Are You Asking Illegal Interview Questions?

November 5, 2015

When conducting interviews it’s both legally and ethically imperative to avoid discrimination. Often seemingly benign questions intended as small talk can point to information about race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. Give yourself an ethical audit by checking yourself for the following questions.



Don’t ask this: “When did you graduate high school?”

Instead, ask this: “If hired, can you furnish proof of age?”



Don’t ask this: “Do you have any disabilities?”

Instead, ask this: “Are you able to perform all job functions?”



Don’t ask this: “Do you plan on having kids?”

Instead, ask this: “How long do you plan to stay in your next position and are there any anticipated absences?”



Don’t ask this: “Where are you from originally?”

Instead, say this: “We are an equal opportunity employer. We value diversity in the workplace and expect our employees to do the same.”



Don’t ask this: “Do you need days off for religious holidays?”

Instead, ask this: “Are you aware of the schedule and able to meet the scheduling requirements?”


Be aware that some questions are legal, but only when directly relevant to a position (Bona fide occupational qualification or BFOQ, is the technical term.). For example, while you can’t ask, “is English your first language?” You can ask, “what languages are you fluent in?” if job duties include communicating with a linguistically diverse client-base.

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