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Legal Interview Questions

It's against the law for interviewers to ask certain personal questions.

Questions asked in an interview should focus on your qualifications for the job. Human resources staff is usually aware of what is legal and illegal. However, others involved in the hiring process may not be.

You have the right to withhold information unrelated to the job during an interview. That means you don't have to answer illegal questions. However, research shows that refusing to answer such questions may hurt your chances of being chosen for a job.

So what should you do? Before the interview, think through illegal questions listed below. Decide how you will handle them. If you are not comfortable answering one, prepare your answer ahead of time. Try to answer in a way that maintains your privacy without offending the interviewer.

Legal Interview Questions

  • What education do you have?
  • What experience qualifies you for this job?
  • Do you have licenses and certifications for this job?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • What name(s) are your work records under?
  • Do you have the legal right to work in the United States?
  • Are you available for overtime?

Legal Requests for Information After Hiring

  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • Affirmative action statistics
  • Your marital status (married or single only)
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Photographs
  • Physical examination and drug testing
  • Social Security card

Illegal Interview Questions

Some questions are illegal for an employer to ask before a conditional offer of employment. These may include the following questions:

  • What is your age or date of birth?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • What church do you attend?
  • What is your national origin?
  • What is your maiden name?
  • What is your marital status?
  • Are you widowed, divorced, or separated?
  • What is or was your spouse's name and/or job?
  • Have you ever filed a workers' compensation claim?
  • Do you have any physical impairments or disabilities that would prevent you from performing the job for which you are applying?

Title I of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) lists these additional prohibited questions:

  • Have you ever been hospitalized? If so, for what condition?
  • Have you ever been treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist? If so, for what condition?
  • Is there any health-related reason that you may not be able to perform the job for which you are applying?
  • How many days were you absent from work because of illness last year?
  • Are you taking any prescribed drugs?
  • Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?

Source: Creative Job Search, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.


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