What country are you from?
If a candidate has an accent, this may seem like an innocent question, but it’s illegal because it involves the person’s national origin.

Do you socially drink?
Interviewers cannot ask about drinking habits, because it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What type of discharge did you receive from the military?
This is not appropriate to ask, however it is okay to inquire about the type of education and training a candidate has received while in the military.

Employment laws are constantly changing and what was acceptable yesterday could be illegal today. So, everyone needs to keep up to date with changes. “Oh, we didn’t know we were not supposed to ask that” is NOT an appropriate response to claims of wrongful hiring practices!


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