8 Interview Questions You Might Not Know Are Illegal

rockin'robin

Well-Known Member
Hiring managers have their companies' best interests at heart. Of course they want to know if you'll be a good fit, but they also want to know if you're likely to leave to start a family or retire in the near future. But asking anything intended to get information about a person's status in a protected class—age, race, religion, pregnancy, etc.—is technically illegal. Still, Peter K. Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers, says that often both interviewers and interviewees don't realize that a certain line of inquiry has veered into murky territory. To help defend job seekers against revealing information that could be used against them, here are eight questions that you should always avoid answering.

1. Are You Married?

Anything that fishes for information about a candidate's family plans (marriage, engagement, and child planning) is technically illegal because it falls under pregnancy discrimination. It can often seem like a hiring manager is just making pleasant conversation and trying to get to know you better, but job applicants are not obligated to disclose any personal information. This could also be a subtle way to question someone about their sexual orientation—another protected class.

2. How Old Are You?

Lots of applications will stipulate that employees have to be over 18, and that's fine—ensuring their workers are not minors is within a company's rights. But this question becomes problematic when interviewers ask more mature candidates that question, because it's illegal to discriminate against anyone over 40 on the basis of age. If anyone asks, don't feel bad about declining to respond. Recognize that whoever is interviewing you probably already has some sense of your age just from looking at your resume, and use the opportunity to emphasize all those years of experience.

3. When Did You Graduate?

We all know how math works—this is just a not-so-sly way to calculate someone's age. (Feel free to nix the graduation year from your resume, too.) "If the interviewer presses for a reply, you might give him the date and then ask how that applies to your candidacy," Studner says. "And in the final analysis, would you really want to work for a company where the management discriminates against age? It might be better to move on."

4. How's Your Health?

If it's a physically demanding job, employers have a right to ask about specific physical abilities. For example: "This job requires lifting packages up to 30 pounds, or standing on your feet for six hours a day, or talking on the phone at least 80 percent of the time. Is this something you can do on a continuous basis?" But anything that isn't directly related to tasks you'll be performing on the job is personal information that you don't have to—and shouldn't—reveal.

5. What Religion Are You? Do You Observe Any Religious Holidays?

It's illegal to discuss your religion in an interview, even if it will affect your need to take time off. It can be awkward to back out of this question if an employer presses the issue, so Studner suggests a polite but firm, "I prefer not to discuss my religion, but I can assure you that it will not interfere with my doing this job."

6. Have You Ever Been Arrested?

It's not illegal to ask if you've ever been convicted of a crime, and many employers do, either on the application or in the interview. But what they can't ask about is your arrest record. That said, it is not illegal for a concerned hiring manager to do some independent research to see if there are any records of arrests available online. If you know they'll be looking into your background, this constitutes a rare instance where an interviewee should volunteer incriminating information.

"In these kinds of cases where a future employer might uncover prior arrests, it is important to discuss the incident up front and point out that it was a thing of the past, never to be repeated," Studner says. "The more serious the offense, the more convincing you have to be."

7. What Country Are You From?

As long as you're authorized to work in the country where the job is located—a question they are allowed to ask—employers can't dig into where you're from because nationality discrimination is illegal. Similarly, they can't ask if English is your first language.

8. Do You Like To Drink Socially?

It's not entirely clear why this would come up in an interview situation, but if it does, it's actually illegal in order to protect people who might answer "No." Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, recovering alcoholics don't have to reveal any information that might hint at their status. It's also illegal to question job applicants about when they last used illegal drugs, although asking if you're currently using illegal drugs is permissible.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/64202/8-interview-questions-you-might-not-know-are-illegal
 

caz

Active Member
I have been asked if was going get pregnant soon but was already pregnant they did not ask right question should asked me if I was..from Mexico or Afghanistan but they never asked if got green card.age born leap year.married but as failed to ask how many wives...drink not socially all the time they did not ask right question..graduated from university of life did not ask right question..no problems chatting on phone and yes can do all those things I house wife again not right question.Religion no problems I bring me own prayer mat and stay put never leaving work place again no asked right question.
Prison never seen inside American prison but did 5years of hard labour elsewhere did not ask right question.All these can be answered honestly
 

Sosie

Well-Known Member
Hiring managers have their companies' best interests at heart. Of course they want to know if you'll be a good fit, but they also want to know if you're likely to leave to start a family or retire in the near future. But asking anything intended to get information about a person's status in a protected class—age, race, religion, pregnancy, etc.—is technically illegal. Still, Peter K. Studner, author of Super Job Search IV: The Complete Manual for Job Seekers & Career Changers, says that often both interviewers and interviewees don't realize that a certain line of inquiry has veered into murky territory. To help defend job seekers against revealing information that could be used against them, here are eight questions that you should always avoid answering.

1. Are You Married?

Anything that fishes for information about a candidate's family plans (marriage, engagement, and child planning) is technically illegal because it falls under pregnancy discrimination. It can often seem like a hiring manager is just making pleasant conversation and trying to get to know you better, but job applicants are not obligated to disclose any personal information. This could also be a subtle way to question someone about their sexual orientation—another protected class.

2. How Old Are You?

Lots of applications will stipulate that employees have to be over 18, and that's fine—ensuring their workers are not minors is within a company's rights. But this question becomes problematic when interviewers ask more mature candidates that question, because it's illegal to discriminate against anyone over 40 on the basis of age. If anyone asks, don't feel bad about declining to respond. Recognize that whoever is interviewing you probably already has some sense of your age just from looking at your resume, and use the opportunity to emphasize all those years of experience.

3. When Did You Graduate?

We all know how math works—this is just a not-so-sly way to calculate someone's age. (Feel free to nix the graduation year from your resume, too.) "If the interviewer presses for a reply, you might give him the date and then ask how that applies to your candidacy," Studner says. "And in the final analysis, would you really want to work for a company where the management discriminates against age? It might be better to move on."

4. How's Your Health?

If it's a physically demanding job, employers have a right to ask about specific physical abilities. For example: "This job requires lifting packages up to 30 pounds, or standing on your feet for six hours a day, or talking on the phone at least 80 percent of the time. Is this something you can do on a continuous basis?" But anything that isn't directly related to tasks you'll be performing on the job is personal information that you don't have to—and shouldn't—reveal.

5. What Religion Are You? Do You Observe Any Religious Holidays?

It's illegal to discuss your religion in an interview, even if it will affect your need to take time off. It can be awkward to back out of this question if an employer presses the issue, so Studner suggests a polite but firm, "I prefer not to discuss my religion, but I can assure you that it will not interfere with my doing this job."

6. Have You Ever Been Arrested?

It's not illegal to ask if you've ever been convicted of a crime, and many employers do, either on the application or in the interview. But what they can't ask about is your arrest record. That said, it is not illegal for a concerned hiring manager to do some independent research to see if there are any records of arrests available online. If you know they'll be looking into your background, this constitutes a rare instance where an interviewee should volunteer incriminating information.

"In these kinds of cases where a future employer might uncover prior arrests, it is important to discuss the incident up front and point out that it was a thing of the past, never to be repeated," Studner says. "The more serious the offense, the more convincing you have to be."

7. What Country Are You From?

As long as you're authorized to work in the country where the job is located—a question they are allowed to ask—employers can't dig into where you're from because nationality discrimination is illegal. Similarly, they can't ask if English is your first language.

8. Do You Like To Drink Socially?

It's not entirely clear why this would come up in an interview situation, but if it does, it's actually illegal in order to protect people who might answer "No." Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, recovering alcoholics don't have to reveal any information that might hint at their status. It's also illegal to question job applicants about when they last used illegal drugs, although asking if you're currently using illegal drugs is permissible.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/64202/8-interview-questions-you-might-not-know-are-illegal

Good information, RR!
 

mikemike

Member
1. Are You Married?
Many women take off their wedding rings before interviews.

4. How's Your Health?
Except for law enforcement jobs which required physical tests to pass. that is legal under the EEOC conditional job offer

6. Have You Ever Been Arrested?
7. What Country Are You From?
Well for #6 and #7 for jobs requiring security clearances, that is legal. And when I had a clearance, it was policy to tell the security office if you have been arrested or married a foreign woman. Spouses from NATO countries were ok but not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan.
https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf and www.dss.mil has more

8. Do You Like To Drink Socially?
Who wants to hire an alcoholic and covered her/his works once a week?? Being drunk at work is not a disability nor an ADA violation.
Drugs tests are legal but they are not part of medical exams.[/QUOTE]
 

DeafDucky

Well-Known Member
1. Are You Married?
Many women take off their wedding rings before interviews.
What does being married or not married have to do with the job. It's their way of supposedly not hiring because married people won't put in the extra time/hours... therefore it's illegal or at best a fat no-no- discrimination at its finest.

4. How's Your Health?
Except for law enforcement jobs which required physical tests to pass. that is legal under the EEOC conditional job offer
Cite please? I have never heard of this being legal- at least in the last 20 years. Asking if you are deaf just may fall under this... and this is a good way for employers to avoid hiring perfectly suited people with the correct skills

6. Have You Ever Been Arrested?
7. What Country Are You From?
Well for #6 and #7 for jobs requiring security clearances, that is legal. And when I had a clearance, it was policy to tell the security office if you have been arrested or married a foreign woman. Spouses from NATO countries were ok but not from Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan.
https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf and www.dss.mil has more
Fair enough but for the majority of jobs out there neither really has any bearing on the duties of the job.

8. Do You Like To Drink Socially?
Who wants to hire an alcoholic and covered her/his works once a week?? Being drunk at work is not a disability nor an ADA violation.
Drugs tests are legal but they are not part of medical exams.
This one is just plain intrusive. Drinking socially != alcoholic.
 

mikemike

Member
1 For female lawyers and female doctors and female accountants, travelling is part of the job and being promoted.

2.
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm
Disability & Medical Exams After A Job Offer For Employment
After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the questions or take the exam.

see www.fbi.gov and www.secretservice.gov and other federal law enforcement websites. All city and county and state LEA required physical test. Good health=passing the test

3. uh. other countries banned and excluded Americans.

4. the public health is more important than a drunk driver drinking on the job. not to mentioned the financial impact.


What does being married or not married have to do with the job. It's their way of supposedly not hiring because married people won't put in the extra time/hours... therefore it's illegal or at best a fat no-no- discrimination at its finest.


Cite please? I have never heard of this being legal- at least in the last 20 years. Asking if you are deaf just may fall under this... and this is a good way for employers to avoid hiring perfectly suited people with the correct skills


Fair enough but for the majority of jobs out there neither really has any bearing on the duties of the job.



This one is just plain intrusive. Drinking socially != alcoholic.
 

DeafDucky

Well-Known Member
1 For female lawyers and female doctors and female accountants, travelling is part of the job and being promoted.
Seriously? So with that logic then they should be asking the male applicants "are you married?" too. For male lawyers , doctors and accountants. I have never heard of traveling being a part of a doctor's job (except maybe Doctors without Borders. Being married does not impact on how well a person can do the job. One of my friends has gone ALL over the US on different contract positions while his wife remains home in his home state. He's currently on a 1 year contract near where I live and flies home every weekend (or when he can.

2.
http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm
Disability & Medical Exams After A Job Offer For Employment
After a job is offered to an applicant, the law allows an employer to condition the job offer on the applicant answering certain medical questions or successfully passing a medical exam, but only if all new employees in the same type of job have to answer the questions or take the exam.

see www.fbi.gov and www.secretservice.gov and other federal law enforcement websites. All city and county and state LEA required physical test. Good health=passing the test
Yes in certain jobs. if LEA is Law Enforcement Agency then yes I would expect that asking that question is a necessary part of the application process. But I was talking about ANY jobs not just specific ones... Even then I had thought that even with government jobs they were not allowed to ASK but determining eligibility or fitness via physical exams etc was fine.

3. uh. other countries banned and excluded Americans.
Uh... we're not other countries. American employers (which is what's being discussed here, are not supposed to discriminate based on race, sex, disability blah blah.. including where the person came from.

4. the public health is more important than a drunk driver drinking on the job. not to mentioned the financial impact.
I suppose but in that case if it is found that they're drinking on the job (notably with any type of job involving travel, driving etc) they'll get their ass kicked to the curb or told to get rehab. In all my years of working I have NEVER seen this question or even heard of it from anyone else. Maybe in the 50s..? :dunno:

I can see we're both going to have different view points about this so may as well not bother to argue this to death.
 

Mieke

Belgian ASL noob
Wow, pretty amazed these questions are illegal in US.

I've been sitting in in some job interviews lately and we/I have probably asked half of these questions. Now the company I work for is really not chosing the candidate most applicable based on the fact that they may get pregnant or are 38 and not 27, or on how their family situation is. Although here half of this info I'd put on my resumé anyway.

A lot of resumes here often contain date of birth, relationship status, even if they have kids or not.
 

zephren

Active Member
So if you are asked an illegal question, how should you respond? It seems like if you refuse to answer or say that it is not a legal questions, you would be unlikely to get the job. Of course, you may not want to work for this company anyway if that is their hiring practice.
 

Mieke

Belgian ASL noob
I would probably be blunt and ask them why they are asking...

Although it could very well be I would not get the job, but anyway my bluntness would probably be obvious already from any other questions they asked me.
 

Muse

Active Member
Wow, pretty amazed these questions are illegal in US.

I've been sitting in in some job interviews lately and we/I have probably asked half of these questions. Now the company I work for is really not chosing the candidate most applicable based on the fact that they may get pregnant or are 38 and not 27, or on how their family situation is. Although here half of this info I'd put on my resumé anyway.

A lot of resumes here often contain date of birth, relationship status, even if they have kids or not.
What part of the world are you in? If you don't mind me asking, that is.

Update: Oh. I saw just below your avatar. :P But new question. How would you rate Belgium's treatment of Deaf people compared to what you've learned about elsewhere?
 

Muse

Active Member
So if you are asked an illegal question, how should you respond? It seems like if you refuse to answer or say that it is not a legal questions, you would be unlikely to get the job. Of course, you may not want to work for this company anyway if that is their hiring practice.
I wrestle with this often.

I think, more than anything, this is a framing issue.

Let's say, for sake of example, you had this magic ability to sell the Deaf/HoH/etc market and bring in an extra $8 million per year (not at all an unreasonable number considering how many are in the US and the world).

If an employer knew you had the ability to bring in $8 million, what would they do? I don't know what they'd do, but I'd run through no man's land in a battlefield half-naked screaming "fire!" through a bullhorn just to get you.

If it means I have to give accessibility? No problem. Pay Colin Kaepernick to come on Wednesdays and autograph your forehead? No problem. Corner office with coffee and exactly 3.14159... lumps of sugar delivered by a personal secretary named Hans, every hour on the hour? No problem.

Disregard any potentially invasive interview questions when I say 'that's a question I'd prefer not to answer' ... ?

You bet no problem :)

So the issue, I've found, is usually how well you sell yourself. You're coming here to rock the bottom line like Elvis on white powder. You're the best candidate they've ever seen. Regardless of whether or not you're giving access to any sort of a Deaf/HoH/etc market, that was just for example.

And I've seen this happen. I've seen companies, after courtesy interviewing a Deaf person for a position that was already filled, realized that their talent was what they wanted to bad that they scrambled all over just to find a position that was open.

And anytime you begin to doubt that, just think of all the movie stars with high maintenance personalities that the movie industry is still scrambling over itself to hire.
 

Barbaro

Well-Known Member
Years ago, I was asked if I was married during the interview. I knew it was an illegal question, so I asked them what's up with that. They refused to answer my question, so they said it was just a routine. Yeah, right.

They asked my husband if he had a kid. He said no and one of them said, "Ok, that's good." He gave him that look and he knew it was an illegal question. I think that the startup company didn't like the idea of hiring a employee with a kid in case it falls through. Hmm..
 
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