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Questions the Hiring Manager Can’t Ask During an Interview


As an employer, it is your responsibility to interview potential employees in a lawful manner.  This means only asking questions that are job related.  You should explain what the job entails and what is expected and be sure that the applicant fully understands and feels capable of performing the job.  You may not ask personal questions in an attempt to determine in your own opinion if the person can perform the requirements of the job.

The following are questions that are perceived as personal and in most cases irrelevant to a job interview.

What is your religious orientation? You may not ask this question unless you are religious organization and the religious orientation is a factor to perform job requirements.  For example, a catholic youth ministry may prefer to hire a catholic youth leader.

What is your age? Unless required by law to ascertain a minimum age requirement, for example a minor applying for a wait staff job where liquor is served, you may not ask for date of birth, when the job candidate graduated from high school or college, or any other age related question.

Do have any children? This includes any questions along those lines including number of children, daycare provisions etc.

Are you married? You cannot ask a candidate’s marital status, if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or any other family situation question.

What is your sexual orientation? There is no acceptable reason to ask this question in a job interview.

What is your nationality? You may not ask where a job applicant was born, where his parents were born, or any other questions referring to ancestry.  You may ask if the applicant can legally work in the US.

What is your weight or height? All questions that pertain to a candidate’s physical characteristics are strictly off limits unless they directly pertain to the ability to perform the job.

Do you have any physical or mental disabilities? You can’t ask about a specific disability, but you can ask if they will be able to perform the job.  This extends to asking about any health related questions including a drug or alcohol problem.

What private organizations do you belong to? This is considered a personal question, irrelevant to the job interview unless the organization is a union and it is relevant to the position.

Have you ever been arrested? You can’t broach the blanket question of an arrest, but in certain cases, you may ask if the candidate has ever been convicted.  The interviewer must prove a business necessity for asking the question and then must consider the relation that the conviction could have on the job and the time-lapse since the conviction.

What is your financial status? You can’t ask about finances such as a foreclosure or previously garnished wages. You can use credit references in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 and the Consumer Credit Reporting Reform Act of 1996.

Have you ever been dishonorably discharged from the military? You may not question the status of a military discharge, but you can ask what training the applicant received, dates of service etc.

Have you ever filed for Worker’s Compensation? You also may not ask if the applicant has sustained any work related injuries.



Nail, SPHR , Thomas H. , and Dale Scharinger, PhD. “GUIDELINES ON INTERVIEW AND EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION QUESTIONS.” N.p., 1 May 2002. Web. 12 Mar. 2011.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” US EEOC Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2011.

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