Illegal Interview Questions You Can Never Ever Ask A Job Candidate

Next time you are in a job interview make sure you watch what you say. In today’s litigious society, it’s easy to say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question and get sued. Nobody wants to get sued – especially over a simple job interview question gone wrong.

Interviewers Asking Questions Before Hiring Decision Picture

The key to keeping the job interview legal is to stay on topic. Keep all interview questions focused on job related topics. All questions should be focused on the job and the candidate’s ability to do the job. Try not to stray off topic and watch how you phrase your questions.

State and federal laws dictate what a Human Resources professional is allowed and not allowed to ask a candidate. Taboo topics include age, race, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, gender, disabilities, citizenship, pregnancy, health, name, military discharge, affiliations, and general personal information.

Here are some examples of illegal interview questions:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • When are you planning to have children?
  • What is your citizenship?
  • What is your first language?
  • Where were your parents born?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • How old are you?
  • What county are you from?
  • Do you drink socially?
  • When did you graduate from college?
  • Who do you live with?
  • What clubs or social organizations do you belong?
  • How much do you weight?
  • Do you own property?
  • How’s your health?
  • How are your personal finances?
  • Are you in debt?
  • When was the last time you used illegal drugs?
  • How long have you been working?
  • What type of discharge did you receive in the military?
  • Are you married?
  • What religious holidays to you observe?

All of these are illegal interview questions. Do NOT ask a candidate these questions ever. They all directly relate to the taboo topics listed above that you need to always avoid while in a job interview. The answers do not necessarily relate to the job or indicate whether a job candidate can do the job or not. The answers just don’t matter from a legal point of view.

You can still determine if a candidate is a good fit for your company without asking these questions. It’s all about how you phrase the question and relate it to the job. For example, these questions are ok to ask a job candidate:

  • Are you eligible to work in the US?
  • Can you work on weekends?
  • Have you been convicted of a crime?
  • Tell me about yourself.

They are eerily similar to the illegal interview questions above, but they are legal interview questions. And guess what? There is a good chance that candidates know what interview questions are illegal too. If you slip up and a candidate refuses or declines to answer a question, don’t pry. Leave it be and get back on track immediately.

It’s your job to know what you can and cannot say. This post is meant to bring awareness to the point that some interview questions are illegal and others are not. You need to consult with your company’s legal team on what questions you are allowed and not allowed to ask during a job interview.

Play it safe and don’t get sued because you slipped up and asked an illegal interview question.

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