Job interviews can make even the most prepared candidates uncomfortable. That's why you need to be able to spot illegal interview questions. These five interview questions are illegal for potential employers to ask you. Private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local government employers, must abide by the ADA. Note that that the ADA prohibits employers from asking discriminatory questions before making a job offer; after a job offer has been extended, employers are permitted to ask questions about disabilities as long as they ask the same questions of other applicants offered the same type of job, not just applicants with an obvious disability.
Do you have any restrictions that would prevent you from doing that? Consequently, employers cannot base hiring decisions on whether an applicant is from a different country or of a specific ethnicity.
If you happen to be in a situation where an interviewer asks you an illegal question, how you respond is entirely based on your comfort level. Or, if you feel the potential employer has crossed a line, you have every right to end the interview and leave. Granted, this is a difficult thing to do if you really want or need the job, but on the flipside, would you really want to work for someone who indicates a bias?
Advice Interviews Interview Questions. Illegal interview questions that employers shouldn't ask you Watch out for these red flags and learn how to reply if you're asked an illegal question. Daniel Bortz, Monster contributor. Be on the lookout for illegal interview questions. Related Articles.
Illegal Job Interview Questions to Avoid
Do I have a family? Am I married? Do I have children, how old. What is his daycare situation? These were the first questions I was asked in the initial interview and felt very uncomfortable because I felt it was important that I be married to get the job?
In the event they were illegal questions if I were to sue what would I get out of suing? I am currently employed but I believe I missed this job opportunity because of my answers. Can you help? Thanks - Lori. The information on MEL is not legal advice, but general information related to legal issues commonly encountered. The law in your state may be different from that discussed here. The facts in your case may be different too. Information on MEL is public.
Suing for illegal interview questions
I am going to assume that the interviewer was a male, but it really does not matter. Most human resources folks would advise an employer to never ever ask those questions. They are not illegal, but what they indicate is that the interviewer thought that they were important to ask for some reason -- and, since discrimination because of sex is illegal, you could fairly assume that the interviewer has bad stereotypes about women.
The most common stereotype is that, if you are a female with children, you will miss a lot of work. Now, of course, it may not mean that this is what the interviewer had in his mind, but it sure does raise the question in my mind. If were not offered the job, and if you believe that it was because you are female, then these questions would be part of the evidence that the employer discriminated against you. What would you get if you sued?
That depends on whether the job you did not get would have brought you more income than the one you have right now. I suggest that you talk one on one with a lawyer in your area who regularly represents employees in these kinds of disputes. You also have various deadlines that you must abide by. Check out a web site at www. It's a great website, and has very specific information about the legal rights of employees in various states. And, good luck to you. Techincially, the questions you described are not "illegal".
If you can prove that the questions were asked to weed you out for insurance coverage, you might have a case under ERISA.
The type of interview questions that give rise to most cases are ones that violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, such as "what is wrong with your legs".
I recommend you contact your local EEOC office and inquire about the questions asked. Have an Employment Law question? All rights reserved.Conducting an employment interview is stressful for every party involved. You are looking for the best possible new team member, and the person being interviewed is hoping to make the best possible first impression.
In today's competitive environment, the quality of your team is paramount to your success. In your enthusiasm to find the right person, you may not think about what you should and should not ask.
This sounds easy, but can be hard, especially if you develop an easy rapport with the candidate during the interview. It is natural when getting to know someone to ask about family, friends, education or other off-limits topics, but that can get you into trouble during an interview. Check out our best picks. When determining what questions to ask your candidates, consider what you need to know to make an educated hiring decision.
Editor's Note: Looking for information on background check services? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need. There are a variety of ways that you might think are harmless than can actually lead to legal problems. It's important to know what you can and can't say.
A great and common example that may not have occurred to you as a problem: "What is your national origin? And it seems perfectly harmless small talk. But legally, it's not. If you ask, you could be accused of discriminating against them. You can ask of they are eligible to work in the United States and if they are able to provide documentation of that.
Companies now require all employees to fill out an I-9 form to confirm that new hires are legally eligible for work in the U. Employers cannot ask if English is a candidate's first language either. If it's relevant to a position, you can ask what other languages a candidate might be able to read, speak or write fluently.
More than just that, you cannot ask if you rent or own your home, who you live with or how you know the people you live with. You can, however, ask how long a candidate has lived at their current address. Another seemingly innocuous question might be "What is your maiden name? Instead, you can ask, "Have you ever worked under another name? The purpose of such a question might be to find out if they have a reputation, published works or accolades under another name that you might have heard of previously — not to find out if they are or were married.
Another seemingly innocent question is "How old are you? If you do have a minimum age requirement and want to be sure your candidate is eligible, Nunemacher says you can ask, "Are you over the age of 18? For instance, if you're hiring a bartender or waiter who will be serving alcohol, 37 states and Washington D.
Three other states require a person to be more than 21 years old and one state has an age requirement of Another question that can get you as an employer into trouble is "Do you have children," or, "Do you plan to have a family? It's illegal either way. Pregnancy is considered eligible for disability pay, which is another reason you can't ask about a candidate's status.You may encounter illegal or inappropriate questions during a job interview, especially if the interviewer is inexperienced or unsophisticated.
These illegal or inappropriate questions that cross the line may be personal, intrusive, or discriminatory in nature. An illegal question is one that the interviewer has no legal right to ask. Most states and large cities have laws restraining employers from going hog-wild with intrusive questions covering civil rights — age, sex, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth. Asking illegal questions can get the interviewer in a company that retains lawyers in big trouble.
The employment landscape has changed during the past decade, and you may want to rethink your attitude about the need to stand up for your rights in response to every single questionable question — for your own advantage. People post their inner moments and life events on social networking and blog Web sites. Your past and current situation can be revealed by an employment background check, of which a credit report may be a part.
Today most companies conduct employment background checks on potential employees. The check-ups range from criminal records searches and civil litigation history to educational background, job history, credit reports, and Social Security verifications.
The use of employment background checks has skyrocketed because of three main reasons:. Lack of information from references.
Background checks serve as the reference of last resort in a time of tight-lipped employers. And employment litigation can drag on and on. Understanding Illegal and Inappropriate Interview Questions.Illegal interview questions should be avoided in an interview. Employee selection process is an important ethical factor that must never include illegal questions. The job hire screening is an important ethical factor in the employee selection process that must never include illegal interview questions.
The legalities posed in candidate engagement are critical to sustaining an ethical practice of hiring. While rule bound questions would be too formal for an entire job interview, adherence to U. Interview practices should follow EEOC rules to practice all times; to not do so would cause legal liability for the hiring company. Illegal questions are those that have the potential to place a company at risk for an EEOC discrimination lawsuitand correspond to the following:.
Examples of sixteen 16 illegal job interview questions are listed here:.
During an interview, interview questions focusing on the behaviors, skills, and experience needed to perform the job are on target. Eliciting personal information causing potential job discrimination is a signal that illegal interview questions or practices are underway.
Job interviews enable employers to gather as much information about a candidate as possible. This is done mostly by legal questioning, but sometimes also illegal questioning. The result is that interviewee is put in the position of protecting their own rights : forced to recognize these violations posed as credible questions.
Questions directly related to specific occupational qualifications are legitimate. Deviation from targeted professional inquiry has the potential to veer into dangerous, insidious territory that is not at all legitimate hiring practice. Screening of candidates should be vetted early on, with a list of clearly defined questions checked for rule adherence.
Hiring practice is a risky area of organizational practice; one that can cause serious and irreparable damages costing the company or institution substantial compensatory damages should the candidate have the wherewithal to sue.
Understanding Illegal and Inappropriate Interview Questions
Forcing job candidates into litigation as plaintiffs is also viewed as a violation. If a candidate has been unemployed for a period and does not have the finance to protect their own interest, they may not be able to afford legal retainer. Unfair hiring practice is generally not associated with this little bind in relations, but the issue is obviously known by the legal profession.Illegal interview questions can reveal an underlying problem of employment discrimination in a company.
Employment law prohibits employers from making hiring decisions based on legally protected class status. During the interview for a job, interviewers might reveal that discrimination had a role in not receiving a job offer from the company. Applicants and interviewers alike should be aware of questions that are illegal or inappropriate during the interview process. Applicants have a choice in how to respond to any of the following questions. Although the law does not obligate you to answer these questions, not answering might impact your chance for the job.
Of course, if an employer is exhibiting discriminatory leanings, you might not want to be hired by that company. When an interviewer uses illegal interview questions during your meeting, take note. Hiring discrimination can be difficult to prove, but a good employment lawyer may be able to fight for your right to equal opportunity employment.
Illegal: The Americans with Disability Act ADA obligates employers to consider job applicants based on their qualifications, not their disabilities. After the job offer is made, employers may ask these types of questions but they must be asked to all employees, not just those with obvious disabilities. Making assumptions about applicants based on these types of questions could be seen as employment discrimination. Inappropriate and Potentially Illegal: This question and other similar questions could reveal gender discrimination in the workplace.
Illegal: Employers cannot discriminate based on sex for a job. Rather than assuming an applicant may not be able to manage the job responsibilities, ask job related questions to find out if an applicant would have difficulty fulfilling the job requirements.
Illegal: The law prohibits religious discrimination in employment. Whether not from the USA or a different ethnicity, an employer cannot base any employment decisions upon your country of origin. However, they can ask if you are authorized to work in the USA. How To Recognize Subtle Discrimination. Illegal: This can look like race discrimination. Although an employer might only want to check language fluency, asking about your native language is illegal. It would be better if the potential employer asks about the languages that you read, speak, or write.
Illegal: Military status is a legally protected class. Inappropriate: This simple question can often lead to age discrimination since it bases maturity on age. An employer should just make sure that you are legally old enough to hold a job in the United States. How to Sue Your Employer for Discrimination. Inappropriate: Hiring an employee from nearby might make sense, but this discriminates from qualified applicants who might come from another town.
Do you have any disabilities? Other off-limit questions: Do you take prescription drugs? Have you ever been treated for mental health problems? How many sick days did you take last year? ADA Age Discrimination disability discrimination Employment discrimination gender discrimination race discrimination sexual harassment. Prev Post. Next Post. RMN -Law.There are many topics that should be off-limits during a job interview.
Questions about age, ancestry, citizenship, credit rating, criminal record, disabilities, family status, gender, military discharge, or religion should not be asked directly by an interviewer. While the intent of these questions may be to determine if you are a good fit for the job, it is important to know that only information relevant to your ability to do the job can and should be asked. Federal and state laws prohibit prospective employers from asking certain questions that are not related to the job they are hiring for.
They are lawful only when an employer can demonstrate that they are bona fide occupational qualifications BFOQs that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of a business. It may be uncomfortable to do, but you need to be comfortable working at the company. If the questions you are being asked during the interview are indicative of the company's policies, you may be better off finding out now.
Sometimes an interviewer will ask inappropriate questions accidentally, and in that case, you may choose to answer them politely, avoiding the substance of the question but addressing the intent. Here's more information on what interviewees can and cannot be asked and how to respond if you are asked an inappropriate question. There are instances where an employer may need to determine an applicant's age.
The interviewer can ask a young interviewee if he has appropriate working papers. If the job requires that an applicant is of minimum legal age for the position i. If the company has a regular retirement age, they are permitted to ask if the applicant is below that age. However, an interviewer can't ask your age directly:. If faced with these questions you can choose not to answer, or answer with the truthful, if vague, "My age is not an issue for my performance in this job.
There are few questions legal to ask relating to ancestry and race which are pertinent to employment.
During an interview, you may legally be asked, "How many languages are you fluent in? Questions such as "Is English your native language?
Faced with questions such as these, you can refuse to answer, stating simply, "This question does not affect my ability to perform the job. A prospective employer cannot ask about your financial status or credit rating during an interview. There are limited exceptions to this if you are applying for certain financial and banking positions. During an interview, an interviewer can legally ask about any convicted crimes that relate to the job duties.
Illegal Interview Questions: Everything You Need to Know
For example, if you are interviewing for a position that requires handling money or merchandise, you can legally be asked if you have ever been convicted of theft. During an interview, you cannot be asked about arrests without convictions, or involvement in any political demonstrations.
You may choose to tell the interviewer simply, "There is nothing in my past which would affect my ability to perform the duties of this job.
Depending on your state and the type of job for which you are applying, the employer may be able to check your criminal record as part of an employment background check. During an interview, the interviewer may ask questions about your ability to perform specific tasks, such as "Are you able to lift safely and carry items weighing up to 30 pounds?
Under no circumstances is a prospective employer allowed to ask your height, weight, or any details regarding any physical or mental limitations you may have, except as they directly relate to the job requirements.
If you choose to reply, you can state "I am confident that I will be able to handle the requirements of this position. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant with a disability. The ADA applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as to state and local government employers. An interviewer can ask questions regarding whether you can meet work schedulesor travel for the position.
He can ask about how long you expect to stay at a particular job or with the prospective firm. Whether you anticipate any extended absences can also be asked. An interviewer can't ask your marital status if you have children, what your childcare situation is, or if you intend to have children or more children.
You cannot be asked about your spouse's occupation or salary.