Illegal Interview Questions

As much as you may want to know if an applicant has children, thus the possibility of missing work when the kids are sick, or if he owns his house, which means that he's not very likely to move away, you cannot ask these questions. Here are a few others to avoid:

  • Are you married?

  • Do you have plans to get pregnant in the future?

  • Have you ever taken a leave of absence from a job?

  • What does your spouse do for a living?

  • Do you go to church?

  • Will you have to hire a babysitter if you get this job?

  • How old are you?

  • From what country does your family originate?

  • What year did you graduate from school?

  • How will you get yourself to work?

If the job requires occasional overtime, you may ask the applicant if he is available and how much advance notice he needs to work extra hours. It's permissible to ask him if he speaks a foreign language, as long as you do not inquire if he is a native speaker. If the job involves overnight travel, you may ask the candidate if he is able to leave town and again, how much notice he will need. You may ask an applicant if he owns a car and has insurance only if driving his own vehicle while on company time is part of the job. Otherwise, questions about transportation are limited to asking if he has reliable transportation to get to work. If he considers the bus, his bicycle, or a neighbor willing to give him a ride to work reliable transportation, then this is reliable transportation.

May I ask an applicant if he has a disability?

No, you may not ask an applicant if he has a disability. You may ask if he is able to perform the job — every applicant should be asked this. For example, you could say, “This job requires you to stand on your feet and walk without assistance for two hours before taking a break. Are you able to do this?”

During an interview, a job seeker may voluntarily bring up something that falls under the category of questions that you should not ask. When this happens, change the subject quickly and do not write the information down in your interview notes. If, for instance, someone accused you of not hiring them because they have four children, and your interview notes indicate that they have four kids, you may have a hard time proving your contrary argument if the candidate otherwise meets the criteria for the job.

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