Job Interview Questions to Never Ask

  • Gender
  • Marital or Family Status
  • Citizenship or Nationality
  • Age
  • Religion

Job interviews can be stressful, particularly when you’re not aware of such things as illegal job interview questions. It’s tough to have all eyes on you and to feel like you’re being observed under a microscope. When you’re sitting in the proverbial hot seat, it can be tough to think under all that pressure. That’s why you should know before going into your next interview which questions are actually illegal for employers to ask.

Ranking: 50 Most Affordable Small Colleges for an HR Degree

1. Gender

The underlying motives behind gender-related questions can be discriminatory. That’s why it’s illegal for interviewers to ask such things. Employers can’t base their hiring decision on things like whether you’re a single mother with childcare restrictions or if they feel women aren’t well suited to the job. Therefore, these types of things need to be left out of the interview process altogether.

2. Marital or Family Status

Hiring personnel also cannot ask you about your marital or family status. There motivation with these questions is frequently to determine whether you’ve put down roots or if you might be tempted to leave in six months for a sunnier locale. They may also want to know if you have a spouse or significant other to help with childcare responsibilities, reasoning that you would be apt to miss less work if you did. All of these questions go beyond what is legal to ask, so don’t feel pressured to provide any information along these lines.

3. Citizenship or Nationality

Another of the illegal job interview questions has to do with citizenship and nationality. Along these lines, language is also an area that cannot be broached. The only thing a hiring agent can ask you regarding these issues is whether you are legally authorized to work in the United States. Anything else related to country of origin should be avoided.

4. Age

Ageism is a serious concern for older adults. In fact, there is legal protection if you’re over 40. Therefore, an employer cannot ask your age in an attempt to avoid hiring you in favor of younger, less expensive candidates. On the younger end of the spectrum, things get a bit more complicated as there is no legal protection against not hiring based on youth or inexperience.

5. Religion

Finally, it’s illegal for employers to ask about religion in a job interview. This is a topic that is irrelevant to job performance and has been used in the past to discriminate. If an interviewer is concerned about your availability on a certain day, it is permissible to ask a direct question regarding your schedule availability. Just be aware that outright inquiries about your religious affiliation should not be brought up.

These are some of the basics that job seekers should know with regard to which types of questions should not be asked by employers. It can be tricky territory. Now that you’re aware, you can better decide how to answer or not answer particularly dicey inquiries. These five illegal job interview questions are ones you don’t have to talk about with employers.