Illegal interview questions

Legal and illegal questions in an interview

Inquiry Area

Illegal Questions

Legal Questions



  • An employer may not require an applicant to state their age, date of birth, or ask that they produce records to prove their age
  • An employer is also prohibited from restricting its application process to “young, college age, or recent college graduate “ applicants
  • Asking for the applicant’s year of graduation from high school is illegal
  • An employer may ask whether an individual meets the minimum age requirement set by law. “Are you over the age of 18?” is an appropriate question
  • Employers may also ask questions that relate to a bona fide occupation qualification.

National Origin/ Citizenship

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • Where were you/your parents born?
  • What is your “native tongue”?
  • Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  • What languages do you read/speak/write fluently? (This question is legal only if this ability is relevant to the performance of the job.)


  • All questions regarding an individual’s race/color will be deemed illegal under state and federal laws.
  • None!


  • Any question regarding an applicant’s religious beliefs, denomination, or any questions about religious customs or holidays observed are illegal.
  • After an individual is hired, an employer may inquire about religious accommodations.
  • It should be noted that there are some exceptions to the general rule for religious institutions and organizations

Martial/Family Status

  • What’s your marital status?
  • With whom do you live?
  • Do you plan to have a family? When?
  • How many kids do you have?
  • What are your child-care arrangements?
  • Would you be willing to relocate if necessary?
  • Would you be able and willing to travel as needed for the job?
  • (This question is legal if it is asked of all applicants for the job.)
  • Would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary?
  • (This question is legal if it is asked of all applicants for the job.)

Sexual Orientation

  • An employer should not inquire with respect to an individual’s sexual orientation.
  • None!


  • What clubs or social organizations do you belong to?
  • List any professional or trade groups or other organizations that you belong to that you consider relevant to your ability to perform this job


  • How tall are you? How much do you weigh? (Questions about height and weight are not acceptable unless minimum standards are essential for the safe performance of the job.)
  • Are you able to lift a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards, as that is part of the job?


  • Do you have disabilities?
  • Please complete the following medical history.
  • Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations?
  • If yes, list them and give dates when these occurred.
  • What was the date of your last physical exam?
  • How’s your family’s health?
  • When did you lose your eyesight? How?
  • Do you need an accommodation to perform the job? (this question can be asked only after a job offer has been made.)
  • Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job? (This question is legal if the interviewer has thoroughly described the job.)
  • Can you demonstrate how you would perform the following job-related functions?
  • As part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made you will be required to undergo a medical exam.  (Exam results must be kept strictly confidential, except medical/safety personnel may be informed if emergency medical treatment is required, and supervisors may be informed about necessary job accommodations, based on exam results.)

Arrest Record

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever been convicted of__?  (The crime named should be reasonably related to the performance of the job in question.)


  • All questions specifically regarding pregnancy, future child plans, or the number of children an applicant has are illegal.
  • Questions as to duration of stay on job or anticipated absences if made to both men and women.


  • It is illegal to request a photograph prior to hiring an individual.
  • After hiring an individual, a photograph may be requested for identification purposes only.


  • Generally, an employer should not inquire as to the citizenship of an individual or require that an individual present proof of citizenship prior to the interview.
  • An employer may inquire as to whether an applicant is authorized to work in the United States


  • If you’ve been in the military, were you honorably discharged?
  • In what branch of the Armed Forces did you serve?
  • What type of training or education did you receive in the military?