What Questions can you NOT ask in an Interview

Posted October 25, 2016 in Job Hunting Tips by Elizabeth Tischer

When seeking a job, you know that you may end up having to answer a few tough questions. The prospective employer or recruiter wants to know what  you’ve been doing, how well you’ve done it and for whom you accomplished these magnificent feats.

All of these things will combine to ensure that you’re the kind of employee that they are looking for and that you fit well into their company culture. They will have a great many questions to ask you about the kind of work that you’ve done in the past and how well rewarded you were for that work. In fact, they will have a lot of questions about everything, but did you know that there are questions they are not permitted to ask?

Questions Not to Ask in an Interview

If you're the one on the asking end of things, and it's your task to find out all that you can about your prospective employee, you'll want to plan the interview process carefully. The reason is that not every question that you may want to ask is a legitimate legal question. There are simply some things that you're not  permitted to ask a prospective employee. If you do ask them, you're absolutely not going to do so with impunity.

There are actually questions that are illegal, says Human Resources attorney, Charles Krugel. “Protected classes typically include race, gender, nationality, religion, military status and age (40 and up). Usually, such questions are intended to identify those class members. More often than not, it's ‘loaded’ questions that are asked, or those where it's fairly obvious that the asker has a hidden agenda and the question has little to do with the job's essential duties.”

Examples of questions that recruiters or Human Resources personnel may not ask include things like:

If you should need to commute to work, how would you do that, by private car or would you depend on someone else?

Do you have children and if so, who will care for them while you are working?

The first will relate to your socio economic status and may be used to discriminate while the second is illegal in that it relates to your status, gender, or gender stereotypes about people who have children being less committed to their job.

Conversely, if you offer that information,  and combine it with the fact that you have smaller kids and cannot work past  3 PM, denying you the job would be totally legal because you have restrictions that prevent you from fully committing to the position for which you are applying.

Other questions that may not be asked are   things like “how did you attain that scar or is your physical disability from birth?” The law prohibits any type of discrimination against not only the actual physically disabled but also against those who may appear to be disabled. Asking questions about scars, marks or physical incapacity except as it directly relates to your ability to do the job is not permitted.


In short, if you are on the receiving end of the question or the question feels uncomfortable or incorrect, it probably is so. In most cases, it is best to simply terminate the interview in that if an employer is asking this type of question, it’s probably best to walk away from a job with a company who begins the employment process by acting outside the law.

If you're on the asking side of things. pay close attention to the kind of questions that you ask and know which questions not to ask in any job interview.

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