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Sample Legal and Illegal Interview Questions

Age

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • How old are you?
  • What year were you born?
  • When did you graduate from high school?

Appropriate:

  • Before hiring, asking if you are over the minimum age for the hours or working conditions.
  • After hiring, verifying same with a birth certificate or other ID, and asking date of birth on insurance forms.

 

Citizenship

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Are you a citizen of the United States?
  • Are your parents or spouse citizens of the United States?
  • On what dates did you, your parents or your spouse acquire U.S. citizenship?
  • Are you, your parents or your spouse naturalized or native-born U.S. citizens?

Appropriate:

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen, do you have the legal right to remain permanently in the United States?
  • What is your visa status (if no to the previous question)?
  • Are you able to provide proof of employment eligibility upon hire?

 

Criminal Record

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever spent a night in jail?

Appropriate:

  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

 

Disability

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What's your medical history?
  • How does your condition affect your abilities?

Appropriate:

  • Can you perform the specific duties of the job?

 

Family

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Questions concerning spouse, or spouse's employment, salary, arrangements, or dependents.
  • What kind of child care arrangements have you made?
  • How will your spouse feel about the amount of time you will be traveling if you get this job?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work overtime?
  • Are you able to start at 7:30 a.m.?
  • Whether an applicant can meet specified work schedules or has activities or commitments that may prevent him or her from meeting attendance requirements.

 

Marital Status

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Are you married, divorced, separated, engaged, widowed, etc.?
  • Is this your maiden or married name?
  • Do you live with your parents?
  • Are you gay or straight?

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, marital status on tax and insurance forms.

 

Military

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • What type or condition is your military discharge?
  • Can you supply your discharge papers?
  • What is your experience in other than U.S. Armed Forces?

Appropriate:

  • Describe the relevant work experience that you acquired from the U.S. Armed Forces as it relates to this position.

 

National Origin

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • What is your nationality?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where are your parents from?
  • What's your heritage?
  • What is your native tongue?
  • How did you acquire the ability to speak, read or write a foreign language?
  • How did you acquire familiarity with a foreign country?
  • What language is spoken in your home?

Appropriate:

  • Verifying legal United States residence or work visa status.
  • What languages do you speak, read or write fluently?

 

Parental Status

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Do you plan to have children?
  • How old are your children?
  • Are you pregnant? When are you due?

Appropriate:

  • After hiring, asking for dependent information on tax and insurance forms.

 

Race or Ethnicity

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • What race are you?
  • Are you a member of a minority group?

Appropriate:

  • None

 

Religion or Creed

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • What is your religious affiliation?
  • Which religious holidays do you plan to take off from work?
  • Do you attend church regularly?

Appropriate:

  • Can you work on Saturdays and/or Sundays?

 

Residence

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Do you own or rent your home?
  • Do you live in town?
  • With whom do you live?

Appropriate:

  • Inquiries about the address to facilitate contact with the applicant.
  • Will you be able to start work at 8 a.m.?

 

Sex

Inappropriate/ Illegal:

  • Do you wish to be addressed as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?
  • What are your plans to have children in the future?

Appropriate:

  • None

 

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