Illegal Job Interview Questions

You’re more than prepared for your final job interview, but one thing is bothering you. You’re an immigrant and a single parent. You know that disclosing information about your status will make or break your chances of getting hired. And you’re well aware that you’re at a disadvantage.

You don’t have to worry if the hiring manager is professional enough to avoid asking illegal questions. It is illegal for the interviewer to ask candidates about their age, national origin, disabilities, or marital or parental status. If confronted by such situation, politely refuse to answer and point out that it’s illegal to ask that question.

Here are some illegal job interview questions that you must be aware of:

Where were you born?

This seemingly innocent question during the getting-to-know-you stage of the interview could be used to illegally obtain information about your national origin. Hiring managers are also not allowed to ask whether or not you’re an American citizen. They can ask whether you’re authorized to work in the country, but they should avoid asking you about your citizenship.

Related to the question about national origin is the question about your native language. Hiring managers should not ask this question unless the position requires you to speak languages other than English. For example, if you’re applying for a contact center job and your responsibilities include supporting French-speaking customers, the hiring manager can ask whether you speak French.

Are you married?

Again, this question seems like small talk, but certainly not in job interviews. Questions about your children might also sound innocent, but it is not. You must be very aware that one can’t discriminate you based on your marital or parental status.

The hiring personnel may also ask you if you plan to get pregnant. Usually, they ask this question to screen out those who might avail of a maternity leave. Asking someone if she wants to get pregnant is downright rude, and now it’s illegal as well.

What is your religion?

This question is illegal because the company can’t discriminate based on your religious beliefs. Avoid answering questions such as whether you observe Ramadan, Good Friday, or Yom Kippur. If the hiring manager is concerned about your availability, he or she could instead ask whether you can work on weekends or holidays.

How old are you?

Despite laws prohibiting companies to discriminate on the basis of age, many companies continue to avoid hiring older employees. They fear excessive absences, poor health, and rising costs of healthcare. Age discrimination in the workplace is definitely illegal, and you should not answer such question.

Do you have a chronic illness or disability?

Chronic illness and disability should not be used as factors in hiring. Hiring managers can only ask such question if the job requires specific physical tasks like installing cables in ceilings and walls, teaching dance lessons, or instructing for fitness.



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