10 Common Illegal Questions Employers Should Never Ask During An Interview

posted in: Human Resources | 7

Advertising a new job listing for your business, reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and hiring new employees can be challenging.  The process is necessary if you are going to find the right candidate for your open position. Determining if a candidate is a complimentary fit for your organization requires discernment. You always want to ask the right questions to help your determine the candidates qualification.

As an employer, asking potential candidates questions that are considered illegal will cause you problems. Not only can you face possible legal action, you can also damage your business reputation.

Here are some questions that you should NEVER ask during an interview unless your company enjoys a special exemption.

1)      Race/Ancestry

Never ask questions about the orgin of candidate’s name. Example: Fontineli, is that Italian?

2)      Marital Status?

Never ask any questions about the individual’s marital status or title (Mrs., Miss, Ms, Mr.).  Never ask questions about a person’s spouse, even if they tell you that they have one.

3)      Personal Life

Never ask questions about the candidates personal life. For example: Does the candidate have children? Smoke? Drink? Does the candidate take drugs, prescription or otherwise? These are all personal questions that do not belong in the interview process.

4)      Age

Never ask any age related questions such as the year a person graduated from school.

5)      Religion

Never ask questions about religion, church activities, social activities, beliefs.

6)      Length of Commute

Never ask questions about commute, travel time or distance. People’s willingness to commute is based on their personal choice.

7)     Personal Finances

Never ask questions about credit scores, bankruptcy, or personal finances.

8)      Arrest Record

Never ask questions about arrest records such as have you ever been arrested?

9)      Military Record

Never ask questions about military status, discharge status, National Guard or Reserve status.

10)  Social Media Information

Never ask questions about social media activities, personal links, passwords etc.


Consequences for Asking Illegal Questions During an Interview

If you ask an illegal question, you could face a discrimination charge as well as a lawsuit. As information travels fast and is easily accessible through the internet, your local business can be internationally portrayed in a negative way, causing irreparable damage to your reputation.

If a question directly relates to the job and the answer affects the person’s ability to perform a task, you may be allowed to ask certain questions. An example would be if you were looking to hire a Pastor for your church, you are able to ask certain questions about religious beliefs.  If you sell men’s clothing only and were looking for male models, gender would be appropriate.


PEOple OneSource’s Recommended Solution

As a business owner, you must keep up with both Federal Laws and State Laws regarding employment discrimination.

Asking the right questions during the interview process related to job experience, education, skills, and other relevant areas will help you to identify and select good employees while avoiding pitfalls.

For a comprehensive list of appropriate questions to ask during any employee interview, please visit our website at www.peopleonesource.com and click Presentations and White Papers to download the sample list of Interview Questions.

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7 Responses

  1. Oscar Bodin

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    • Jose Zavala

      Thank you Oscar Bodin. I will forward this to our IT department so they can answer your question.


  2. Bhushan Chavan

    Great article !! and yes having your own ambitions, goals, and ideal choice of the work environment will keep you satisfied and happy at work so there should be no hesitation to ask some questions to interviewer. So you should be able to find out how the culture suits you or not.Thanks a lot i am going to bookmark this for sure.

    • Jose Zavala

      Bhushan Chavan. Glad you liked the article. Look forward for many more related topics to come every week!! We are here to help!

  3. David Stjulien

    I really can’t believe how great this site is. Keep up the good work. I’m going to tell all my friends about this place.

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