These 8 Interview Questions are Illegal so Do Not Answer Them

John Krautzel
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When you're preparing for a job interview, it's a smart idea to research common interview questions and practice your responses. But what do you do when you're faced with an interview question that just seems too personal? Discover eight illegal questions you should avoid answering in a job interview.

1. "How Old Are You?"

While companies do have to take care not to hire minors, it's not okay for a hiring manager to ask your age during a job interview. Your response could bias the hiring decision, and age discrimination is illegal. If you're asked this question, decline to give an answer while pointing out that you have plenty of experience to qualify for the position.

2. "Do You Have Any Health Issues?"

Interviewers have no right to ask you about your physical health or any ongoing medical issues. It is, however, within the potential employer's rights to ask about your ability to perform certain functions of the position, such as lifting 50-pound packages or being on your feet for long hours.

3. "Are You Married?"

An interviewer may use this question to garner information on your sexual orientation, gender or family plans, and all of these constitute protected classes, making the question illegal. While it may seem like the hiring manager is just trying to make small talk or get to know you, don't feel obligated to answer.

4. "Do You Plan to Have Children?"

Any job interview question that relates to family planning is considered illegal, because it falls under the category of pregnancy discrimination. If you're currently pregnant, it's even illegal for the interviewer to ask your due date.

5. "What Is Your Religious Affiliation?"

Even if an interviewer wants to ensure that you're able to work weekends, it's illegal for him to ask about your religion. Politely relay that you prefer not to discuss the topic, but assure the recruiter that you're available to work the hours necessary for the position.

6. "What Country Are You From?"

While hiring managers do have to ensure that candidates are authorized to work in the country in which the job is located, any job interview question that asks about your ethnicity or race is illegal. Additionally, interviewers cannot ask whether English is your first language.

7. "What Year Did You Graduate from High School?"

Some interviewers may sneak this question in to calculate your age without specifically asking for it, but it's also illegal. If you're uncomfortable providing your graduation date, simply ask the hiring manager how it affects your ability to do the job.

8. "Have You Ever Been Arrested?

Hiring managers may ask whether you have been convicted of a crime, and it's well within the company's rights to perform a background check to obtain the information, but it is illegal for the interviewer to ask about your arrest record.

Any question that inquires about a candidate's status in a protected class, such as race, age, religion or sexual orientation, is considered to be illegal, and you don't have to respond. When faced with an illegal question during a job interview, politely tell the interviewer that you prefer not to answer. If the questions persist and you feel uncomfortable, consider the interviewer's behavior to be representative of the company culture, and end the meeting.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Rich M thanks for your comment. The action by your coworker isn't exclusive to those who do not understand English. I have worked with many people who spoke English who didn't want to do the job - wanted someone else to do it for them but wanted to get paid and take the credit. It's not your fault that your co-worker didn't want to learn. Remember, you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Same would be true here. As long as you did your best to teach this person, your conscience should be clear.

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    The question about what country are you from, seems way out of line, but how do work with people who don't understand English? I know it's hard for them, but it's just as hard for us who don't understand them. I have found that, they may understand the job, but if they don't want to do it, they say they don't and they do something easier, which is what they wanted. But all in all, I did my job and gave up trying to help others if I wasn't there. If this sounded cruel, it wasn't meant to. I tried to teach a fellow employee a couple of years to do my job if I wasn't there and he didn't want to learn. I wasn't forcing him, I took upon myself to teach him because we had some time to spare. Two weeks after I was let go, he was let go. I think it was because he didn't know what to do.

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