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As hiring managers or employers we have a ton of questions that we can ask to applicants during an interview, but there are questions that are simply illegal and are not supposed to be asked to the applicants. Many recruiters and hiring managers know how hard it is to do a job interview, and it requires skills and experience. It needs a lot of practice for one to be able conduct job interview that runs smoothly. There are some who only hire once or twice a year, so their skills are a little rusty. But we all need to remember these questions employers shouldn’t ask during an interview:

  1. Do not ask about the applicant’s age.

This can be tricky, but discriminating an applicant because of his/her age is illegal. Hiring managers or recruiters only need to verify if he/she is over 18 or 21, depending on the kind of job. Most of the time this question just slips out of the hiring manager’s mouth, so it better to avoid this and just try to connect better with the applicant. Employers can also indicate a specific age limit for the position if it is applicable. A better alternative is “Are you in the minimum age to perform this job?”

  1. What is your nationality?

It is usually indicated in the candidate’s resume, so this would give recruiters the idea where the candidate has lived. Also asking about people’s accent is something to avoid. You should assume that they are from the address they indicated in their resume. A company is not allowed to specify that English is the only language used for the job, unless a business case is provided. If language fluency is required for the job then employers may ask how the candidate has learned the language.

  1. Don’t ask how many kids they have.

You may have asked this as part of the small talk, but it is not okay. This subject about children may be brought up by the applicant, the best thing to do is ask him/her a similar question just incase. A proper thing to ask is for example “this job doesn’t have good flexibility, were pretty rigid about hours, will that work for you?” You also cannot discriminate applicants who plan for future children since pregnancy discrimination is a violation.

  1. Asking about the applicant’s disabilities.

Disabilities are sometimes obvious, but they are protected under the law. You should never ask an applicant if he/she has a disability during a job interview. An alternative would be asking if he/she is capable doing the job. A candidate that has a disability can bring it up after you are in the process of having a job offer.

  1. Do you need health insurance?

Of course everyone needs a health insurance. If you’re asking this to tell them that the job doesn’t offer health insurance, they you can tell it to them directly during the interview. You can state “this job does not offer health insurance, are you still interested?” You also cannot ask them if he/she needs the health insurance.

  1. What is you religion?

This is only applicable if you’re working for a faith-based organization. Most likely don’t ask this, it discriminates the applicant. A person’s religion is not a valid basis for denying him/her the job, unless it is pertinent. The applicant’s religion is only relevant if he/she need to have an accommodation for the job. It’s best to concentrate on the position offered and the skills needed for it.

  1. Don’t ask about the applicant’s race.

This is illegal for employers to ask. You cannot ask questions about the applicant’s race or skin color. Unless it’s a bona fide occupational qualification, for example a modeling job that requires certain characteristics. An employer may include a voluntary space in the application form to indicate his/ her race.

  1. Do you belong to any organization?

Employers should not ask if an applicant is a member or affiliated of any political, social or religious organizations, that also includes membership in labor unions.  Remember to focus only on the position offered and the skills that are needed for it. You can ask if he or she is a member of a professional organization like the American Bar Association.

  1. Have you ever been arrested?

A person is innocent, until proven guilty. Employers can violate the law if you ask the candidate is he or she has arrested in the past. The best method to avoid this is having questions about felony convictions with a disclaimer to be included in the application form. Employers and hiring managers can also weigh the facts when hiring candidates with convictions. It includes the nature and degree of the offense, and the amount of time it has lapsed.

  1. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?

It’s best to have questions about financial status or cases of bankruptcy something that every employer should avoid. Also questions about owning a home or previous wages garnished are off limits from hiring managers. The best alternative is if good credit is required for the position, the company has the rights to perform a credit check on the applicant.

Above all, it is important to be yourself and be truthful. Don’t give the candidate a false impression about what you are like because it would reflect to your company and the job. Don’t forget that the purpose of an interview is as much about a potential employee deciding if the job is right for him as it is about you deciding whether the candidate is right for the position.


Ten Questions You Should Never be Asked in an Interview. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2017, from

(n.d.). You Have to Interview a Job Candidate. Now What? Retrieved January 16, 2017, from