10 Questions HR Can't Ask During an Interview

John Krautzel
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You're probably familiar with common job interview questions, such as "What is your greatest strength?" or "Why are you interested in this position?" But what about those other questions the interview tries to sneak in to uncover some personal information about you? Watch out for these 10 illegal questions HR can't ask during a job interview.

1. "Do You Have Children?"

A potential employer cannot ask job candidates if they are parents. This could lead to an unfair prejudice, as the hiring manager may choose another candidate with no family responsibilities.

2. "Are You Married?"

The way you answer this question in a job interview could lead the hiring manager to discriminate against you. The company may be reluctant to hire a recently married job candidate due to the potential for specific disruptions, such as future pregnancies or other family responsibilities.

3. "How Old Are You?"

Age discrimination is illegal, so never feel obligated to answer this question during a job interview. Watch out for tricky hiring managers who ask what year you graduated high school.

4. "What is your Religion?"

It's okay for the hiring manager to ask if you're available to work weekend hours, but he cannot ask "Do you attend church on Sundays?" Questions about your religious affiliation or any religious holidays you observe are off-limits.

5. "Are You Pregnant?"

A hiring manager should never ask if you're pregnant. It's also illegal for any potential employer to ask about your future plans to have children.

6. "When Did You Become a U.S. Citizen?"

While an organization does need to ensure its employees are legally permitted to work in the United States, it is not allowable for recruiters to ask candidates specific details about their citizenship status during a job interview.

7. "Do You Have Any Health Issues?"

A hiring manager should never ask about your physical health or inquire about ongoing medical issues. The organization may, however, verify that you're able to perform specific functions required for the position, such as lifting heavy packages.

8. "Have You Ever Been Arrested?"

While a hiring organization can perform a background check on a candidate to find out about prior arrests, it's not legal to ask this question during a job interview.

9. "Do You Drink Alcohol?"

Alcoholism is considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, making it illegal for a hiring manager to ask about a candidate's drinking habits during a job interview.

10. "Is English Your First Language?"

Employers cannot discriminate against job candidates based on national origin. Watch out for interviewers who skirt around the question by asking where you grew up or where your parents are from.

When you attend a job interview, it helps to know which questions HR can't ask. If a recruiter or hiring manager ask you one of these 10 illegal questions, remember that you don't have to respond. Respectfully tell the interviewer you decline to answer the question.

Photo courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Rebecca H thanks for your comment. If you get one that asks for your birthday, see if you can get in touch with them and ask them to remove that option. No chagrin until they get faced with a discrimination lawsuit! The sad part is that I don't think we can get around the HS grad date. What I hate is when they give you a dropdown option for the graduation year and it doesn't go back far enough. Now THAT would be discrimination and might have a case in court!

  • Rebecca H.
    Rebecca H.

    I have found that on most applications I have reviewed before applying, asking when I graduated high school is common. On some sites, asking for your birthdate is readily asked. No chagrin at breaking the law whatsoever!

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