Illegal Questions To Ask During a Job Interview

illegalQsDid you know there are questions which are illegal to ask during an interview?  Most hiring managers know what is allowed, but you may find yourself in an awkward position on how to answer them.

Most common illegal questions during interview

1- How old are you?

This is the most common question that comes up.  In most cases there is no intent to discriminate because of your age, but curiosity gets the best of people.  If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend throwing the question back to them.  Ask the interviewer if they feel like your age might get in the way of them being successful for the position.  This will help keep the conversation focused on the responsibilities, not the age.  If you find yourself uncomfortable and they keep pressing you for your age, it might be best to find somewhere new to work.  Great companies won’t do this.

2- What ethnicity are you?

3- Are you pregnant?

4- Are you Christian?

These questions should be obviously wrong to ask, but they are also illegal to ask during a job interview.  Discussing race, religion or ethnicity can land that company in a huge pile of problems

5- How many sick days did you take last year?

This question is not illegal to ask during an interview, however that is starting a conversation on a thin line to something worse. Questions about health records or health history is not legal.

Questions about social media have been the buzz recently.  Employers have been asking job seekers to login to their profiles with the interviewer.  Many times employers say its a way to better understand the candidate.  Several state are now providing laws to prevent this activity, but as of the writing of this post, it’s legal in most states.  This can feel like a violation of personal space.  If you feel like this is something you’re not okay with, put the ball back in their court.  Simply tell them you like to keep a clear work life balance and want to respect that separation between personal and professional.

Illegal Job Interview Questions in Court

UCLA researchers studied California employment discrimination cases.  In 2007 and 2008 they found plaintiffs half the time won their case if the trial went to court.  During that research the found the median jury aware was over $200,000.  Employers paid 6 figures in average for legal costs to defend those cases.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a list of illegal discrimination topics.  The list is continually being updated including a fairly new update to Genetic Information Discrimination.

Many of the cases studied by UCLA found lawsuits beginning from the first job interview.  The information in that interview was found to be used for illegal discrimination.  Reporting complaints of discrimination is certainly on the rise.  Job bias charges are now over 100,000 times per year.  The EEOC reported to obtaining $365 million for victims of discrimination in 2012.


If you find yourself in the middle of any of these illegal interview questions, might want to consider reaching out to legal counsel.  Most states are very strict on equal employment.  If an employer is deciding to hire you based on these questions, there’s a good chance you’re not the only one being discriminated against.



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