Illegal interview questions

The hiring process isn't easy for any part, neither for the interviewee nor the interviewer; if you're in charge of the hiring process of a large corporation and have been trained for this task with the human resources department it maybe won't be that difficult, but if you have your own business with no experiences in the process, it's important to have in mind which are illegal interview questions that you're not legally allowed to ask during an interview; the information will help you in your hiring decisions.

Your hiring decision should not be based on none of the following themes: Race, sex, religion, marital status, national origin, conviction record, pregnancy status, or birthplace. You might be wondering so how I'm going to know if the candidate is older enough or if she/he has children to care, etc. Well there are questions that you can ask in a better way and which answers will give you the information you need without affecting the privacy of the candidate.

Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about the topics mentioned before, is a violation to several laws and can commit into discrimination, those federal laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC.

We've developed a list with several questions that could incur in illegal questions and we provide you the way to get them to appropriate questions, so you won't fail as interviewer.

Illegal Question Legal Question
Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever been convicted of [fill in the blank]?
Are you a U.S. citizen?
Where were you born? Where were your parents born? Are you an American?
What is your native tongue?
Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?
Do you have kids?
Do you have or plan to have children?
If you get pregnant, will you continue to work, and will you come back after maternity leave?
Are you willing to travel for this position?
What are your long-term career goals?
How old are you? How much longer do you plan to work before you retire? Are you over 18?
Inquiries on religious preferences, affiliations, or denominations. What religion do you practice? Which religious holidays do you observe? Describe the work schedule and ask whether applicant can work that schedule
Comments about complexion, color, height, or weight  
Do you have a disability? What is the nature of severity of your disability? Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations?
Inquiries about sexual orientation. Inquiries revealing stereotypes for certain sexual orientation  
What do your parents do for a living? Tell me how you became interested in the "x" industry
How do you feel about supervising men/women? Tell me about you previous experience managing teams
How much do you weigh?  

If the interviewee is in a situation in which is asked one of these illegal interview questions, he/she has three options:

  • Tell the interviewer that the question was illegal, so the interviewer is on alert.
  • Answer the question, if the question is not too uncomfortable for you, you can answer it honestly, on the other hand you can even lie because the question shouldn't be asked in first place.
  • File a claim, you can contact your local EEOC office to do so.