Illegal Interview Questions an Employer Cannot Ask

Illegal Interview Questions an Employer Cannot Ask
Illegal Interview Questions: What They Are And What To Do About Them

If you are wondering what questions hiring managers or recruiters cannot ask you during an interview session, then you are in the right place. 

In this article, you will learn about the top hidden illegal questions employers cannot ask that may seem harmless.

Let’s get started!

Illegal Interview Questions and Topics #

In this session we have highlighted allega interview questions that hiring managers or recruiters shouldn’t ask job seekers during an interview session. According to the EEOC, it is illegal to ask a candidate questions about their religion, race, color, ethnicity, marital status, family, gender, sexual orientation, sex, disability, birthday, citizenship, and country or origin. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Often times, the US government usually requires employers of labor to ask about age, race, and other details, especially if it’s for affirmative action programs or census data. 

Grey Areas for Illegal Job Interview Questions #

There are some grey areas for illegal job application questions that hiring managers can ask, which you shouldn’t feel offended by. The grey areas to look out for include citizenship, weight, and unemployment status, background checks, height. These grey areas actually depend on the intention of the employer and how they intend to use your information.

Medical Questions & Examinations

According to the EEOC, some questions hiring managers cannot ask with respect to your medical records are:

  • Are your parents from the US?
  • How did you learn Spanish?
  • Can you send your birth certificate?

Questions Recruiters Can Ask

  • If we hire you, can you show proof of citizenship?
  • Do you have any other names?
  • Can you read, write, and speak in English?
  • Are you legally allowed to work in the US?


According to the EEOC, some questions hiring managers cannot ask with respect to your weight/height are:

  • How much do you weigh?
  • How tall are you?

Questions They Can Ask Include:

  • Can you do all job duties listed in the job description?

Background Checks

According to the EEOC, some questions hiring managers cannot ask with respect to your background check are:

  • Queries about convictions are usually illegal except if it’s related to the job and it’s very sensitive. 


The EEOC has made it known that availability-related questions are not illegal except when they are used to discriminate against job seekers. However, illegal questions include:

  • Can you work nights
  • Can you work weekends?

The above two questions are considered illegal especially when the hiring manager asks only women. Questions that are not illegal include: 

  • Do you have reliable transportation to work?
  • Can you travel for work?
  • What days can you work?

Personal Info

During an interview session, there’s nothing wrong if an employer asks for some of your personal details if the employer is not going to use your information to discriminate against you. However, here are some illegal interview questions that an employer shouldn’t ask you:

  • What’s your maiden name?
  • Have you changed your name?
  • Can you change your name?
  • What’s your birth name?
  • Who are your family members? 

What if They Ask Illegal Interview Questions? #

While most recruiters and hiring managers already know the questions that discriminate against potential job-seekers, some of them will still go ahead to ask illegal interview questions. In the event that a recruiter asks you an illegal interview question, what then should you do? 

In most cases, we advise that you strive to change the subject matter or respond in a way that the employer or recruiter will not understand your intention. If you feel strongly that the question offends you, you can proceed to report the recruiter to the EEOC office that is closest to you.

What Is the Most Effective Way to Handle an Illegal or Inappropriate Question During an Interview? #

Take the following steps whenever you feel that the question a recruiter or hiring manager asks is discriminatory:

  • First, you need to decide whether or not you want to answer the question. You are not under any form of compulsion to answer illegal employment questions. And be informed that no employer will penalize you for not responding to an illegal job application question, because they are fully aware that it violates your civil rights.
  • Grab a copy of the list of legal questions that employers should not ask during an interview.
  • If you feel that you are being discriminated against, you can contact the EEOC office that is nearest to you.
  • If you are desperately in need of the job, you can proceed to answer the question despite the red flags.
  • If the company proceeds to hire you, make sure you get a copy of all the discriminatory questions that they ask you during the interview so that you can file for legal claims, in case they decide to fire you in the future.
Illegal Questions and Answers
Illegal Questions and Answers

Key Takeaway #

Some recruiters or hiring managers that are not abreast of the EEOC regulations usually ask job seekers questions that the regulatory agency termed illegal. It is important to be aware of these types of questions whenever you are preparing for an interview. It is not compulsory to answer an illegal question during an interview, especially when the EEOC has termed the question as inappropriate for job seekers. 

Find below a recap of what we have discussed in the article and how to navigate your way to avoid getting into the bad books of hiring managers:

  • Use the list of illegal interview questions that we shared above to familiarize yourself with the type of questions that are illegal in an interview session.
  • If a potential recruiter or employer asks you any of the illegal questions that are captured on the list, you don’t have to answer the question. You can even reach out to the EEOC if you feel that any of the questions that a recruiter post to you is discriminatory.

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