With all the questions that a potential employee has the right to ask, there are several that are considered illegal interview questions. The federal and state laws prohibit prospective employers from asking potential employees certain types of questions. All questions asked should be strictly job-related and not pertain to anything personal.
When it comes to illegal interview questions a lot will depend on the wording. For example, an employer can ask if you are legally authorized to work in the U.S. but they cannot ask if you’re a citizen of the United States.
The following are illegal interview questions that are considered discriminatory:
What is your Race?– Discriminating against someone and refusing them a job position because of their race is illegal. Therefore, the interviewer is not allowed to ask you your race.
What Branch of Military Did You Serve In?– An interviewer can ask what type of training you received in the military but they cannot ask if you received an honorable discharge or with what branch you served.
What Is Your Religion?– Refusing to hire a person because of their religion is discriminatory and is not allowed.
What Is Your Sexual Preference?– The sexual preference of a person normally has nothing to do with whether or not they can perform a specific job and should not be asked in an interview.
What Is Your Age?– To ask how old you are is illegal but to ask if you’re over 18 or 21 is legal depending on the job you’re applying for.
Do You Have Any Disabilities?– An interviewer can ask if you have any physical limitations that will interfere with the specific job you’re applying for but they cannot ask if you have disabilities.
What Is Your Marital Status?– Asking what your marital status is and how many kids you have is illegal but to ask if you would be willing to travel or relocate if necessary is acceptable.
Have You Ever Been Arrested?– While you cannot be asked if you have ever been arrested, the interviewer can ask if you have ever been convicted of a crime. However, the crime should have something to do with the job for which you’re applying. For example, it would be appropriate to ask if you’ve ever been arrested for stealing if you’re applying for a job that puts you in direct contact with the company’s funds or merchandise.
The wording is very important and should be considered carefully before you decide whether or not to answer. If you are asked an illegal question during the interview you have the option of answering if you choose to do so but you’re not obligated to answer. You do not have to reveal personal information about yourself that is not related to the job.
You can always say that the question is inappropriate and personal and you prefer not to answer. However, either of these options could prove to be self-destructive and cost you the opportunity to land a good job. The best way to answer illegal interview questions is by considering the reason the question is being asked and then answer the way you would if the question had been asked the correctly.
For example, it’s illegal for a potential employer to ask if you have a car but it’s legal for them to ask if you have a dependable travel method to and from work. Therefore, if you’re asked the question ‘Do you have a car?’ you can answer by saying that you have reliable transportation.
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