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Updated by Jamaal W. Stafford on Oct 19, 2020
Headline for 10 Illegal Interview Questions
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10 Illegal Interview Questions

Most, if not all employers recognize that it is illegal to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of age, race, gender, nationality, citizenship, or marital or family status. Nonetheless, many employers still ask potential candidates questions that are illegal under state and federal law. They may not realize they are doing it or it may be a way to covertly discriminate against potential employees. Many of the questions below seem harmless, but can easily be used for discriminatory purposes.


What year did you graduate from high school?

Except for jobs where there are legal age requirements, this question could be considered an attempt to discriminate against potential employees on the basis of their age. You do not have to provide your age to an employer at the interview stage or disclose any other information that an employer could use to determine your age.


Are you available to work on Sundays?

This question can be used to determine whether you are religious. The employer should instead ask which days you are available to work.


What country is your family from?

Attempts to determine your ethnicity or nation of origin could be discriminatory, even if it is well-intentioned. Questions concerning a candidate’s race or ethnicity are almost always illegal. You should not be required to provide a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship at the interview stage. An employer may be able to ask about which languages you speak if it is directly related to the job you are applying for.


Do you have any children?

It is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of familial status. Employers should not ask you whether you have children, plan to start a family, or what your child care arrangements may be.


Are you married?

Similar to familial status, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of marital status. As a result, any questions that are designed to determine your marital status, either directly or indirectly, are illegal.


What gender do you identify as?

Given our nation’s changing attitude towards gender, this may seem like an appropriate question for a progressively-minded employer. Unfortunately, it can also be a covert way of discriminating against people of a particular gender.


Have you ever changed your name?

This may be another attempt to determine your marital status and is therefore illegal.


Do you have any disabilities or medical conditions?

Employers can ask if you can perform all aspects of the job, but are not permitted to ask about your medical condition or whether you have any disabilities during the interview.


Will you need time off for Christmas, Easter, or other religious holidays?

This may seem like a harmless question, but again, it may be used for discriminatory purposes during an interview.


How tall are you? How much do you weigh?

Unless a certain height or weight is a part of the job description, employers should not ask about your height and weight. Similar to disabilities and medical conditions, they can ask if you can perform all of the essential duties.