3 Illegal Interview Questions to Avoid

3 Illegal Interview Questions to Avoid


While you’re interviewing a potential employee about their skill set, you may also find opportunities to connect with them. But some questions that may seem friendly in nature could actually lead to accusations of discrimination. These illegal interview questions could lead to costly lawsuits and damage your company’s reputation.

Avoid these three examples of illegal questions to ask during an interview.

1. When Did You Graduate?

This age-estimating question can be just as bad as the more direct “How old are you?” If the job candidate is old enough to be legally employed, you can’t use age as a factor in your hiring decision. It’s OK to inquire about a candidate’s ability to perform specific, job-related physical tasks, provided you ask every prospect the same questions.

Smiling employer avoids illegal interview questions with an applicant

2. What Kind of Name Is That?

Ditto for “Where is your accent from?” You may only be inquiring out of friendly curiosity but asking a candidate their ethnicity or nationality is a no-no.

3. Are You Planning More Children?

Perhaps you know the candidate because your children are in daycare together, and you’re simply wondering if more are on the way. What may seem like an innocent way to connect with an interviewee is actually an illegal probe into the topic of sex. Stay away from questions related to pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity, all of which are included on the list of taboo interview subjects.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Commission guidelines, other illegal questions to ask during an interview cover topics like race, color, religion, disability and genetic information (including family medical history).

Steer clear of these problem areas and protect your business from legal and financial jeopardy during the hiring process.