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Unlawful Job Interview Questions

June 7, 2024 Age Discrimination

What Employers Are Not Allowed To Ask

Job interviews can be stressful. Many job hunters feel strong pressure to perform, to answer every question in a way that will impress the interviewers, and to put their best foot forward. But the interview is a time for the employer to put their best foot forward too, and the questions they ask can give you valuable information about what it’s like to work there.

Some interview questions are unlawful. It’s important to know your rights when you walk into an interview—because an employer that asks you unlawful interview questions is not one you want to work for.

Here are some questions that employers are not allowed to ask.

Questions About Your Race, Religion, Ethnicity, or National Origin.

It is unlawful to discriminate against employees based on these things, and as such, questions about these topics are highly inappropriate in a job interview. It is, however, legal for an employer to ask if you are legally eligible to work in the US.

Questions About Your Age.

Under the Age Discrimination Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against a potential employee based on age. That means an interviewer should not be asking you how old you are in an interview. It is also unlawful to ask questions that obliquely infer your age, such as when you graduated college.

Employers are, however, allowed to ask you if you’re over 18 or if you graduated from college.

Questions About Your Marital or Relationship Status.  

These questions about marital and relationship status are unlawful from a few different angles.

It is unlawful to discriminate against an employee based on whether they’re single or married, as well as whether you’re in a same-sex or heterosexual relationship. In addition, asking you if you’re single in a job interview is highly inappropriate and may constitute sexual harassment.

Questions About Your Parental Status and Plans.

Employers are not allowed to discriminate based on whether or not you are a parent, or planning to become one. Unfortunately, these are fairly common unlawful questions that get asked anyway.

Some examples of this question that would probably be unlawful include:

  • “How many kids do you have?”
  • “Are you pregnant?”
  • “Are you trying to become pregnant?”
  • “Do you plan on having kids soon?”

Questions About Your Criminal Record.

This can be a complex topic, and varies depending on where you’re located. At the federal level, while employers are allowed to ask about your criminal record, they are not permitted to refuse to hire someone simply because they have a record.

In addition, wording is important. While in some states it’s legal to ask if you’ve been convicted of a crime, it is generally unlawful to ask if you’ve been arrested—as some arrests do not lead to conviction.

Some states and municipalities have more stringent protections, including regulations that prevent employers from asking about your criminal record until a certain point in the hiring process. In Philadelphia, a “Ban the Box” law is in place that prevents employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record before making a conditional offer of employment.

Questions About Unlawful Job Interview Questions? Ask an Employment Attorney.

Do you have questions about an employer’s use of potentially unlawful questions in a job interview? If so, a knowledgeable employment lawyer will be able to answer them. If you’ve faced discrimination in the hiring process, your attorney can help you gain restitution and hold the employer accountable.

Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.