Three Interview Questions That Are Actually Illegal

John Krautzel
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Whether you are an applicant going for that all-important job interview or an interviewer preparing for a day filled with job candidates, it is critical to know what questions are safe to ask during the interview process.

Prospective Employers
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, pre-employment questions are restricted to what is essential in determining an applicant's job qualifications. Queries regarding age, national origin, race, religion, sex or a disability are prohibited. Furthermore, the EEOC advises that potential employers should not request an interviewee's photograph or inquire about membership in organizations or clubs that might divulge any personal information about a job applicant. For details regarding the aforementioned queries, information on prohibited practices is available for review on the EEOC website.

Potential Employees
You scored a job interview, and it is now prep time. Your interviewer can ask a multitude of questions, but certain job interview questions are illegal. Be mindful of how you respond because the questioner might not intend to offend or ask an illegal question, and it is all about an employer's intent if you decide to take the issue up in court. The whole point of a job interview is to get the job, so it is best to know what the parameters are to ensure you are not caught off guard. In your response, rephrase the illegal question to answer it in a more appropriate way. This technique can reveal your interviewing prowess and possibly score points with an interviewer who may not have noticed his gaffe.

Three Illegal Questions
Review examples of interview questions to familiarize yourself prior to an interview, but three illegal questions to be on the lookout include:

  1. What religious holidays do you observe? While potential employers can ask if you are able to work on Sundays, a question regarding your religious affiliation is illegal.
  2. Are you married? It is illegal for employers to ask about your marital status. Furthermore, this type of question can reveal information about your sexual orientation, which is also illegal.
  3. Do you have kids? It seems innocuous enough and possibly even friendly, but it has no place in the interview process. Employers cannot ask questions about an applicant's family or possible plans to have a family.

These questions and a host of others are not valid questions to ask in a job interview because the answers provide no bearing on whether an applicant can do the job. In addition, they can lead to discriminatory practices. Remember, the common denominator to valid interview questions centers on job ability.

In sum, if you are new to the process of interviewing, it is to your benefit to identify the valid questions to ask or answer. Take the time to visit the EEOC's website and be mindful of how you obtain or reveal information in a job interview.

"IMG_2000" by bpsusf licensed by CC BY 2.0



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