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Handling Illegal Interviewing Questions

It is often difficult to know what comprises an illegal question and what to do if you are asked an illegal question in an interview. If you answer an illegal question you are more than likely giving information that is not related to the job and you may be giving an answer that an employer does not want to hear. If you choose not to answer, depending on the wording of your refusal, you could appear uncooperative. So, what do you do? You should phrase your answer as it relates to the position. For example, if you are asked “How much do you weigh?” you have been asked an illegal question, but you could say “I am able to perform the duties of the job.”

 

The following is a list of legal vs. illegal questions.

Subject

Illegal Questions

 

Legal Questions

National Origin/ Citizenship

-Are you a U.S. Citizen?

 

 

-Where were you/your parents born?

 

 

-What is your “native” tongue?

-Are you authorized to work in the United States?

 

 

-What language do you speak/read/write fluently? (This question is okay only if relevant to the job)

 

Age

-How old are you?

 

 

-When did you graduate?

 

 

-What’s your birth date?

-Are you over the age of 18?

Marital/Family Status

-What is your marital status?

 

 

-With whom do you live?

 

 

-Do you plan to have a family? When?

 

 

-How many kids do you have?

 

 

-What are your child-care arrangements?

-Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?

 

 

-Would you be able and willing to travel as needed for the job? (This question is okay if it is asked of all the applicants)

 

 

-Would you be willing and able to work overtime as necessary?

 

Affiliations

-What clubs or social organizations do you belong to?

-List any professional or trade groups or other organizations that you belong to that you

consider relevant to your ability to perform this job.

Personal

-How tall are you?

 

 

-How much do you weigh? (Questions about height and weight are not acceptable unless minimum standards are essential for the safe performance of the job)

-Are you able to lift a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards, as that is part of the job?

Disabilities

-Do you have any disabilities?

 

 

-Please complete the following medical history.

 

 

-Have you had any recent of past illnesses or operations? If yes, list them and give dates when these occurred.

 

 

-What was the date of your last physical exam?

 

 

-How’s your family’s health?

 

 

-When did you lose your eyesight? How?

 

 

-Do you need an accommodation to perform the job? (This question can be asked only after a job offer has been made)

-Are you able to perform the essential functions of the job? (This question is okay if the interviewer has thoroughly described the job)

 

 

-Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related functions?

 

 

-As part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made, you will be required to undergo a medical examination. (Exam results must be kept strictly confidential, except medical/safety personnel may be informed if emergency medical treatment is required, and supervisors may be informed about necessary job accommodations, based on

exam results).

 

Arrest Record

-Have you ever been arrested?

-Have you ever been convicted of ____? (The crime named should be reasonably related to the performance of the job in question)

Military

-If you’ve been in the military, were you honorably discharged?

-In what branch of the Armed Forces did you serve?

 

 

-What type of training or education did you receive in the military?

 


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