Illegal Job Interview Questions

An illegal question can be a question regarding race, religion, disability, gender, age, & sexual orientation, etc. that is not related to the job for which you are applying.

Below are examples of illegal interview questions.

  1. What is your race?
  2. What is your date of birth? or When were your born?
  3. When did you graduate high school (if not listed on resume)?
  4. What was your maiden name?
  5. Are you on any medications?
  6. Do you have any physical or mental disabilities?
  7. What religion do you practice?
  8. Do you attend church?
  9. Do you have a drug or alcohol problem?
  10. Have you ever been arrested? or Have you ever been convicted of a crime/felony? (employers may ask about convictions/arrests if it is relevant to the job)
  11. What is your native language?
  12. Are you a citizen of the United States?
  13. Would working on the weekends conflict with your religious beliefs?
  14. Are you pregnant?
  15. What was your discharge status from the military?
  16. What is your gender?
  17. How old are you?
  18. Do you rent or own your home?
  19. Are you an American?
  20. What kind of name is that?
  21. Were your parents American?
  22. What is your credit rating?
  23. Do you have children?
  24. Are you married/single/engaged separated/divorced? or Do you have a partner? or Who do you live with?
  25. What are your child care plans?
  26. How is your health?
  27. What is your sexual orientation?
  28. Did you take a lot of sick/personal time with your previous employer(s)?
  29. Do you expect to have a family?  How many children do you plan to have?
  30. How much do you weigh?  What is your height?
  31. Have you had any recent illness or operations? or What was the date of your last physical exam?
  32. What clubs or organizations do you belong to? (This question is illegal when the intent is to discover personal information about you (i.e. religious affiliation, political beliefs, etc.)
  33. Are you in the National Guard?
  34. What holidays do you observe?  or Do you observe Good Friday/Hanukkah/Ramadan?
  35. Do you smoke?

What do I do if I’m asked an illegal question?

Sometimes employers inadvertently ask illegal questions simply to break the ice, questions like “Do you have children?” or “When did you graduate high school?”. If you don’t mind providing the information and don’t think it will hurt your chances of employment, you may choose to answer.

However, if you are asked an illegal question that you don’t want to answer, the best thing to do is try to answer the intent of the question. For example, if an employer asks if you are married with children (an illegal question) a good answer would be to say, “if you mean to ask if I am able to work nights and weekends, the answer is yes.”

However, if the question makes you uncomfortable, you may very tactfully inform the employer that the question is illegal.  One way to handle an illegal question that you do want to answer is by carefully stating that you are not clear how that question is pertinent to the position for which you are interviewing.